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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

How to stay happy in south London

In Dulwich OnView, happiness, new content on July 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

I interviewed a local south London blogger recently about happiness. Sasha runs the Happiness Project London, writing about things in the capital which can help to keep us sane (and hopefully happy) in a world of madness and chaos. There’s an interview with her on this website as part of my ongoing reserach project about the modern state of happiness.

But while I had her, I also asked a few extra questions about life in our area of London so I could write a piece about her for Dulwich OnView. She’s a really interesting character, so I figured she’d make a great addition to the South London People thread we have running on there. Do check out what she says can keep us happy in south London.

Happiness in Brixton

In happiness, new content on July 8, 2010 at 10:11 am

I wrote last week about how I met a blogger who writes in a similar vein to me. The Happiness Project London is a celebration of life in London, encouraging us to enjoy whats great about the city rather than dwelling on expensive, conjested transport and everyone being so busy all the time. Her blog is full of great ideas of things to do to relieve unhappiness and she also points out a number of ‘rules’ which can help us to be “a little more spiritual and a little less selfless”.

Sasha kindly agreed to be interviewed for my ongoing research project about the nature of happiness and what it means to us in a modern context. The interview with Sasha is online now on the happiness pages of this website. She told me about her life and what prompts her to blog about happiness for Londoners.

I was really interested to hear about the beneficial properties of blogging itself – I find myself asking if blogging can make us happy? Given my research is aiming to unpick the nature of happiness today, I’ve been inspired to look at how the technological advances of our time may have affected our happiness. In this case technology has clearly had a positive impact on someone’s life. But I wonder if that’s always the case?

I’ve got more interviews that are still waiting to be written up, so there’ll be more coming online in the next few months. And I’m also lining up other people to be interviewed. If you’ve got an interesting story behind you and you’d like to be involved in the project, do let me know.

Happiness in south London

In happiness, what i'm reading on June 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I just came across a lovely blog which is quite close to my heart. It’s someone writing about happiness and food (two of my favourite things) and she lives just a few miles away from me. The Happiness Project is an online project with the aim of getting Londoners to ignore the horrid, expensive, dirty parts of our city and to share in all the amazing things there are to see, do – and eat – right on our doorstep. We don’t realise how lucky we are!

The writer also offers a series of ‘rules’ by which we can be more happy. Take a look at her blog and see what you think.

I’m hoping to be able to interview her for my ongoing research project into the nature of happiness. The aim of the research is to unpick what happiness means to us in a modern context and, given she’s using modern technology of blogging and she’s writing about London now, I think she’d make a great addition. Watch this space to see if I can persuade her to get involved ….

Interview with Vishvapani

In happiness, new content on April 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

About a month ago I heard the Buddhist writer and teacher Vishvapani speaking on Thought for the Day (Radio 4) about happiness. I blogged about it at the time here.

I was struck by what he’d said so I sent him an email and told him about my research project looking at the subject of happiness and what it means to us today. And fortunately for me he kindly accepted my invitation to be interviewed for the book project.

I’ve posted his interview in the happiness pages of this website. In it he talks about the Buddhist attitude toward happiness, whether the Buddha was a happy person or not, and his own happiness. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

François Lelord on happiness

In happiness, what i'm reading on April 20, 2010 at 11:34 am

French psychaitrist François Lelord’s book Hector and the Search for Happiness has sold over 2.5 million copies. I remember reading about it when it first came out and was struck by what he’d achieved. His novel is different to my happiness research project in that it’s a story, but the aim is quite similar – to try and unpick what happiness means to us today.

Lelord’s starting point of a modern context is similar to mine. Hector — a psychiatrist like Lelord — sets off around the world to discover the ingredients for happiness because he can’t bear to see his patients so sad. The first person he meets is a banker: wealth, it seems, is one of the great stumbling blocks to happiness. It’s almost like the story of the Buddha, who wanders from person to person, taking advice and contributing to his own thought processes as he goes.

But perhaps the conclusions of this book are rather different to mine. In an interview in The Times today he says:

“I felt rather embarrassed at first as a Frenchman writing about happiness because I always think we are so grumpy at work. Waiters and taxi drivers can be rude. But we often top happiness polls. Happiness is a good glass of wine, the perfect cheese and conversation.

“The British don’t benefit from these things in the same way. In France we think of drink as making us happy because we don’t get drunk, it is a social activity; food is to be savoured rather than an obesity problem, and friendships and family are valued.”

Sex is another problem for the British. “In France we are open about the fact that sex can make you happy — it’s part of French folklore. In Britain you are more obsessed with shopping but that is a passive happiness. Your children love computer games that give them a high but they don’t provide the same contentment as climbing a tree. On the other hand, weather in Britain can make you very happy — you appreciate a sunny day.”

Read the full article on The Times website.

Happiness formula?

