Maybe money does not buy happiness after all

January 12, 2010

Interesting article and slide show found on CNBC. Here is the text:

As it turns out, some of the highest income states are among the unhappiest, according to a recent study by economists Andrew J. Oswald and Stephen Wu, of the University of Warwick and Hamilton College, respectively.

Taking into account both subjective and objective factors such as sunshine, congestion and pollution in a survey of 1.3 million Americans between 2005 and 2008, the researchers determined which states have the happiest – and unhappiest – residents. Among the happiest are Louisiana, Hawaii and Florida.

“Some might be surprised that states in the south with lower income ranked as high as they did,” said Wu, economist at Hamilton College. “States with high income rate fairly low on the happiness levels. To some it might seem counterintuitive; it’s not just about income levels, but those places might be more crowded, more congested on the roadway, [have] less available land.”

For the slide show click on this link: The Unhappiest States in America


In the end, it is all about happiness

November 11, 2009

Although we sometimes tend to deny it or to forget about it, but in the end all our actions are about happiness.

At work, people want to have a rewarding job, they want to feel appreciated and make the money they think they deserve, the boss wants to see good results, and the customer wants to get the proper quality. In our personal lives, we look for the right relationships, we have hobbies, and we like spending time with our friends and loved ones.

Why do we wish for all of the above and for more? The answer is simple: when things go our ways, it makes us feel good, it makes us feel happy!

Why do people change jobs? Why do people divorce? For these questions, too, the answer is simple: we change our lives when we are not happy about them.  Yet, not everyone makes such changes and some settle with the unsatisfying situation. Does this make sense?

It does if we listen to the theory of Henri Laborit, a French neurobiologist and writer who studied human behaviour when people face adverse situations. According to him, we have three ways to deal with unpleasant situations such as conflicts: running away, fighting back or inhibition. In the French movie Mon Oncle d’Amérique, we can see illustrations of his works thanks to a comparison of life situations with the lab experiments. The research background he shows are experiments with lab rats. In the first experiment, the rat is in a cage with two compartments separated with a wall with an opening allowing the rat to change compartments.  Only one compartment has a floor that can be electrified. The rat gets a warning with a buzzer and 4 seconds later the current flows in the floor.  Very quickly, the rat realizes that when it goes into the other compartment where the floor is insulated, it escapes the punishment and all physical tests carried out show that the rat is in perfect health. The rat is fine.

Then the operator shuts the opening between the two compartments, the rat cannot escape the punishment. Very quickly, we can see the rat being completely stressed with its hair straight up and breathing quickly. The rat is not doing well at all.

Then, they add a second rat in the cage, and both rats have no other choice than take the electrical current. Instead of getting stressed and ill, the rats fight with each other, and it appears that this helps the dominant one to be perfectly healthy again.

We face this type of situations everyday in our societies. Sometimes, we choose to run away from difficult situations such as quitting a job because of a bad boss, instead of enduring stress every day. We sometimes can fight back, even fight, although our laws do not accept violence as a way of resolving conflicts. When people have no possibility to run away or fight, Henri Laborit’s theory is that they choose inhibition and do nothing at all. They simply take the punishment. Some can compensate this by fighting with their spouses at home, but this usually does not bring much good, either. According to Laborit, inhibition is the stage of angst, and angst is the result of the inability to cope with a situation that seems to have no solution. This usually results in ailment and even diseases, be it physical like ulcers or even cancer, or be it psychological leading to neurosis or depression. Turning against the own body becomes the way of fighting back, and the ultimate act of violence, one can commit against oneself is suicide.

On the other hand, he also noticed that when the rat experiences something that brings satisfaction and pleasure, its natural impulse is to get more of it. If it feels good, then it must be good!

I believe that this illustrate nicely how important it is to always try to look for satisfaction in our lives, at work and at home.

Excerpt from Mon Oncle d’Amerique (In French)


Just be yourself!

