Build engaged audiences through publishing by curation.
Sign up with Facebook
Sign up with Twitter
Sign up with Linkedin
I don't have a Facebook, a Twitter or a LinkedIn account
Are you sure you want to delete this scoop?
Orla Kiely sent out a collection of sweet silhouettes with a military twist. Inspired by generations of intrepid British travelers to Africa and India, and by the Girl Guides — the local version of the Girl Scouts — Orla Kiely sent out a collection of sweet silhouettes with a military twist. There were cropped, dusty rose jackets with patch pockets and epaulets; navy blue coats with shiny gold buttons; and stiff raffia skirts with embroidered pockets. Prints took their cue from the African savannah: Zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and lions herded onto T-shirts, knits and flocked silk organza dresses with full skirts.
Love these feminine looks! Click on the image or title above to see the originaal post and view slideshow.
Conflict surrounds us.It feels like the world is falling into itself. At every turn is another great divide, another war -- of weapons, economics or fighting words.At the center of all conflict is an avoidance of love, a refusal to accept difference.How can we advocate for peace in this environment? How can we embrace diversity? Here's how: We seek love, not war, and work for harmony in our differences. We seek love, not war, in policy that honors our differences and the worth of each one of us. We seek love, not war, in business judgments based on what is good for all, not personal gain. We seek love, not war, in leadership that is inclusive and just. We seek love, not war, in teamwork in which we look out for one another and help everyone excel. We seek love, not war, in learning from one another. We seek love, not war.Whatever our role -- business manager, salesperson, educator, athlete -- we are each unique, with unlimited potential when we combine the traits that make us unique. But what contributions are possible when we are at war?Likewise, each one of us has been dealt our own hand of suffering. Through poor health, loss and pain, it is our search for meaning and purpose that drives us. But what meaning can we seek when we are at war?In all our actions, serving, thinking, we can make love our living and our calling. Working toward something with passion is the purest form of love. But what becomes of all that passion and potential when we are at war?People all over the world are filled with wisdom and knowledge. We each get to choose whether to use it in love or in war.At our strongest and best, we seek love in all aspects of our being. Because the truth is if we had nothing, no other gift, no other strength, no other wisdom, no other qualities, we could succeed on love alone.Without it we fail. Without we declare war. Without it you have to be wrong for me to be right. Let's carry a message of peace and harmony in all that we do -- I want us to know a world that is hopeful, peaceful and productive; a world in which we work together to help one another succeed, a world in which we care for the good things around us and stop the impulses of self-destruction.As Ghandi said in his definition of Namaste: "I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you of light, love, truth, peace and wisdom. I honor the place in you where, when you are in that place, and I am in that place, there is only one of us.Namaste.We can always choose love over conflict, kindness over struggle, peace over warfare, caring over battle, love over bloodshed, connection over disagreement and engagement over fighting.Will you join me?© 2013 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.
"People all over the world are filled with wisdom and knowledge. We each get to choose whether to use it in love or in war."
Love and appreaciate this message of peace and harmony. We always have a choice. ~ V.B.
It is an important leadership consideration.
