Tag: emotions

There are 4Gs in Happiness

Front foot, Personal productivity No Comments

Much has been written about what might seem like a modern indulgence: the aim of being happy. I have previously added to the many, many articles online. And I enjoy (!) researching the topic, including articles on what makes us unhappy.


But, did you know that quite simply there are just 4 G’s in “happiness”?


First, Give: the importance of performing acts of kindness for others actually helps us be happy too. I was reading recently of a local recording of the TV show “DIY SOS” where volunteer tradespeople give their time to help a family facing difficult circumstances.  For this episode, they needed 100 people over 9 days.  Nearly one thousand plumbers, electricians, carpenters and gardeners applied to give their time and talent.  Week after week the volunteers say how working on the project has been the most enjoyable initiative of their lives.  Many organisations have schemes to encourage staff to give to local initiatives or charities.  These have spinoff benefits for both staff and employer wellbeing. This blog explains a bit more about giving.


Second, are you Grounded, with realistic expectations?  Mo Gawdat has written how manging our anticipation in situations is the easiest way to create joy.


Thirdly (and two G’s in one here), do you have clear goals for growth?  One client I am working with is investing in helping all individuals (in all teams in all of their distributed locations) be really clear on their chosen goals and their plan to achieve them during 2018. They believe this will promote role and life satisfaction.


Finally, Gratitude: the importance of counting our blessings.  Watch this space. My festive Business Briefing due in a week shares the twelve things I am grateful that 2017 has brought me.  What are you pleased for?  How do you keep focused on the good things in life, even when the journey is a bit rocky?  One colleague regularly, even religiously, completes the journal book Two Minute Mornings.  It asks you to jot down what you are grateful for (as well as what you will let go of and focus on) each day.  She loves the impact it has for her.  Leading speaker Michael Heppell shares how his Grateful List of 5 things to be thankful for each and every day is his most important ritual in life.


So, the 4G of happiness.  Do they work for you?  Does it give you the bandwidth for the life you want to live? So much better than GPRS (grumbles, pessimism, rumination and shame), I reckon.

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Being happy?

Personal productivity No Comments

If the last blog was a bit down beat…what about this to sandwich it between the one before on positive energy and this on happiness (to add to our Business Briefings and Blog on the topic before)….

There are a number of checklists on what to do to be happy, from this BBC one to GREAT DREAM  – and even this from nearly 200 years ago.

These are practical tools to help life you from the left hand (negative energy) side of Liz Millers 2 x 2.

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Think No Comments

What is in a word?

We love the use of the word ‘awesome’ in Australia – we really do.

And might see Axis of Awesome  in Edinburgh this weekend with some Australian friends.

Very cool. Very hip…bad, wicked, sick…


Getting onto the grid (to balance moods)

Personal productivity No Comments

We like the work of Liz Miller – and her approach to thinking about managing out negative emotions (anxiety and depression) and balancing positive ones (active and calm).

Readers of our business briefings will know we like 2×2 diagrams – and had a feature called “Matrix of the Month” for a while, so we find Liz’s one helpful.


Curiosity and wonder

Reflect No Comments

On a train…

Before 0700.

Usual commuter types.

Then mother and 18 month old daughter get on.

The child is full of life.

Loving the novelty.

Looking out the window – in wonder at the moving world.

Pointing and calling every man ‘daddy’ (much to the mothers embarrassment!)

This isn’t ‘normal’


No kids

No (visible) joy

No uber-curiosity – at least not externally demonstrated.

Rather, we are internally focused in sleep, the papers, laptops and blackberries.

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The original festivals

Think No Comments

Cycling though central Cambridge on the way to the station – just having received 3 mailings advertising summer music festivals – I thought…

Just how many fine old churches there were directly on about 100 metres of my route – St Johns, Trinity, St Michaels, Great St Marys, Kings…

And how majestic they would have looked, especially when surrounded by flimsy, low level housing and a variety of street entertainment and commerce.

A bit like the sight of the festival stages in a sea of tents and fast food stalls, shops and bars.

Maybe the Churches were the Renaissance festival – buildings full of noise and light, where people turned up from their hovels and mansions for moments of awe and wonder…

Like stages at Glastonbury and Latitude?

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What’s your Plan B?

Do No Comments

When facing changes in our work or personal life it helps to have a ‘Plan B’ as well as a ‘Plan A’.  If we can be more imaginative in widening our ideas of what the future might look like, we can increase the repertoire of options available to us.

An example of this is personal scenario planning when facing possible job changes. ‘Plan A’ is often “I hope they keep me on, doing what I do now”. 

To move beyond this, it is useful to face our fears. “What is the worst case?” By articulating our anxieties, we can move from just feeling them to confronting them and then to mitigating them. Ask yourself “what am I really afraid of, how would I cope, how could I soften the impact of what might happen?” 

Now try to come up with an interesting ‘Plan B’. “What’s an alternative future career or line of work that I could envisage given the goals and resources available to me?” Try to spot the trends you see around you that offer new opportunities. Review the things you’ve done successfully which you can build on. Write down the contacts you know who can help.

It may be a time to start achieving those personal ambitions which you’ve often thought about but never really acted on.

Ask us for a for more on this or a summary of our favourite article on personal resilience.

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The magical mist or the ghouls?

Think No Comments

Taking some children into Cambridge early one morning. It’s a bit foggy. We turn onto Fen’s Causeway – a marshy pastureland on the banks of the river Cam, almost in the heart of the city. There is a thick mist swirling over the fields and snaking between the trees.

I think to myself “what a beatiful sight, how magical”.

From the back of the car one of the kids says to another “you’ll have to watch out for the ghouls coming to get you!”

People see the same scene differently. The emotions they trigger and the questions they raise.

So next time you have a vision for how something should be at work (a strategy, a product, a way of doing things), ask yourself what others might be seeing as you show them your ideas – the magical mist or the ghouls?

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The economics of happiness

Think No Comments

What role does happiness play in your decision-making?

Not that much according to most economic theory. Humans are treated as completely rationale beings – Homo Economicus. We’re supposed to decide systematically on what is best for us (to maximise utility) based on trading off costs and benefits that can all be quantified.

But we know this isn’t the case in practice. From De Bono’s work on learning 25 years ago to the latest neuroscience research on how the brain functions, the role of our emotional responses is being shown to be more and more central in shaping how we act.

And happiness? 

It’s not a straighforward concept to define. Aristotle thought it was about looking back at the whole of your life having tried to exhibit the ‘virutes’. Betham considered the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Modern surveys of happiness – such as the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire – use a rich blend of measures, also including judgements about laughter, joy and elation.

Nonetheless, the Cambridge economist Jonathan Aldred in his new book ‘The Skeptical Economist’ thinks that to understand the big value judgements of our age – on things such as global finance, climate change and development aid – we need to work with the idea of happiness as a factor in human endeavour.

Clients of ours in government reached the same conclusion when working on some scenarios of possible future changes in society. Happiness is a function of us all being social creatures. A British Medical Journal study from 2008 (based on 20 years of data) showed how happiness spreads between individuals within a network of friends and contacts. This has implications for the workplace as well as for us personally.

All those you deal with – customers, colleagues and the like – are making judgements influenced by their happiness. That might be worth thinking about.

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