By Clive Lindley-Jones | January 5, 2012 11:48 am
Happy New Year from all of us at Helix House!
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Another year begins. How are you going to make it better than all the others you have lived up until now?
It is always a salutary reminder that tonight, when the sun goes down on this day, that’s it, you will never have that day back to live again…it’s gone…for good! Taking in the full force of this fact, can sometimes motivate us to gird up our loins, (how do you do that?) step up and make each day that we are given really count in the story of our life.
So to start 2012 on a positive note, while you are still in the mood for new years resolutions what better way than to consider taking some action to increase our own and others happiness this year? As Mark Williamson, director for Action for Happiness, a product of the Young Foundation says;
“For far too long our main focus in measuring the progress of nations has been economic growth, in the form of increasing gross domestic product (GDP). Although very useful as a measure of economic output, GDP fails to take into account many of the things that matter most to us. Moreover, our obsession with growing GDP has increasingly put people’s lives in the service of the economy, rather than the other way around. Economic growth is really just the means to an end, not the end in itself; it matters only insofar as it contributes to social progress and well being. Yet the tragedy is that, despite decades of growth and material progress, surveys consistently show that average levels of life satisfaction in the UK are no higher now than they were sixty years ago.
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy”.
So if you want to feel good, do good!
I liked Action for Happiness’s latest research which has found 10 Keys to Happier Living that consistently tend to make people’s lives happier and more fulfilling. Together they spell “GREAT DREAM”.
GIVING Do things for others
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy.
So if you want to feel good, do good!
Q: What do you do to help others?
RELATING Connect with people
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.
Q: Who matters most to you?
EXERCISING Take care of your body
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!
Q: How do you stay active and healthy?
APPRECIATING Notice the world around
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.
Q: When do you stop and take notice?
TRYING OUT Keep learning new things
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.
Q: What new things have you tried recently?
DIRECTION Have goals to look forward to
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.
Q: What are your most important goals?
RESILIENCE Find ways to bounce back
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.
Q: How do you bounce back in tough times?
EMOTION Take a positive approach
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.
Q: What are you feeling good about?
ACCEPTANCE Be comfortable with who you are
No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.
Q: What is the real you like?
MEANING Be part of something bigger
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Q: What gives your life meaning?
Join the Movement www.actionforhappiness.org
New Years resolutions: Avoiding Cancer
Of course it is not always possible to avoid most illnesses entirely. However, we can do a lot more than many think, at least to reduce our risks, of many of the major killers in our culture today. Often one of the most feared and distressing diseases is cancer. For many this miserable condition seems just to appear out of the blue and we have absolutely no control over the roll of the dice. And for some this is probably the case. However, the latest researched reported by the BBC (read article here) showed that nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year – over 130,000 in total – are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals.
Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23% of cases in men and 15.6% in women, says the Cancer Research UK report. Next comes a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men’s diets, while for women it is being overweight.The report is published in the British Journal of Cancer. Its authors claim it is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the subject.
Lead author Prof Max Parkin said: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’ and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.
“Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.”
This looks all very interesting, however the respected Alliance for Natural Health (Read the report ) has looked beneath the surface and sees this report in a different and much more critical light. They expose a number of potential deficits to the report that show not all may be as it seems. As they say;
“We are concerned that the effect of this study will be to further perpetuate the cancer racket, where people continue to feed industry by buying into health-destroying behaviour, before finally developing cancer and turning to industry’s cancer wing to be patched up or not. It does absolutely nothing to cause any kind of a shift in the cancer industry juggernaut, a sector of medicine that has been pushed wildly off course by the profit motive. So why not check out the major life style causes of cancer and decide to do something in 2012 to change your risks in the areas that you CAN control?”
So as usual, not much in the public domain is as it seems!
Book of the Month
Life Blood: How to Change the World, One Dead Mosquito at a Time By Alex Perry (Find out more here)
With all the gloom and doom around the mess we have landed ourselves in economically and environmentally sometimes it is good to refocus, stand back and see the world from another angle. Half a billion people are still infected every year with Malaria. Millions of children are dying for want of a net to sleep under. But here is a good news story to set against the bleakness, things are changing. And Alex Perry has charted a fascinating part of that multi billion dollar effort to change all this, and it looks as if it is starting to work!
Alex Perry is the Africa Bureau Chief for Time magazine, Here he has written a short, fast-paced, enthralling and informative account of the latest enormous effort that have been going on in recent years to rid the world of this, one of the greatest scourges of mankind that has haunted us since before medicine began.
Set against our own non-communicable disease profile of own goals, see above, this account of massive efforts through the UN, NGO’s and the new billionaire philanthropists casts a timely light, not only on how Aid is delivered but also on the whole structure of Aid verses self interest, and what we can learn from the introduction of new ways of thinking into the delivery of assistance to our fellow man. As Tim Butcher, author of Blood River, says on the cover;
“Anyone interested in how the world can realistically be made a better place should read this fantastic book”.