How civil is your workplace? Recent research from Weber Shandwick indicates that more than 4 in 10 Americans have experienced workplace incivility, and 38% of Americans believe that the workplace is becoming more uncivil and disrespectful than a few years ago.Workplace civility is a global issue. For example, in 2006, a British court awarded a Deutsche Bank employee £800,000 in damages for a “relentless campaign of mean and spiteful behaviour designed to cause her distress.”There are hard dollar costs to workplace incivility. In AICI’s recent Civility Counts white paper, research from civility experts Christine Porath and Christine Pearson described pervasive declines in workplace productivity due to incivility. Intentional decreases in work effort (48% admitted this), time at work (reported by 47%), and work quality (38% fessed up to this) were reported. 80% lost work time worrying about uncivil incidents, 66% said their performance declined, and an amazing 78% reported a decline in their commitment to their organization.See Porath & Pearson’s HBR article “The Price of Incivility” for further insights from their research.Who is to blame for the lack of workplace civility? In the Weber Shandwick study, 65% of respondents put the responsibility on the shoulders of workplace leaders. That’s in line with my assessment; I believe leaders condemn or condone behavior in the workplace, by proactive action or intentional disregard or something in between.The benefits of civility are well-documented. The impact of the U.S. Veterans Affair’s “Civility, Respect, and Engagement in the Workplace” initiative demonstrates higher civility in VA facilities equated to fewer employee complaints, fewer sick leave hours, higher patient satisfaction and higher employee satisfaction over a four-year period.What can leaders do to increase workplace civility? Can leaders affect employee behavior? Absolutely. It requires a leader’s intentional effort to create clarity and boundaries, then hold everyone accountable for civil behavior.My culture clients have had success with these steps. First, create standards of values with behavioral definitions. One client defined their value of personal integrity by stating, “Ethics and integrity is how we earn the trust and respect that is critical to our success. Our customers trust us to be their advocate. Our suppliers trust us to be a equitable partner. As peers, we trust each other to uphold the highest standards of conduct every day.”The observable, tangible, measurable behaviors for this value include “I communicate honestly”; “I follow the law”; “I immediately report concerns to management or the ombudsman”; “I cooperate with and maintain the privacy of any internal investigation”; and “I ensure personal alignment with the company code of conduct and the policies that apply to my position.”These behaviors are stated in “desirable, proactive” terms. You’re not telling folks what NOT to do. And, if you see rude behavior or bullying or teasing, it is easy to engage in a conversation about redirecting people to desired behaviors.With values clearly stated, defined and behavioralized, leaders then must be role models of these behaviors. The integrity of your civil workplace is built upon the constant demonstration of valued behaviors by anyone in a leadership position.Once leaders are consistently demonstrating desired valued behaviors, leaders can then ask employees to model these behaviors, as well.Accountability can only come with clarity, demonstration and constant observation. Positive consequences encourage aligned, civil behavior while redirection or, where needed, negative consequences can quash misaligned, uncivil behavior.What are your experiences with workplace civility? What’s working to make your team members consistently civil to each other and to customers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
"What can leaders do to increase workplace civility? Can leaders affect employee behavior? Absolutely."
"Once leaders are consistently demonstrating desired valued behaviors, leaders can then ask employees to model these behaviors, as well."
It is possible to foster and encourage desirable behavior in any given environment or situation. ~ V.B.
Josef Ackermann quit Zurich Insurance in August following the death of the chief financial officer, Pierre Wauthier. Photograph: Gian Ehrenzeller/APJosef Ackermann is expected to step down from his boardroom post at Siemens, two weeks after his resignation as chairman of Zurich Insurance, according to a report by Reuters.The former Deutsche Bank chief executive quit Zurich Insurance last month following the death of the chief financial officer, Pierre Wauthier, who had left a suicide note referring to his working relationship with Ackermann.It marks a dramatic turn in the once stellar career of the 65-year-old who until last year who was one of Europe's most powerful bankers. When Ackermann left Zurich Insurance he cited pressure from Wauthier's family to "take my share of responsibility" for their loss. He also said he wanted to "avoid any damage to Zurich's reputation".Both Siemens and Ackermann's spokesman declined to comment on a report that he will step down from his position as second deputy chairman at the German industrial group.In June Ackermann clashed with fellow Siemens directors during a tussle over whether to oust the chief executive, Peter Loescher. When supervisory board chairman Gerhard Cromme pushed for Loescher to be removed immediately, Ackermann was among the few executives on the board to dissent, saying: "Gerhard, you can't do it this way."Ackermann is also a member of the nomination and succession committee at Royal Dutch Shell where he is a non-executive director, and a director at Investor AB, an investment company founded by Sweden's Wallenberg family.Siemens employs 13,000 people in the UK and recently secured a £1.4bn order to build more than 1,000 train carriages for the London Thameslink rail route.
