Posts on avril 2009

Book: The How of Happiness

I am not a specialist in this subject but “the how of happiness“ by Sonja Lyubomirsky was a good overview of what is positive psychology to me. It was the book that hooked me on the subject.

Sonja develops 12 strategies to a happier life:

  1. Practicing Gratitude,
  2. Cultivating a More Optimistic Outlook,
  3. Avoiding Rumination and Social Comparison,
  4. Building Social Networks,
  5. Practicing Kindness,
  6. Developing Coping Strategies,
  7. Practicing Forgiveness,
  8. Increasing Flow,
  9. Savoring Joys,
  10. Setting and Working Toward’s Goals,
  11. Engaging in Spirituality,
  12. Developing Body and Mind

But the beauty of it is that it is based on empirical research.

It spoke to my left brain giving it loads of experiments and numbers to crunch. And it talked to my right brain because it’s all that has been great with my life lately and it was written black on white. I loved that book.

I immediately did a search on the net and I am now following Sonja’s blog and have enjoyed her work overview video at google. And if you have less than 5 minutes here is a casual TV interview:

Sonja is also the cocreator of an Iphone application to be released by signal patterns: Live Happy

I highly recommend this book to those of you who want an entrance door to positive psychology.

What is this blog about? #2

This is a little exercise I will do on a regular basis: explaining what is this blog about.

At first, I wanted it to be very objective and thourough. I want to explore happiness through science, psychology, philosophy… and report to you. But I realise that it is very difficult for me to have distance. I can’t help but use personal emotions or experiences to write. So let it be I told myself. This is a blog that is following my pursuit of happiness.

Happiness: my Easter bunny

It all happened on Easter Sunday.

A lot of my friends went to the countryside, the mountain.  Paris seems very calm. The sliding doors of my studio are wide open on the garden. Birds are singing frenetically. There is that gentle feeling of summer easiness in the air.

I start the day with a bit of blog reading. No pressure ☺

I read a blog post, or more precisely, I listen to a radio extract of a man screaming his despair to the world. The crisis is pushing people to the edge where things need to be addressed.
It started a debate about the crisis, banks, the government, the French position in the world… One says that the other one is an idiot to think like he does. The debate is heating up. What are the solutions to the crisis?  Is there an other system possible?

It’s very difficult to have a voice in this world.

My voice for example is sometimes rising and I feel my blood going up to my head. « Don’t you understand? » « Why is he so stubborn? » Afterwards I always feel a bit ashamed. Why did I need to convince that person? What was I aiming for? How did it contribute to a better world?

I have traveled this world and met a lot of people from different backgrounds, religion, ethnics, age, fortune… I came to the conclusion that however objective I can try to be, I will always be influenced by TV, my entourage, my experiences… My opinion has a shape now and here, will have a different one tomorrow and there, and had an other one yesterday.
How can one look at the history of the world, at the diversity of people and beliefs and think he has the truth of a changing world? So yes, I feel tense after a heated conversation because I know that I was feeding a part of myself that wants to be heard, which is seeking recognition or power.

It can seem simplistic but hear me out (ah trying to convince again ☺)

Sometimes people seems to look at me as if I was a naïve little girl who doesn’t want to face this world. I often hear the word « utopist ». May be.  My thoughts are the result of one experience.
My experience, even if now it looks like a bedtime storybook, has been very rich.  Thanks to my wounds and my need to understand, I have experienced different customs, visions, believes. I loved it but I also got  totally lost in it. What is the value of what I believe if I am a sum of influences, chemical reactions, history? I felt like a puppet in the world. Starving, killing: is that real? Should I go run to help him or her? How could I save anyone if I can see anger, despair in myself?

I found out that there is only one driver that I can trust: happiness. I now see despair, suffering but it doesn’t drain me like it used to because I have implemented happiness in my life and I can give with no fear of missing.

Where my mind was seeing contradictions, now it sees a way. Happiness is, to me, a discipline. I learn to let go of things I was trying to hold on to. I am trying new ways and my only barometer is happiness. Now I would have to define happiness.
That’s what I want to do with this blog. Explore science, business, religion, feelings, psychology… to get to understand what I live. Is being happy a mental process?

While I was answering on Korben’s blog post trying to write my vision of economy and how it could be more focused on human happiness, two couchsurfers I am hosting tonight arrived. Richard brought me in a nutshell what I was trying to express. He is part of a new breed of entrepreneurs who have a different focus.

So here is a little interview we did in the garden about him, socksforhappypeople and their values. Business, how it can be profitable and contribute to happiness is a subject that I will develop later on. I hope that the company will grow to see how those values evolve. So Rich, let’s meet again to see if happiness can be sustained in a business environment.

Socksforhappypeople from Joanna QUELEN on Vimeo.

Is it utopist or megalomaniac to talk about happiness and even worth, to think that understanding it could change the world?  Let’s explore.

Happyview*7: Budapest and Belgrade

Budapest

What an esoteric city to me ! A good kind of magic that gets you on the top of a hill for a three-hour talk about the Huns, the Turkish, the Hapsburgs and the communists. I was taught the Hungarian history by a 71 years old man. Georges is a man who knows his history and his stories well. From the pictures of the kids to the Manhattan project, from the top of the hill to the other side of the bridge, I think that the BBC documentaries looked like this before television. What a great story teller!

One morning, I was given a private reggae concert. Amazing. It looked so natural to create rhythm like this, with their body , their voice, their flow. At times, my little voice couldn’t help but scream « I am so Lucky ». The next day I went to their concert and got to see them with a different light. Riddim colony:  so fan.

Riddim colony

I would have really liked to stay a few more days in Budapest but time was pushing me out.

Belgrade

This is a test. If the people who lived that story are Reading, I pray that they don’t throw me stones.
The word we had to remember was « forget ».
But I didn’t forget.

I spent 3 days at a friends’ place. They showed me the city. I saw a fort and a river. I can’t really remember. The only thing I remember is the food. Food from morning to night. Sliding from the lunch table to the dinner table. But even those mountains of food didn’t erase that beautiful moment.

All the guests were standing on their way out. It was a Sunday night and it was time to prepare for a new week. Then it stroke us. It started in slow motion. You see the movement but you don’t quite hear what is being said. You just follow the flow. And suddenly comes the full speed again. You are in the living room, dancing with 6 Serbian people in a round. You hear laugh, you see legs bouncing and the voice of a man saying « Forget. Forget » as if we had to forget such a great moment. It is so rare to spontaneously dance and share so much fun with a group of people. At this very moment: happiness was for me to share a crazy moment with others.

When we stopped dancing, we all looked at each other to check if it is ok to have fun. Everybody started to streathen up when it happened again.
It is out in the open now. Silliness is good for your heart.

I am now back in Paris drown in sunshine. It’s been a great trip with great people.

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