In happiness, what i'm reading on March 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

A few years ago the BBC ran a series of programmes and web articles about happiness, and the potential ‘formulas’ to which one might subscribe in order to try and achieve it.

I remember at the time that this was a rather interesting prospect and have, since then, began working on a book about happiness. The idea is to unpack how we think about happiness in a modern context, by looking back at what’s been written in the past and by talking to people today about how they relate to the subject.

I use this website almost as a repository for my ideas and research into the subject of happiness and what it means to us today, so while  I am here directing any readers of this blog toward the BBC’s archive of the programmes,  I’m also jotting it down for myself as an aide memoire.

Vishvapani on generosity and happiness

In happiness on March 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Vishvapani is a Buddhist writer, based in Manchester. I first came across his writings when he spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot, and I’ve continued to enjoy his contributions there.

His work explores how the teachings of Buddhism interact with the modern world and he can often be relied upon to present an alternative or insightful view on a current issue or trend.

In his slot on the radio this morning, Vishvapani was talking about the challenge fundraising in the modern world, especially by people who try and stop you on the street, asking you to give money. It’s very easy for us to dismiss them and to walk on by. In his speech this morning he explained how Buddhists approach giving:

“According to Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, the origin of suffering is craving. Turning that around, happiness comes from contentment and generosity. That’s why giving is the most fundamental Buddhist practice. It expresses a healthy attitude to life because it connects you to others. It recognizes that we depend on other people. And if you want to create a better society, Buddhism says, you should give, because a good society is a generous one in which people care for each other.”

You can read the full transcript on the Thought for the Day website.

The above quote is copyright BBC, 2010.

What does Susan Sarandon think about happiness?

In happiness, what i'm reading on March 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I’ve been following what some celebrities have been saying about happiness of late, just to get an idea of what it means to them – or at least what they say it means through their media people.

The latest to come out with her thoughts on happiness is Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, who claims that happiness keeps her young.

The 63-year-old she also takes care of her appearance by avoiding cigarettes.
“Don’t smoke,” she said. “It’s just so bad for your complexion. And I guess be as happy as possible. That really helps.”

Sarandon also revealed that she has a good relationship with her children, adding: “It’s nice to have something in common with your kids… All my kids really are curious and energetic and interested in things.” She concluded: “I hate to sound like the old hippy I am, but I think that even the bad stuff can turn into good stuff. Every day is a miracle, right?”

So nothing really new there, but an interesting perspective. And her attitude towards happiness fits into some of my major family of ideas about what happiness means to us today: Don’t smoke (investing in health), good skin (investing in appearance), energetic (physical stimulation), interesting things (mental stimulation), every day is a miracle (positivity).

Thanks to Digital Spy for the lead.

Rachel Weisz and happiness

In happiness, what i'm reading on February 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm

You might think that health is important part of happiness, but actress Rachel Weisz has declared quite the reverse, stating that “happiness is the secret to health”. She also said that a happy home life is the key to looking good.

In an interview recently she told a reporter: “I’m pretty healthy but I don’t have any fad diets or anything. I eat meat and drink alcohol, but everything in moderation,” she said. “I think happiness is the secret to health.”

Last week Weisz won Best Actress at the What’s On Stage theatre awards for her role in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse. That’s probably going to make her pretty happy as well!

So do you need to be happy to be healthy? I suppose general well-being does reduce stress in one’s life and being less up tight or axious is going to be good for our bodies. But is it essential, I wonder?

Do you need to be healthy to be happy then? Well yes, I think so, because an unhealthy body does lead to an unhealthy mind.

Perhaps we’ll just say for now that the two are definitely linked. I’ll ponder how linked they are though as I continue my research into the subject as part of my research project into the nature of happiness in modern society.

I found the story about Rachel Weisz and the quotes on Digital Spy.

Happiness and Hadrian

In happiness, Museums, Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Have you ever seen an advert and wonder if it was written specifically with you in mind? Two adverts on the London underground have caught my eye this week.

The first is an advert for Alexander McCall Smith’s new book Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, the latest in his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. (I quite liked the first of these books, but I must say that I prefer the 44 Scotland Street series.) Anyway, it struck me as another example of people using happiness as a marketing tool. Advertisers do it again and again – it’s a clever idea to associate your brand with making people happy. Another recent example of this is the current BMW campaign Expressions of Joy.

The other advert to catch my eye is for Hot Chip’s new album One Life Stand. The album art features a giant head of the Roman emperor Hadrian, found at  Sargalassos in south-west Turkey. It was discovered in 2007 while we were working on the content development for an exhibition about Hadrian at the British Museum. We managed to secure a loan of the head to the BM for the display, less than a year from when it came out of the ground. It was pretty big news and I remember seeing this image over and over at the time, so it was a real bolt for me to see it again on a tube poster.

It’s funny what triggers the mind, eh?