Yes, you read that title correctly. I’ve never met an authentic leader who expected respect. Every authentic leader I’ve ever met knew from the start that any respect they received would have to be earned. There is no such thing as unearned respect. Your position or title doesn’t earn you respect; people may respect your position or title and they may respect the office you occupy but that doesn’t mean they respect you. That kind of personal respect must be earned and re-earned frequently. If you want respect then be respectful. Authentic leaders know that the best, and fastest, way to earn respect is to be respectful of others. When you talk down to people, when you put your needs before theirs, and when you “fudge” on the integrity issue you lose respect.You can be powerful, you can be brilliant, and you can have the appearance of success, and you still won’t have the respect of those around you. Authentic leaders are humble leaders. The world renown Pastor at our church recently retired after over 30 years in the pulpit. He was replaced by a 30 something Pastor with no prior experience leading any size church much less a large congregation like ours. That’s pretty heady stuff, most of the members of his staff are considerably more experienced than him, yet he is the guy. Today I heard him introduce himself as one of the Pastors here at Bethlehem. He could have rightfully said Lead Pastor or Head Pastor but instead he said one of the Pastors. That’s humble! That earns respect. Sadly, that type of humble leadership is all too rare these days.I’m going to doing something now that I wouldn’t normally do and something I don’t recommend, I’m going to make a very general broad statement. Here it is: if you’re constantly bragging about your power or your position or your brilliance I’d be willing to bet your people don’t have a lot of respect for you.It’s like this; authentic leaders don’t need to boss because they lead. They don’t need to command respect because their people willingly give it. To be more precise, they don’t need to command respect because their people give it back. If you want to be respected then show some respect, and remember, you’re the leader, you go first!
If you're an American and you're not having fun, it just might be your own fault. Our long national expedition is entering its 238th year, and from the start, it was clear that this would be a bracing place to live. There would be plenty of food, plenty of land, plenty of minerals in the mountains and timber in the wilderness. You might have to work hard, but you'd have a grand time doing it.That promise, for the most part, has been kept. There would be land rushes and gold rushes and wagon trains and riverboats and cities built hard against cities until there was no place to build but up, so we went in that direction too. We created outrageous things just because we could--the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, which started to rise the year after the stock market crashed, because what better way to respond to a global economic crisis than to build the world's tallest skyscraper? We got to the moon 40 years later and, true to our hot-rodding spirit, soon contrived to get a car up there as well. The tire tracks left on the lunar surface (tracks that are still there) are the real American graffiti.All human beings may come equipped with the pursuit-of-happiness impulse--the urge to find lusher land just over the hill, fatter buffalo in the next valley--but it's Americans who have codified the idea, written it into the Declaration of Independence and made it a central mandate of the national character. American happiness would never be about savor-the-moment contentment. That way lay the reflective café culture of the Old World--fine for Europe, not for Jamestown. Our happiness would be bred, instead, of an almost adolescent restlessness, an itch to do the Next Big Thing. The terms of the deal the founders offered are not easy: there's no guarantee that we'll actually achieve happiness, but we can go after it in almost any way we choose. All by itself, that freedom ought to bring us joy, but the more cramped, distracted, maddeningly kinetic nature of the modern world has made it harder than ever. Somehow there must be a way to thread that needle, to reconcile the contradictions between our pioneer impulses and our contemporary selves.Those impulses are very deeply rooted: pilgrims to the New World were a self-selected group. Not every person suffering under the whip of tyranny or the crush of poverty had the temperamental wherewithal to pick up, pack up and travel to the other side of the globe and start over. Those who did were looking for something--pursuing something--and happiness is as good a way of defining that goal as any. Once that migrant population started raising babies on a new continent, the odds were that the same questing spirit would be bred into or at least taught to the new generations as well.And it has been. It took us 100 years to settle the continent and less than 200 to become the world's dominant power. We snatched and grabbed and extracted, yes, but we gave back too. Happy people don't just accumulate fortune; they invent things--the lightbulb, the telegraph, the movie camera, the airplane, the mass-produced automobile, the polio vaccine, the personal computer, social media, the iPhone. And happy