Tag Archives: positive psychology

Happiness, Laughter Yoga and Wake up London, Heart of London Sangha

To begin thank you again to all the people, who give me encouragement and inspiration to write this blog.  Sometimes I think I am lucky, I get to choose how I spend my time and where I put my energy.  Last week I was asked to volunteer at the Museum of Happiness, second event on ‘Exploring Happiness: An Afternoon of Talks, Workshops and More!’.  I  have been to quite a few workshops in my time.  One of my values is learning, so I can overdo it and go to lots of events.  These days I try to go to less events and try to do more by writing, and sharing my work with others instead.  So I debated going to this event on a Saturday.  I was asked by my friend Shamash one of the co-founder’s and author of 7 books, including the latest one  The Mindful Way through Stress .

10714399_10152725248900983_8866355716824582720_o I decided to go and I was surprised that about 60 people turned up, motivated and really wanting to be there.  I got to work with all the volunteers who were interesting and compassionate people, I was thankful to be part of the team.  I listened to the two main talks from TEDx speakers.  The first one was Susanna Halonen ‘Screw Finding Your Passion: Unlock It & Find Happiness at Work’.

She calls herself a happyologist, in the introduction of her book she says:

“ stop chasing your passion.  Instead look inwards and you will see that passion is right there, within you…you’ll notice that people have been engrained with the message that they must find their one and only passion.”  

She goes on to share the five keys that unlock the passionate way of being:

  1. Be the Authentic You
  2. Understand Your Why
  3. Master the Art of Learning
  4. Connect with Your Tribe
  5. Play with Your Strengths

These are the key points for being authentic-

  1. Identify what your values are, what is important to you and why.  Awareness and fully embracing your values is the first step to unlocking your passion. If you want to do this you can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
  2. Have the courage to carry your values in your everyday life.
  3. Acknowledge that being the authentic you at work is what helps you to be your best performing, most passionate you.

If you want to explore this area further this is another interesting resource by Neil Crofts to help you explore What is my purpose?

The second TEDx speaker was Marisa Peer ‘The Happiness Code: Three secrets to make your brain work for you’ with internationally acclaimed  therapist, multiple bestselling author.  From her experience she shares a fundamental rule that all our emotional and personal problems come from us believing that we’re not ‘enough’ and she explains how to overcome it.  She teaches people to say ‘I am enough’ and get’s people to write this on their mirrors and put on their fridge doors.  She shares the stories where this has worked.  To find out more you can watch her TEDx talk-

I got to also meet Esteban there a friend of a friend Ben Rodrigas, who I met at the Wisdom2.0 conference in 2014.  Here I am with some face painting by Livi Lollipop with the wise Esteban.

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Later in the week I was going to be running a post-lunch energiser with Julie Whitehead on

Laughter Yoga.  Last year I trained for two days to teach laughter yoga so I suggested it to TMSDI to have this as part of their yearly networking day.  They said yes, so we delivered a surprise Laughter Yoga session to the delegates.  Julie began by asking whether people have enough laughter in their life?  The room was silent and the answer was no.  So they were ready to give it a go.  We shared a little bit about laughter:

LAUGHTER – ho ho ha ha ha
Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the ‘feel good factor’, acts as aerobic exercise providing internal jogging, unleashes inhibitions, encourages better communication.  Great team building tool for colleagues. Helps boost our immune system which fights disease.  Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation.  Encourages positive thinking and creativity.  Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension. laughter yoga at TMSDI

We practiced quite a few laughter yoga exercises to encourage childlike playfulness, helping us all to let go and connect with the present moment.  There were 40 of us laughing together, there is something about the group energy that makes the laughter experience together even more special than when we laugh alone or with one other person.  We had an extra nice group, ready to give it a go and participate, it was a pleasure to be able to do this, so thank you to the wonderful Julie for saying yes and giving it a go to run the session with me.

This is a poem Julie shared at the end of our session:

SMILE FOR YOU 

“Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile, then I realised it’s worth. A single smile just like mine, could travel round the earth. So, if you feel a smile begin don’t leave it undetected Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!”

