The key to happiness

Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor unveils the key to being and staying happy, we can re-programme our brains, trust him he’s a psychologist!

I know the third and fifth are pretty crucial for my happiness and I’d like to work on practising gratitude and meditation. Which have helped you?

1. 3 gratitudes
2. Journaling
3. Exercise
4. Meditation
5. Random acts of kindness

Reciprocal Altruism – the importance of empathy

Dev Patnaik with Peter Mortensen explored how organisations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power each of us has: empathy, the ability to connect with other people. Their book’s called ‘Wired to Care’ and it’s something I often come back to as a reference source.

They cite an example from 1893 when more than 200 leaders from over 40 countries came together for a Parliament of World Religions. The goal was to see if they shared any common ground. Imagine that happening today and how long it would take! Anyway, the leaders all had different religious beliefs but did find one thing they all shared as a unifying belief, The Golden Rule. Their declaration was ‘The Ethic of Reciprocity’, a belief that human’s have the capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, which is the root of moral behaviour.

Wired to Care goes on to explore great examples of brands that work to The Golden Rule, something which is a natural human behaviour and inherent in the human brain.

They highlight that when we become disconnected from other people, we can’t behave in a consistently moral way as we ‘simply have nothing to calibrate our behaviour by.’ A challenge they set in the Golden Rule is to ‘treat people even better than they might expect to be treated.’

This year we’re looking forward to celebrating people who are #kindaware, brands and testing ourselves with how we treat people through different Kindaware campaigns.

Community of 20,000 celebrating kindness & wisdom

Wake Up projectMy gorgeous friend Leanne kindly sent me this community, knowing how much I’d love love love it!

They’re a ‘community of 20,000+ people celebrating kindness & wisdom in modern life.’ They explore a variety of ideas from compassion to creativity, mindfulness to business and the arts. Mouth of word has spread through their free kindness cards. Their founder Jono did his first kindness event in 2009 as a test to see if anyone would come. He was expecting a few but 400 turned up! They now put on workshops, special evenings, films and have a flagship business conference hoping to inspire kind and wise living.
What a bloody good idea, shame they’re based in Australia.

Why Kindness & Wisdom?

As Jono their founder would say the Dalai Lama gave us a hint when he said, “kindness is my religion”. Science and wisdom traditions point to mindfulness and kindness as key qualities for living with purpose, meaning & fulfilment – oh yes.

What events in the UK do you go to?

José Mujica donates 90% of his salary: the world’s poorest or richest president?

José Alberto Mujica Cordano was elected the Uruguayan president in 2010. He’s not only a vegetarian but he’s a very kind man. He’s known as the ‘world’s poorest president’ quite an accolade, as he donates 90%, yes 90% of his salary to charity and small entrepreneurs. He takes home around £485 and donates £7,500.

He’s described as an ‘anti-politician’ and a man ‘who speaks the language of the people’, no surprise then that he created the Movement of Popular Participation and is a lefty. Some may think he’s an eccentric man but his actions make a lot of sense:

This is a matter of freedom. If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself” the BBC reported.

The Uruguayan leader made a similar point when he addressed the Rio+20 summit in June this year “We’ve been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty. But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet” – hear hear

Some think he’s mad, I say he’s a hero and understands life. Surely this makes him the richest president.

The good giraffe’s acts of kindness

The Good Giraffe

Mohammad Hirzallah was at the North Bridge,
Edinburgh, on 10 November.

The saying goes ‘the less you have, the more you give’. And that’s certainly true about The Good Giraffe.

Armstrong Baillie is unemployed and gives to strangers because it makes other people happy??

His random acts of kindness are done dressed as a giraffe (his favourite animal). He got the idea from “a man in a gorilla costume playing drums on the streets around Edinburgh… he really made me smile, and I know I wasn’t the only one,” he told I wonder what Phil Colins would think.

He hitch-hikes and busks to spend the donations on kind deeds: free bananas at the Edinburgh Half Marathon, coffee to cold passers by, £10 vouchers to mothers in hospitals. All just to be kind and cheer people up.

The Good Giraffe has been causing a bit of a stir and debate in online communities, some think it’s nice others just plain mad?

I wonder if brands or organisations like the Kindness Offensive will get The Good Giraffe involved in events.

Meet Naoko Takano a happiness engineer

Happiness A few months ago I decided to move my blog over to self hosting. Easy peasy I thought but it was a bit of a pain and my blog was ‘down’ for a while.

Since starting my blog I’ve discovered and met some amazing people. I suddenly felt pretty stressed this ‘portal’ wasn’t there and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I somehow stumbled across the amazing Naoko Takano through her blog. It stated she was a happiness engineer for WordPress so I sent a cry for help!

With her help and Alon from Go Daddy (who kindly called me from the US to chat through stuff) I got it all sorted. Both went out of their way and it felt above and beyond their jobs.

I asked Naoko a few questions about her role with the nice name and here’s what she had to say:

You’re a Happiness Engineer, what does your role entail?
Happiness Engineer’s goal is to make users happy and we do whatever it takes. Support, documentation, testing are the main things but sometimes it goes beyond any defined tasks.
I am currently focusing on translation (coordinating with volunteer & professional translators). I also speak at WordPress events in Japan from time to time.
If you are curious about the details, check out this link. I love the fact one of requirement is “patience and grace”

Who came up with the name ‘Happiness Engineer’?
Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress and Automattic).

What inspires you or is the key to life?
The fact that anything is possible if I spend time and work hard.

What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone? Or someone has done for you?
The kindest thing I have done probably is patiently listening to a friend who was going through a very hard time.
The host family who let me live with them during my 2 year in high school in the U.S. were the kindest people I’ve met in my life and they certainly changed my life.

Thanks Naoko. I guess the host family left a lasting impression and your job title suits you.

World Kindness Day – November 13th


Luckily I’ve just discovered its World Kindness Day tomorrow. Yesss.

The day started in 1998, by the World Kindness Movement, which now contains 18 member nations. Who’d have thought hey.
The purpose of World Kindness Day is to ‘look beyond ourselves, our country, culture, race and religion; and realise we are citizens of the world.’ For true progress to be made, surely we have to focus on this commonality. We begin to experience empathy for each other when we have things in common – so be kindaware!

Louise Burfitt-Dons heads up Kindness Day UK, which aims to promote the value of kindness in society and the amount of kind acts on this day. Their mission is to make everyone in the UK carry out an act of kindness on November 13th, what may you do?

She’s a very impressive women, check her out.

American Bear Film – an adventure in the kindness of strangers

American Bear Film sticker

I stumbled across American Bear a few months ago and can’t wait to see their film at the end of this year. Sarah and Greg travelled the country for 60 days, relying on the kindness of strangers. They did a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. Their belief: the power of the individual as the greatest resource for generating change in the world, starting with simple acts of kindness.

I’ve been in touch with Sarah and they really are great people, she kindly sent me some stickers from the US. I think I’ll create a little badge for my blog from it.

They have a lovely section on their site where you can email stories about kindness under ‘Your Voice’, they’re hoping to create a movement around acts of kindness, so get involved.