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Happyview*13: Etienne Jalenques

by Joanna on 13/05/2010

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Le sujet revenait régulièrement. « C’est très puissant ». « C’est inconfortable parfois mais tellement libérateur ». Je ne suis pas vraiment attirée par la thérapie donc j’écoutais avec attention et j’étais heureuse que mes deux amis aient trouvé un thérapeute qui leur permette une exploration d’eux-mêmes si profonde et salvatrice mais je ne me suis pas intéressée plus que ça à la « Dynamique émotionnelle ».

Un soir, autour d’une galette, dans une crêperie parisienne, non loin de la rue de Bretagne, je m’étais déjà préparée à vanter les crêpes de mon pays. Nous discutions et bientôt, alors que je cherchais la faille pour vanter les crêpes de mon pays, le sujet s’orienta vers la « Dynamique émotionnelle » et son fondateur Etienne Jalenques. Ils ne tarissaient pas d’éloges sur le psychiatre et moi j’écoutais tout en attendant le moment propice pour vanter les crêpes de mon pays. Le moment fut venu de parler de la fine dentelle, de la fondue de poireaux et des coquilles St Jacques des crêpes de mon pays. Je rajoutais qu’en plus les ingrédients étaient bio et savoureux ce qui faisait des crêpes de mon pays des crêpes d’exception.

Je rentrais heureuse d’avoir promu avec autant de ferveur les crêpes de mon pays quand je reçu un texto. « Savais-tu que Etienne Jalenques a écrit La thérapie du bonheur

Comment ?

RDV en librairie avec Jess. Nous achetons chacune un exemplaire du livre La thérapie du bonheur en tête de gondole et en commençons la lecture. « Plus j’avance en âge, plus je crois que nous sommes ici sur Terre pour tenter de résoudre au mieux cette question : comment, dans ce court laps de temps que dure l’existence d’un homme, parvenir au bonheur ? » écrit-il.

Dans ce livre, je distingue trois parties.

Une, présente en introduction et conclusion, nous invite au voyage. Le docteur Jalenques évoque sa vie et je pense sincèrement qu’il y a matière à autobiographie. Ca avait un petit goût de pas assez.

La seconde explore les différents aspects du bonheur à travers des chapitres courts comme « s’il y a la soif, il y a l’eau », « le bonheur se mérite », « ne pas confondre risque et danger », « l’espoir ne fait pas vivre : il empêche de vivre ! », « on n’aime vraiment que sans conditions »… A la fin de chaque chapitre, il rappelle les phrases clés, ce qui est bien pratique pour se remémorer les points traités sans relire le livre.

La troisième partie décrit la « Dynamique émotionnelle » et ses outils comme la mantra thérapie, le judo mental, la surchauffe émotionnelle …

Une fois le livre lu, il ne faisait aucun doute qu’il fallait que je rencontre le Dr Jalenques. Il nous (Jessica et moi) reçoit dans son cabinet parisien dans une des pièces insonorisées où se déroulent les séances d’une quinzaine de personnes pendant trois heures où l’on peut s’exprimer par le pleur, le rire ou le cri sans déranger. Je vous laisse découvrir la vidéo de notre entretien.

« Le bonheur se transmet et s’apprend » nous dit le docteur Jalenques. Il viendra nous transmettre quelques clés du bonheur le 5 juin à « Bliss , les Explorateurs du Bonheur »

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Can happiness be measured?

by Joanna on 15/10/2009

When I was younger, I studied Economics at the University. I had to use esoteric terms, complicated theories, hypothesis “all things being equal”, going from micro to macro… I felt I had to understand a monster created by us but not for us.

We have to feed the giant to maybe have a chance to see him do what we want him to do. The pulse of the beast: the GDP. But didn’t we develop all those tools to have a better life? Is it working?  What’s the point of all that if human wellbeing is not in the center of our economics?

A small but famous country, Bhutan, is showing us a new way. Bhutan is Famous for it’s measurement of gross national happiness instead of GDP. But measuring happiness is a first step and doesn’t mean that the country is the country of happiness. A wave of suicide has been reported as a consequence of modernization and weaker family links. 

Measuring happiness video by New York Times

But can we really measure happiness?

Let me introduce you to my friend Gilles who is passionate about emotions and founded an emotion based city guide: Sencities. He is working with specialists in the field of emotions and introduced me to Florent from the Lab LUTIN (Imp in French). They pluged me on a machine that took several data like my heartbeat, my eyes movements and my breathing. The lab is studying and measuring our emotions for industrial purpose, in this lab it’s specifically for the videogame industry but we can easely imagine that it could be used to measure happiness eventhough for the moment they can’t make the difference between anger and happiness for example.


