Be Optimistic by Learning About It

The book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Dr. Martin Seligman is not new, but it is to me. For others who have not heard about it before, it looks like an uplifting read. The central thesis of the book is to essentially learn what a worthwhile life is for you and to un-learn the other things: learn optimism.

‘Happiness’ is a scientifically unwieldy notion, but there are three different forms of it if you can pursue. For the ‘Pleasant Life,’ you aim to have as much positive emotion as possible and learn the skills to amplify positive emotion. For the ‘Engaged Life,’ you identify your highest strengths and talents and recraft your life to use them as much as you can in work, love, friendship, parenting, and leisure. For the ‘Meaningful Life,’ you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.


Ultimately, Seligman points to optimism not only as a means to individual well-being, but also as a powerful aid in finding your purpose and contributing to the world:

Optimism is invaluable for the meaningful life. With a firm belief in a positive future you can throw yourself into the service of that which is larger than you are.

Read more about the book itself and see Brain Picking’s best books of 2011.

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A Look at Happiness Through Design

The Design Exchange in Toronto has invited Stefan Sagmeister to explore what happiness is all about. The artist has done some great album artwork and is now exploring how to bring happiness via stats and images. It looks like a good show!

In the spirit of design week, join us at the DX for Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show. Running until March 3rd, the site-specific exhibition has “hijacked” the DX and converted it into a happy place complete with bright yellow walls upon which Sagmeister’s very own maxims for happiness have been personally handwritten. From the restrooms to the elevators, no surface has remained untouched. Grab a friend or two, celebrate design and be happy!

If you’re in Toronto and want to know about happiness head on down to the Design Exchange to check it out.

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Gross National Happiness is a Good Thing

Bhutan is a small country with a big idea that can change the world. For many years now gross national happiness is how the country monitors its progress, which is the opposite to how other countries measure success (which is from the quantity of money exchanged).

With a world population more knowledgable about environmental destruction there is an increasing concern that wealth accumulation outranks the needs of people. Gross national happiness can change how we measure progress.

Since 1971, the country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

For the past three decades, this belief that wellbeing should take preference over material growth has remained a global oddity. Now, in a world beset by collapsing financial systems, gross inequity and wide-scale environmental destruction, this tiny Buddhist state’s approach is attracting a lot of interest.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Economy Down, Happiness Up

It seems like the world has its own life-work balance and thanks to the fact that we’re (on average) working less we are happier!

The second conclusion challenges the received notions of mankind’s moods. A tenet of political science is that happiness levels rise with wealth and then plateau, usually when a country’s national income per head reaches around $25,000 a year. “The richer a country gets,” argued Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in “The Spirit Level”, an influential book of 2009, “the less getting still richer adds to the population’s happiness.” Many on the left have concluded that pursuing further economic growth is pointless. Even right-wing politicians such as Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, have set up projects to study “gross national happiness”.

Read the rest at The Economist.

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