people are also generous people, rebuilding other nations (hello, Marshall Plan) and donating to charities; the U.S. still ranks No. 1 among all nations in per capita charitable giving.But what happens to a breed of people hardwired by genes or culture or both to build, build, build when most of the building is done? What happens when the sprinting dog actually catches the car? That first moon landing--Apollo 11--was a very big deal, something we had pursued like nothing else. But Apollo 12? Sort of a letdown.It's not as if we don't have the financial means to keep ourselves stimulated. We spent $118 billion on travel abroad in 2012; we spend close to $25 billion per year to attend sporting events and, combined with Canada, nearly $11 billion on movie tickets. We buy ourselves an annual $140 billion worth of recreational equipment and $200 billion of electronics.But that's consumptive happiness, the happiness that comes not from sowing but from reaping, not from building the house but from watching TV in your new living room. That may be the goal of the work, but it's a goal that, once achieved, can leave us feeling bored.Since 1972, only about one-third of Americans have described themselves as "very happy," according to surveys funded by the National Science Foundation. Just since 2004, the share of Americans who identify themselves as optimists has plummeted from 79% to 50%, according to a new Time poll. Meanwhile, more than 20% of us will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in our lifetimes and more than 30% from an anxiety disorder. By the time we're 18 years old, 11% of us have been diagnosed with depression.The gap between our optimistic expectations and the reality that a significant portion of the population is, of late, cranky and dissatisfied may be what has spawned the vast happiness industry. We tap that industry in a lot of ways--with pills (the Time poll found that 25% of American women and 5% of men say they are taking antidepressants), with food (48% of women and 44% of men admit to eating to improve their mood, contributing to the U.S. obesity epidemic), with self-improvement products and services (including books, audiobooks and seminars, self-improvement is a $10 billion-a-year industry, about the same as Hollywood), with borrowed wisdom (there are 5,000 motivational speakers in the U.S., earning a collective $1 billion per year). The pursuit of happiness, once an ideal, has become a big business but not an especially effective one; plenty of other countries are doing a lot better than we are without trying so hard. According to the 2012 World Happiness Report, published by the Earth Institute of Columbia University, the U.S. ranks 23rd on a 50-country happiness index, far behind No. 1 Iceland, No. 2 New Zealand and No. 3 Denmark and trailing Singapore, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam.If you're part of the demographic pursuing joy or just trying to quell some psychic angst, none of this is a surprise to you, nor is the way happiness is now being merchandised, since you may have spent more than your share of disposable income on meditation or yoga classes, life coaching or happiness apps. Part of the solution, however, may lie not in a product or a program but simply in a better understanding of the particular way Americans define happiness in the first place. There are answers to be found in our genes, in our collective psyche, in the workings of our brain. If it was possible for our ancestors to be happy on the prairie, it ought to be possible for us to be happy in our jobs, our families, our communities. We've got all the toys; now we need to relocate the joy, to tap into the propensities that allow us to take pleasure in striving--in, if you will, the pursuit.The Biology of HappyThe familiar notion that the descendants of immigrants, whether they arrived from old Europe 300 years ago or Asia last year, are heirs to a genetically optimistic temperament makes intuitive sense. But it also makes us uneasy, and it should. That way lies a belief in a sort of breedable, biological specialness--an exceptionalism we accept when it's preceded by the word American but that spooks us when the word is Russian or Chinese or Japanese.That said, simple biology--evident since Gregor Mendel started breeding his pea plants in the 19th century--dictates that the random mix of genetic traits within any one population will be amplified when that population starts breeding. That ought to be true for so-called immigrant genes too, and in 2011, that idea got a big boost when investigators at Harvard and Boston University analyzed a gene dubbed DRD4, which is associated with activity in the brain's dopamine receptors. The gene comes in several forms, or alleles. Of the three most common, one codes for even-temperedness and reflection, while the other two code for exploratory and impulsive behavior, as well as a taste for risk taking and a tolerance of novelty.When the investigators looked at the frequency of the different alleles in people around the world, they found that the farther along the migration route from Africa, the cradle of us all, through central Asia, Europe and the New World, the likelier people were to carry the two novelty-seeking alleles. Studies of another gene called 5-HTTLPR, related to serotonin transport, have yielded similar findings. The allele of that