I tried an other machine/gadget/tool that claims it can raise your happiness level: hearthmath. It  helps you monitor your emotions and through exercices coordinate your brain and your heart. It’s called coherence.

Technology is trying to measure happiness but on a world level it seems that happiness became a hot subject. Even the very famous social network Facebook launched an analysis of our happiness level using keywords in users status. Learn more about it with this article or this video.

But in the end do we need so many criterias to measure happiness?

In Hypertension and Happiness across Nations , David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald measured blood-pressure of 15,000 randomly sampled individuals from 16 countries. They compared well-being with high blood pressure and found evidence that suggests that happier nations report fewer blood-pressure problems. It matched happiness measurements that were made with a simple scale of subjective happiness.

This other study “examined the accuracy of measuring happiness by a single item (Do you feel happy in general?) answered on an 11-point scale (0-10). Its temporal stability was 0.86. The correlations between the single item and both the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI; Argyle, Martin, & Lu, 1995; Hills & Argyle, 1998) and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985; Pavot & Diener, 1993) were highly significant and positive, denoting good concurrent validity. Moreover, the single item had a good convergent validity because it was highly and positively correlated with optimism, hope, self-esteem, positive affect, extraversion, and self-ratings of both physical and mental health. Furthermore, the divergent validity of the single item has been adequately demonstrated through its significant and negative correlations with anxiety, pessimism, negative affect, and insomnia. It was concluded that measuring happiness by a single item is reliable, valid, and viable in community surveys as well as in cross-cultural comparisons.”

We can continue measuring cold data like money but I believe that there is space to use happiness as a legitimate indicator and driver for our society. Who’s in?

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Your own steps to happiness

by Joanna on 08/10/2009

step firestep seestep greenThere is no recipe for happiness.

Astounding. I have a blog about happiness trying to conceptualise it and now I say there is no recipe.

It’s true. For me. Everything I write on this blog is my path on happiness. Those are the steps I made to understand my truth. I guess there are as many ways to reach happiness as there are individuals.

So yes you can try to squeeze happiness in a book or an application but true happiness is boundless and there could be as many books as people. My happiness is what you may sense in this blog through words. But It’s a every moment appreciation.

Happiness is a cursor. Happiness leads you to your true self.

True self could sound mystic but let’s take out the glitter. True self is for me when my thoughts, my emotions, my acts, my heart are in sync.

Happiness opens the doors of compassion, love, excitement, peace.

It’s the flow of coincidences, the smile, the quick steps on the pavements. Happiness is confidence, the eye quick to catch. Happiness floats around you, generous.

Sure now I can look back and see the books, the people, the events that touched me but take those same books, people, events and throw them at me in a different timing and I would have heard nothing.

There is no recipe to happiness. There is a questioning and a listening to the answer that can come in any shape like a dialogue with yourself.

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Schopenhauer on happiness

by Joanna on 10/09/2009

schopenhauerArthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22, 1788 in Danzig, Poland. He had a pessimistic personality. He said for example: ““Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom”

Arthur was not a happy fellow so what a surprise to find after his death, in his personal notes, a manuscript in the writings entitled “Die Kunst, glücklich zu sein” which could be translated as the art of being happy. I couldn’t find any trace of it in English bibliographies. Schopenhauer says that we can’t be happy but at least we can follow rules to avoid pain. He lists 50 rules. The first rule is not to aim for an unachievable happiness but to manage your life as well as you can by avoiding unnecessary suffering for you and others.

The second rule is to avoid jealousy by comparing with others (hum that sounds like positive psychology)

The third rule is to not drift from your natural tendencies. Some are creative others contemplative. Don’t go against your nature

An Other rule is to be self-sufficient: “Happiness belongs to those who are sufficient unto themselves. For all external sources of happiness and pleasure, are by their very nature, highly uncertain, precarious, ephemeral and subject to chance.”

In his essay “on the wisdom of life” from Schopenhauer final work, “Parerga und Paralipomena” (1851), Arthur sees health as the most important factor of happiness that can’t be traded for honors.