Also at the TMSDI network event was Dr Charles Margerison one of the founders of the Team Management Profile.  I have been accredited to use this team psychometric since 2006 and it is always great when you get to meet the creator.  I think his major role from the profile is a ‘creator-innovator’, the same as me.  His presentation was deep and thoughtful around the concept of existentialism and how we use our time.  He shared stories of people that had been successful, bringing to light ‘perception’, people that noticed something of more value than was already there.  For example, Heinz tomato ketchup was made from all the left over tomatoes that were going to be thrown away, Heinz found a different more valuable use for them.

Charles is an advocate of action learning.  He used to think you had to learn to act.  Professor Reginald Revans the originator of action learning said to him “why don’t you take some action and you will learn something.”  Most of the learning we acquire is from our experiences.  What new experiences can you have today, tomorrow, next week?  He ended his talk with saying:  “think about the right thing to do“, sometimes the right thing is not appreciated straight away or even during your lifetime.  He encouraged us all to be a little more daring and take some risks.  He is a unique character and really got into the laughter yoga exercises! maxresdefault

To close the day, I had been invited by Esteban to an evening talk in Covent Garden close by to where I was in Leicester Square.  I went to ‘ A Wake Up and Heart of London Sangha event for Mindful Entrepreneurs: Practising Together’.  This was facilitated by the two leads of the two groups Carol Wilkins and Joe Holtaway.  They both follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Han, a favourite teacher of mine. He encourages people to practice mindfulness meditation together through a sangha:

“In practicing together as a Sangha, as a community, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.”

I enjoyed the meditation together and it was interesting to hear about how people are running their business with mindfulness and some of the difficulties they are having and how as a group we could encourage and support each other.  This was the first meeting they had together, with a wish to continue.

Enjoy your weekend and leave any comments you have on my blog if you would like to.

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The Science of Awe and Happiness

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Dacher Keltner at the Facebook day on Compassion.  He is the founder of the wonderful resource that is the Greater Good Science Centre   affiliated with the University of California Berkeley.   Their mission is to share “the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.”  They bring the science to everyone in laymans terms, out of the journals, readable and accessible for the Greater Good. 11021501_1032548076775339_7654141530162080764_o

I was introduced to Dacher’s work on Awe at last years conference in the US.  It was not something that I had heard academics talk about in the UK, so I was listening deeply to his talk and insights.  I was lucky enough to see him again sharing his good work with the Facebook and Wisdom community in 2015.  He began by giving us his definition of Awe:” being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” (2009) Followed by a brief history from Protagoras’s origin story to Max Weber (1905) and political awe.  Awe was originally something we associated with divine beings.  In 1757 Edmund Burke, an Irish philosopher wrote about how we feel sublime (awe) in our everyday experiences of life and not just our relationship with God.  Currently at Berkley they are studying people’s narratives of awe, people share extraordinary experiences they have had, although frequently awe is described in response to everyday experiences we encounter. 11034369_1025591857470961_125969728909191542_o

They have found studies showing the awe-altruism link, spending time present in things that are larger than we are, encourages a more modest, less narcissistic self, which enables greater kindness towards others.  In the consumerist lives we live in, it is all ‘me,me,me’ and when we do not get what we want instantly we can all get impatient that our needs are not being met.  We are so important, that we always want to be heard and what we think and know, is more important than another person.  So our ego’s are constantly being bombarded and boosted with the messages we get from the media and society.  To balance this it could be good practice to realise how small we are in this big world around us, where we are all inter-connected.  Opening our eyes to this connection with nature and others in awe experiences alone or with others could be good for our health.  I am all for practising increasing our wellbeing when times are ok and good, to help us in the tougher more painful times we will experience.

