Use Happiness Research to Maximize Vacations

Montreal

Regular readers already know that going on vacation is good for one’s happiness and there are ways to travel while keeping a small carbon footprint. It can be hard to find time to travel and expensive too, so how should one go about thinking about vacations?

Vacations aren’t things that should be “efficient” or viewed as a quantifiable experience. Instead, we can use existing research to prepare for a vacation and enjoy it while out and about. Basically, relax by changing your mindset around vacations from an epic journey to a chance to be with people in new places.

2. OPT FOR QUANTITY OVER “ONCE IN A LIFETIME”

A once-in-a-lifetime trip, like a month in New Zealand, would be amazing. But the “once-in-a-lifetime” aspect of such vacations limits their overall contribution to happiness. Research increasingly finds that we return to previous happiness levels fairly quickly (we spend life on the “hedonic treadmill”), and so smaller pleasures experienced frequently contribute more to overall well-being than major but less infrequent ones. Another studyfound that the health and wellness benefits of a vacation peaked at about eight days in. So look for already-shortened workweeks for getaways so you can plan several eight-day vacations (weekend plus workweek plus weekend) in a year for the price of three to four vacation days a pop.

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Removing Stigma Around Mental Illness Through Data

happiness

Mental illness is perceived by too many people to be the fault of those who suffer from it. This stigma has led people to not disclose that they are need in help, let alone seek it when needed. New research has revealed that mental illness is incredibly common and, more importantly, that it can be temporary for some people. Of course, it’s not good news that mental illness impacts us but it is good that we can move the conversation around the issue to be more meaningful and helpful to those that suffer from it.

If you ever develop a psychological disorder, many assume you will have it for life. The newest research suggests, for the most common psychological complaints, this is simply not true. “A substantial component of what we describe as disorder is often short-lived, of lesser severity or self-limiting,” says John Horwood, a psychiatric epidemiologist and director of the longitudinal Christchurch Health and Development Study in New Zealand. (Horwood has found that close to 85 percent of the Christchurch study members develop a diagnosable mental illness by midlife).

This may be a useful message to spread. According to Jason Siegel, a professor of social psychology at Claremont Graduate University, people tend to be more sympathetic and helpful when they believe that a friend or co-worker’s health problems are temporary.

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Thanks to Delaney!

To Fight Inequality we Need to Fight Poor Perception

Berlin

Inequality is on the rise throughout the developed world and there’s no better example of this increase than in the USA. The concept of the “American Dream” has led to an pervasive idea that anybody can become wealthy if they work hard, this concept is damaging because it ignores the plight of most individuals while worshipping success of the few. As a result, the discussion around poverty degrades to moral issues instead of addressing the systemic and institutional issues that perpetuate poverty.

At the Guardian, Maia Szalavitz, writes that if we’re going to make to improve equality in the developed world we need to change the way we think – and we can!

“We tend to see the world through our own experiences,” explains Stephen Pimpare, lecturer in American Politics at the University of New Hampshire and author of the forthcoming Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. “We often think it is structure or circumstance that constrains our choices, but it’s the behavior of others that alters theirs.”

In other words, other poor people are poor because they make bad choices – but if I’m poor, it’s because of an unfair system. As a result of this phenomenon, Pimpare says, poor people tend to be hardest on each other. He gives the example of a large literature in anthropology and sociology about women on welfare published since the 1980s. “It finds over and over again that some of nastiest things you ever hear about women on welfare come out of the mouths of women on welfare.”

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How to Maximize Misery

Many people strive for happiness and think it’s the end goal of life – pro tip: it isn’t. We’ve looked at happiness quite a few times and if there’s anything to learn from these posts it’s to embrace what you have at any given time. Mindfulness is key. In the video above CGP Grey takes use through things that make us miserable, and if you want to improve your life then you ought to stop doing those things listed in the video.

Forget NIMBYs, it’s All About YIMBYs

housing

Anybody engaged with civic action knows the prevalence of NIMBYism, those people who say ‘Not in my Backyard’ and try to stop any progress good or bad. This attitude of blocking anything has led to some cities being left behind while other cities leap ahead. Recently Toronto has seen a rise of people who chant the opposite of No. The ‘Yes in my Backyard’ movemnet is rising and YIMBYism is taking off!

YIMBYs as a whole recognize a simple truth: If we want more people to have housing, we need to build more housing. To that end, they campaign for the reduction or removal of various supply constraints—namely, those land use rules that enshrine the sanctity of the single-family, detached home at the cost of what’s recently been dubbed the “missing middle.”

They want to see more housing built. They want to see market prices fall. They want Toronto to be more Tokyo than Manhattan, more Houston than San Francisco.

Ultimately, they want young people to be able to participate in homeownership and to preserve Toronto as a city for all—not merely as a playground for the rich. And they’re gaining steam.

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