gene that codes for anxiety and risk avoidance is less common in individualistic cultures like that of the U.S.If genes play a role in shaping immigrant temperament, they do so in a subtle way. Serotonin and dopamine are often, simplistically, thought of as feel-good neurotransmitters. The more you have of them, the happier you are. But in the case of immigrants at least, the power of the chemicals is that they regulate what researchers straightforwardly call search activity--forward-looking behavior that often occurs in pursuit of a specific goal. Search activity simply feels good--a fact that helps explain why shopping for something is often more fun than buying it, hunting can be more enjoyable than actually bagging your prey, and so many politicians appear to have a better time running for office than holding it.What's more, explains Dr. Vadim Rotenberg, a psychiatrist and psychophysiologist at Tel Aviv University, the feel-good search experience can stimulate people to continue pursuing a goal even when they're having trouble achieving it. That's as good an explanation for immigrant persistence as there ever was. So how does a brain bred for the joy of pursuit react to stress and a climate of near constant distractions--both grindingly consistent features of the postindustrial world?At the neurological level, happiness is a very complex thing, and lots can go wrong. Studies of the brain conducted with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show varying levels of happiness-related activity in the left prefrontal cortex and the more primitive basal ganglia, which form part of the reward loop; the amygdala, which processes a range of basic emotions; the septal area, which is involved in the experience of empathy; and the anterior insula, which helps focus our attention on the things that are making us happy in the first place.Earlier this year, neuroscientist Sylvia Morelli of Stanford University and psychologist Matt Lieberman of UCLA used fMRIs to study how empathically people responded when they were looking at happy or sad images of other people. Empathic experiences are good proxies for personal ones because there's a lot of overlap in the regions of the brain in which they're processed; this is why sympathetic pain can make you squirm even though you haven't been injured and joy at a loved one's success can make you feel as if you succeeded too.In Morelli and Lieberman's study, the volunteers looked at the pictures either when they were free to focus on them completely or when they were trying to memorize an eight-digit number the researchers had assigned them. Consistently, the people operating under that so-called cognitive load showed reduced empathy reactions, with neural activity down across four different brain regions. People with uncluttered brains processed--and felt--things more deeply. "Being distracted reduces our empathy for others and blunts responses in the brain," says Morelli. "So it's possible that being distracted may also reduce our own happiness." Memorizing an eight-digit number is hardly something you do every day, but juggling e-mails, meeting deadlines and worrying about the next round of layoffs is, and that takes its toll.Get Rich, Get HappyIf tension is making us miserable, snuffing out all the good work our happy genes do, we've learned that one balm can fix it all: money. Never mind what you've been taught to the contrary, money can indeed buy happiness, at least in certain circumstances. It was in 1974 that University of Southern California economist Richard Easterlin first formulated his eponymous (and soon ubiquitous) Easterlin Paradox, which held that there is a threshold beyond which increases in income produce no commensurate increase in subjective well-being. Once basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) are met, we simply reach a satiation point. For a lot of people, this never met the plausibility test, and for Americans in particular, who have always been unembarrassedly O.K. with the goal of getting rich, who delighted in a movie in which a character flatly announced that greed is good, the satiation idea was especially troubling.Turns out we were right. The Easterlin Paradox held sway only until other researchers began poking at it, using longer-term data sets, testing them across multiple cultures and finding that while happiness may not rise as quickly as income (doubling your salary from $75,000 to $150,000 will not make you twice as happy) there is no such thing as growing numb to money. Indeed, just this April, a study by the Brookings Institution and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan analyzed data from 155 countries and found that not only does subjective well-being rise along with income but in wealthy countries the slope is actually sharper than it is in poorer countries. A 10% bump in a $50,000 income, for example, produces a greater happiness boost than a similar percentage increase in a $10,000 income, even though a little extra money at the lower end of the scale ought to have a more life-improving effect. Rich isn't just better; it's much better.That, at least, is how things shake out at the national and global level. At the individual and community level, it can be much different. If you're rich, your experiences are not the same as every other rich person's, and the same is true if you're poor. "A