Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A little bit of happiness research

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a half-day course for work called 'The Science of Flourishing'. Fantastic course. I wrote the following for our Intranet but thought I'd shared it via my blog too...

Now this is the kind of workshop I like! The presenter, Katherine Street, passes around individually wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates and we are told to spend a few minutes savouring the smell and anticipation of biting into the chocolate. After we are finally given the okay to eat our chocolate someone comments they have never enjoyed a chocolate so much. It’s perfect timing too as morning tea is just about to served and it’s also rather luscious – tiers of cakes, scones and cream and jam, and croissants. Now this is much better than being at work!


Katherine Street is a local psychologist who is very well versed in the science and latest research into ‘happiness’. One of the first exercises are asked to do in our groups is to match the percentage each of the following three components of happiness have on a pie chart (40%, 50% or 10%): Genetics; Life Circumstances; and Intentional Action.

Most of the groups put Intentional Action at 50%, Life Circumstances at 40% and Genetics at 10%.
The big surprise is when Katherine reveals that our genetics account for 50% of our ability to be happy, our life circumstances for 10% and our intentional actions for 40%.

Research has found that wealth, age, attractiveness, gender, health, intelligence and education have very little impact on our level of happiness. And yes as we often hear the research confirms that winning the lottery is not the way to find happiness.

What can impact on our happiness is the intentional actions we can take to gain pleasure through engaging all our senses - from doing things like listening to our favourite music, hugging a grandchild, seeing an amazing scene, tasting great food, smelling our morning coffee brewing...

Happiness also comes from:
  • engaging in activities (including work) that involve us experiencing 'flow' (periods when we lose track of time)
  • finding meaning in our lives (including meaning in our work)
  • being connected to and doing things with and for others, and
  • through celebrating our achievements.
In the workplace successful team environments need to have a positive to negative ratio of 5:1. So how can we improve the ratio of happiness in our own workplaces? Our group decides that by being happier ourselves this will have a ripple effect on our colleagues and that we should also all engage in more random acts of kindness and cake!

Katherine Street has a lot of interesting material on happiness worth having a read through on her website:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Changes are afoot

Yes I know it has been a very long time between posts.  What happened? I think I just got sick of nattering on about sewing, which I've actually taken a break from.  I have also been on more intensive Nana duties since the arrival of little Zoe last October plus we had a trip to NZ to see the kiwi grandkids at Easter.

Just before our trip to NZ I spotted a house on I liked the look off, talked husband into having a look at it and foolishly we bought it, before selling our existing house.  What a recipe for making life a little bit more stressful. 

After our return from NZ we launched into preparing our house for sale. In three weeks we had nine tradesmen and a very helpful brother on board to help us tart the place up.  Several rooms painted, new cushions, rugs, more modern lino in the bathrooms, a garden makeover, carpets dry cleaned, new quilt covers, lamps, pot plants etc. etc. plus a myriad handyman jobs repairing the many dodgy bits of the house. It was great to have a stylist's report (a free service of the agents) to roughly follow. Of course now it has never looked so good and we have wondered at times why on earth we are selling it - but too late now. 

We are now working very hard at being TIDY people (unbelievable!) and the house is in a constant state of 'inspection readiness'!  Phew!  Just don't look under the beds...

The new house when we move in to it will be fantastic.  A blank canvas.  Brand new, totally devoid of a garden - so a lot of fun to be had adding 'our stamp' on the place. 

In the meantime though a celebration of our old house.  These fabulous photos were taken by Ron Verdouw to advertise our house with our agents, Charlotte Peterswald.  We haven't sold our lovely home yet but our very friendly real estate agent Dion Flanagan is muttering that we might be getting some offers very soon.   Fingers crossed.

Yes - we are going to miss the oak tree!

Please note matching towels!

Le shed