In the Berkley lab they have been studying one branch of the immune system called cytokine system.  They are chemical messengers, produced by cells in damaged tissues. Cytokines evoke an inflammatory response, which is important for killing pathogens and healing wounds.  Research in Psychology is showing that a hyperactive cytokine response can result in chronic sickness and vulnerability to disease.  Jennifer Stellar did some work highlighting of all the positive emotions we experience, only awe predicted reduced levels of cytokines. 10845591_1025591800804300_1708689584248563800_o

If you want to explore more on the Science of Happiness you can take the MOOC (Massive, Open, Online, Course) Free course on the science of happiness from some of the experts in the field.  At times like these I love technology, bringing us closer to the knowledge and wisdom available, where money and our location is no longer an excuse.  Information is available so much of it, we are bombarded, this course could change your life for the better or you can also try out another course Science of Happiness – The 30 Days Happiness Program with Manuel Kraus.

If online courses are not your thing and you will be in London on the 9th May you can explore happiness live with real human-beings, in real time with co-founder Shamash Alidina and The Musuem of Happiness event.

If you want to find out more about Awe you can watch one of Dacher’s talks here-

To close, gratitude to the awesome 😉 Dacher for his work and practising what he preaches.  He talks about ‘seeking more daily awe’, what can you do to create more awe experiences in your day or your week?  Share them and comment on the blog below.

Happy bank holiday to those of you in the UK, a very good opportunity to practice getting out there in nature and consuming some awe experiences for the Greater Good!

Recording of Facebook presentation on the Science of Happiness and Awe: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/59295100 or Slides from presentation: http://bit.ly/1x1s3my

Reference-

Stellar, J. E., John-Henderson, N., Anderson, C. L., Gordon, A. M., McNeil, G. D., & Keltner, D. (2015, January 19). Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive EmotionsPredict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines.
Emotion. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000033

The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept (2007)-http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/dacherkeltner/docs/shiota.2007.pdf 

 

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The art of generosity – Is giving better than receiving?

It’s the festive period, everybody is busy buying something for the people who are important to them. But, is giving better than receiving? Are you someone who prefers to give or are you someone who prefers to receive?

I came across David Freemantle’s book called ‘How to become the  most wanted employee’, recommended to me by Grace Vanterpool, a guest speaker on the Leadership Empowerment Programme I regularly deliver. One of the suggested tips was to:

“Give something away each day” – my take away was to implement this one action. I began to consciously think about giving something away each day, be this knowledge, time, an item or just saying thank you.

Today the glow at work team had their first Christmas lunch at Dishoom. I want to thank all the team for their contributions – they have all demonstrated the concept of giving without asking for anything in return (all working as interns). We have been developing our strategy and come up with a mission we are all working towards.

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Our mission is to: “empower people from within and transform organisations, in order to help the working population achieve more meaningful, satisfying and glowing careers. In doing so, we believe we can also have a positive impact on other areas of people’s lives, helping to achieve a society with a better quality of life. Hence, we are serving a purpose that is greater than ourselves by building strong collaborative partnerships in order to effectively meet this very important objective.”

The research also shows us 5 Ways that Giving Is Good for You (from Jason Marsh, editor in chief of Greater Good & Jill Suttie, Greater Good’s book review editor)

1. Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues, found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.

These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

2. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers. This effect remained even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking. Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbours, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t. Interestingly, receiving help wasn’t linked to a reduced death risk.

Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back. Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.

These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. As researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”

What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness.  This “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

4. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall. A recent study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.

Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” she writes in her book, Positivity. She goes on to write, “and in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”

5. Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.
A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s,” says Zak.

What small thing can you give away today to help someone else? An ancient Ubuntu saying from Africa can help us to reframe our thinking about who we are; “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Most successful people have a team of supporters around them. If we all acknowledged each other a bit more and showed compassion for others at work, we could achieve so much more.

If you are looking for more suggestions, go to the acts of kindness advent calendar…because it’s better to give than receive http://www.noomii.com/advent-calendar-2012/

Happy Christmas & New Year to you all from the Glow at Work team

Harpal Dhatt- Chief Executive Glow at Work

Follow me on twitter @Glowatwork

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