“For, after all, the foundation of our whole nature, and, therefore, of our happiness, is our physique, and the most essential factor in happiness is health, and, next in importance after health, the ability to maintain ourselves in independence and freedom from care. There can be no competition or compensation between these essential factors on the one side, and honor, pomp, rank and reputation on the other, however much value we may set upon the latter. No one would hesitate to sacrifice the latter for the former, if it were necessary. We should add very much to our happiness by a timely recognition of the simple truth that every man’s chief and real existence is in his own skin, and not in other people’s opinions; and, consequently, that the actual conditions of our personal life,—health, temperament, capacity, income, wife, children, friends, home, are a hundred times more important for our happiness than what other people are pleased to think of us: otherwise we shall be miserable.”

“It is the possession of a great heart or a great head, and not the mere fame of it, which is worth having, and conducive to happiness”

Schopenhauer has been influenced by Buddhism and believed in the limitation of your desire to lower suffering. Life was for him a painful road and his (limited) happiness rested in avoiding, reducing, coping. None the less, his rules are good guidelines to live a happy life.

I leave you with a sample of a six part series on philosophy presented by philosopher Alain de Botton, featuring six thinkers and their ideas about the pursuit of happiness. This episode is about Schopenhauer.

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Click on the painting to discover the artist Bob Row and his gallery of portraits :)

You can also read this very good article about Schopenhauer and happiness.

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“Joanna, would you like to interview Jacques Morin?” asked my friend Damien on the phone.

Damien is a documentary director. I saw the DVD about Jacques Salomé (a great psychologist and a best selling author in France) that Damien and Jacques did together so I was eager to meet him.

The meeting was on the set of their new documentary in beautiful Place des Vosges in the heart of Paris.

So here is Jacques Morin’s vision of happiness:

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Where is happiness when it hurts?

by Joanna on 27/08/2009

“Writing from a moment of deep sorrow.

Tonight, I am alone in Spain. I feel lost. A dear friend touched a very ancient wound. I thought it was a cleared matter, a souvenir. But set the décor, rerun the script and bad memories come haunting you. You are only a nutshell on a furious ocean.

Where is happiness in those moments?

How can someone who is writing about happiness and living it everyday can make such a deep dip? I feel like a frog with my swollen eyes. Coldplay is signing melancholic songs for me, only for me. Far from everybody, I am a lonely soul. So where is happiness when my heart feels it has been left on the side of the road?

“If you ever feel neglected

If you think that all is lost

I’ll be counting up my demons”

It’s not the first time that the same demons come knocking so what is the way to go?

First, there was rage. It took over me. I was screaming, walking all over. I could have broken everything in the flat. Rage, what a curious emotion. Rage like a feeling of omnipotence. Rage, taking back the control over matter when you are totally losing it.

Second, there was self-pity. Why, why, why me?

Third, there was the need to run away. Fourth, fifth… just because the situation, the people touched a painful spot. I thought all this was far behind. What a surprise!

That’s where happiness lies: the truth. Oh yes, I wish I could be way ahead on the road but I still have some undone business to take care of. I have no clue on how to get this past me but I know that if I don’t change my methods of coping, it will rise again. It’s with a swollen heart that I wish I will get to a place of peace to talk to my friend. I know that in these moments you can be quickly overtaken by that suffering voice.

Happiness can’t ignore suffering just like with those kids in the japanese school.

I can’t hide or avoid. There are places, moments in this life that make me question the foundations of my happiness. It seems so clear and easy and suddenly concepts are shadowed by fierce emotions. But even then I can still see the shiny person within who is now coming back to the surface.

A happy life is not a life free of pain

The next day coincidences started to knock at my door again as if life was winking at me and a new door opened. I learned a lot from that moment of despair and how your mind can focus on details to match with your internal scenario. In a world where communication is a central matter, I realize that mine shuts down in crucial moments, only to push myself in recurring stories.

I wanted to share that moment because happiness seems so obvious to me but that little shot reminded me that it will always be an ongoing process.

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Happiness at school

by Joanna on 30/07/2009

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If happiness was taught at school, what would the world look like?

My friend Nathalie, author of the blog Origin.all, sent me this video about a japanese teacher.

It starts with a dialogue between the teacher and his pupills on the first day of school:

“What is the most important thing this year?

- To be happy!

- What are we here for?

- To be happy!”

Surprinsingly, there is a lot of crying in the documentary because being happy doesn’t mean avoiding pain. He is teaching the kids and the viewer that bonding, caring, empathy, trust, friendship help go through difficult time. The teacher , Toshiro Kanamori, can also be hard but in the end his goal is to show how precious life is, to guide them to principles that make a happy life.

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