September 14, 2009

This is a prerequisite if you want to grow and be happy in life, as well personally as professionally.
Although it would sound like an easy thing to achieve, too many people seem to have difficulties getting there. Many internal and external reasons can explain that, but it is always possible to change for the best.

If you are not a superhero, it is OK

If you are not a superhero, it is OK

Why is being yourself so important?
Quite obviously, if you are not yourself, then who are you? Just this question makes clear that it will difficult to know who you are. If you think you are some of your role model, realize that s/he probably was him/herself, and that is why they got in that position of role model.
Moreover, if you are playing being someone else (like the example on the right), you will miss the opportunity to genuinely improve yourself and achieve higher fulfillment in life.

How can you be yourself?
This can take more or less time between people to find out, but it is possible and not that complicated. All you need is to have people you trust to give you candid feedback. You have to understand that even the most popular people are not perfect and that they have their insecurities as well. An easy way of discovering yourself it to find what you like most and what you like less in life. Capitalize on your assets and limit your liabilities. Accept your limitations and enjoy your talents! After all no one is talented in everything, and all you need to be happier is to do what you do best and like it. To find out who you are and to be yourself, you are just going to need to determine how much will, dare, capability and knowledge you have.

Deal with other people’s judgment!
Unfortunately, everyone has an opinion about other people, and most of the time it is based on very partial information. Most disputes are the result of a lack of communication, not of knowing each other well. I often tell the same joke about how lucky I have been in life to meet only great people who unfortunately for them all have seemed to be surrounded by idiots.
Realize that you cannot please everyone, and whatever you may do and whoever you maybe, there always will be someone out there to criticize you. The only feedback that counts is the one from people who really know you well, and that you trust enough to give you their opinion. Such an exercise is not about passing or failing, but it is about self-knowledge and possibilities of improvement. True friends will not shoot you down. In this exercise, they will tell you what you could be better at.
Also realize that it is better to get some bad feedback on who you really are than on whom you trying to be, because in that case, the information is useful for you.
If you find difficult to accept yourself, you need to consider two things. First, you are not the only person who feels that way; a large of majority of people tends to underestimate themselves. Secondly, most people have much more potential than they think; all they need is to take more chances. You need to show the world what you can.
Finally, always make sure that you are the one deciding for yourself. Peer pressure and your social environment, not even to mention marketing and the media have a very powerful impact on how many people think they should be. It is not to them to decide about that. Dare to challenge them. Also, realize that people who are themselves always attract compatible people, thus making their lives more interesting and fulfilling.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


The ten signs of a happy person

September 6, 2009

Just hap-pyIn no particular order of course, you will notice that happy people:

  • Are in good health.
  • Smile and laugh often and look at others in the eyes when talking to them.
  • Are assertive, not aggressive.
  • Do not envy or criticize others, they have a positive attitude.
  • Make other people happy and are loved.
  • Have no addiction, they just do not need any.
  • Like what they do (personally as well as professionally) and they like who they are.
  • Are themselves and accept others the way they are.
  • Are not selfish or self-centered.
  • Problems do not seem to stick to them; they just deal with them.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, how many people do you know who would qualify?

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Are you living your dreams?

September 3, 2009

Dreaming your lifeFrom early childhood, we all have had our ideas and dreams about how life would be later. You know, when I grow up, I want to…
Yet, later in life, many people seem to have forgotten about these dreams or, worse, they have given up on them. This is sad, because there are not many things that can energize and motivate you as the pursuit of something very dear to you: being the person you always wanted to be.

Personally, I have been blessed with supportive and open-minded parents. They always encouraged me to pursue what I really wanted to do, if that was indeed good and important for me. The fact that they also taught me boundaries made such encouragements even more stimulating: if they supported me, I knew that it was because what I was aiming at was worth it. Consciously going after something meaningful is one of the most motivating things I can think of.

This has allowed me to be aware of my personality and of my possibilities at a young age, which made it possible for me to decide much of how my life would be like. Like everyone else, there have been bumps on the road once in a while, but knowing what I wanted always helped keep the course, and that has brought me lots of satisfaction and the privilege of living quite a few of my childhood’s dreams.
As I grew a little less young, I also discovered that dreaming is a work in progress. It is nice to pursue your childhood’s dreams, but sometimes, circumstances change, or the dreams appear to not be as realistic or sensible as they seemed first, and we left them aside. That is not really a problem as long as we keep the ability to keep envisioning who we want to be. With age comes more experience, more self-awareness and this is why it is never too late to think of what we want to be later. This process has nothing to do with any mid-life crisis, as that is something else, which is not about dreaming about the future; it is the mourning of the past.

I have been lucky to live most of my youth’s dreams and it has brought me to where I am today: a happy and fulfilled man who wants to make it possible for others to experience the same. It has made me able to look at my life in a dynamic manner and constantly think of how and in what I can grow further, and the ideas keep coming.

Who you want to be is the mix of what you love to do, what you do best, what your values are, and of where and with whom you want to make this happen.

The worst thing to do to oneself being not to try at all, and regret it for the rest of one’s life, the question that you must ask yourself is: Are you living your dreams?
If not, what happened then? More importantly, what are you going to do about it? Can you think of better objectives today, thanks to a better knowledge of yourself? What is keeping you from trying, and how can you overcome such hurdles? It is only by trying over and over again that one succeeds.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


The Life Plan will help you increase personal fulfillment

August 4, 2009

Your level of happiness or fulfillment is generally a direct consequence of how much you live your life and live in an environment that matches your values.

Here at The Happy Future Group, we have developed our Life Plan program (see the presentation under “Personal Programs“) to help you identify how balanced your life and your values are, and from there we help you build your own specific action list.

The process is simple. To identify your values, you will confront your own findings with some of your friends’ assessment of what truly drives you. Involving trusted friends to participate makes this process more fun and more rewarding. It also avoids this search to feel like a questioning, and at the same time, it will give you a much more objective feedback. After all, every person is who they really are, but also whom they show and who others think they are. By reducing the discrepancy between these three apparently different persons, your level of happiness will naturally increase.

By assessing how much fulfillment the different parts of your life match your core values, you will get your own “fulfillment index”. From that index and its analysis, it will become rather easy and obvious what actions you will need to take to increase your level of fulfillment.

The philosophy of the action list is all about incremental improvement. Consider your current life as being the ground zero. Each action when completed will help you live more to your values, and therefore you will achieve progress one step at a time. The timelines are the ones you feel comfortable with. All you need is to fully commit to the process. Should you “soften” a bit, we will help you remember what you promised yourself to achieve.

All you need to complete this process to success is to have the willingness to make it work, to be yourself and to spend the necessary time and energy.

To be happy, you do not need to go up the mountain to find yourself. It is all here and now, inside and around you!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.


Take control of your time!

June 23, 2009

As such, time management is quite simple and yet many people seem to have a serious problem with it.
What counts the most for an effective management of your time is to have control on what happens or can happen during your day.
Juggling all the timeThe best way to achieve this is to make a short plan of the activities you want to be done before the end of the day. Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail.
Next to that, you also need to create the conditions to be able to carry out this plan. This means that, although you need to be flexible and adapt to some change of plans, you also must not forget about your priorities. Assertiveness is quite useful for this, because very often disruptions come from other people asking something from you. Be helpful to them, but also make them understand that their request will have to fit in your schedule just as well. Sometimes you will be able to accommodate your own priorities this way, and sometimes you will have to accept that their request comes first. Nonetheless, always try to negotiate an acceptable give and take.
Another important part of effective time management is to not get distracted by unnecessary and useless activities. How many people seem to have the need to check if they have messages on their cell phones or on their email? There is no point about checking obsessively every other minute. Turn off the device and focus on what you need to do. Sometimes, isolation is the most effective way of completing your to-do list.
Remember that the best reward for your effort and discipline is that all the things you had to do are done. They are off your agenda, and this is one of the greatest feelings there is: mission accomplished!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.