reporter once asked me, 'Yes or no, does money make people happy? No scientific waffling, just yes or no,'" says psychologist Edward Diener of the University of Illinois. "I hit Delete."A massive study Diener led that was published last December analyzed the responses of 806,526 people in 135 countries collected over the course of six years. It found that income corresponds more or less directly to happiness but only if a person's wealth and aspirations keep pace. Earning $170,000 per year might put you in the top 5% of American households, but if you're dreaming of a one-percenter's lifestyle, you'll be disappointed. "Money can boost happiness if it allows people to obtain more of the things they need and desire," says Diener. "But when their desires outpace what they can afford, even rising income can be accompanied by falling feelings of well-being."This is particularly problematic in the modern era. A century ago, everybody knew the names of the country's richest families--the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, the Astors--but they were little more than icons. You never really saw how they lived, which was just fine, since if you did, your little split-level house or sole-proprietor business would start to look pretty shabby. In an era of paparazzi and reality shows, everyone sees everything and almost all of us suffer by comparison with someone."Bertrand Russell used to say, 'Beggars do not envy millionaires, though of course they will envy other beggars who are more successful,'" says psychologist Cameron Anderson of the University of California, Berkeley. Anderson studies the difference between socioeconomic status--a purely arithmetical measure of how much money you make--and sociometric status, which is a measure of how well you compare with the people around you. Before the beggar could see the millionaire, those distinctions were easier to draw. Now the silos have been blown up or at least made transparent, a process that has accelerated dramatically in the era of social media.If you're on Facebook, there are more than 1.1 billion other people who can mainline their good times--their new car, their big house, their vacation that you'd have to save 10 years to take--straight into your brain. Half a billion people on Twitter can do the same, a punchy 140 characters at a time. The very setup of social media provides another way to keep score. You've got 50 Twitter followers? Great, but your best friend has 500, and Lady Gaga, in case you're counting, has 38 million. In the Time poll, 60% of respondents said they do not feel better about themselves after spending time on social media, and 76% believe other people make themselves look happier, more attractive and more successful than they actually are on their Facebook page."When it comes to hierarchies, people sort themselves into higher or lower positions," says Anderson. "There's a line of research in which you make people feel high or low by imagining themselves with someone above them or below them." If most of the people in your virtual circle seem better off than you, there's no imagination necessary.The irony is that those high-status folks may not feel much better than you, and not only because they too are always being exposed to someone who's better off than they are. Rather, their sense of well-being may hinge on why they're buying so many goodies and doing so much posting at all.In 2012 psychologist Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University conducted a study of nearly 1,000 participants, administering a series of questionnaires about the things they buy, the reasons they buy them and what their level of happiness is. The more a purchase was motivated by an effort to impress other people, the study found, the less of a happiness boost it conferred. While most of us flatter ourselves that we're above that kind of crassness, consider that every vacation photo you ever posted, every new article of clothing you imagined wearing into the office even as you were paying for it, every new car you bought and parked conspicuously in your driveway instead of invisibly in your garage was motivated by the same look-at-me impulse. In a wealthy culture like ours, there's a lot of opportunity for that kind of exhibitionistic spending, as well as for the letdown that follows when the happiness never comes.In those cases, Howell says, "it's as if your values and what you're interested in don't matter. You can think of it as a litmus test: Would you still engage in this experience if you could tell no one about it?"Howell is expanding his database with the help of an interactive website, BeyondthePurchase.org which allows users to take surveys about their buying practices. Their responses are lending support to the idea that another mistake we make is choosing to buy things instead of experiences. Your shoes are not unique; your TV's not unique. Your vacation to Rome or your family camping trip, however, are much more particularly yours since nobody else in the world did exactly the same things or shared them with exactly the same people you did. And far from wearing out, the memories of the experience grow richer over time. "Money can make you happy," Howell says. "But it's about how you spend it."The Stubbornness of HappinessIf there's an upside to America's down mood, it's that happiness and the ways we pursue it are so wonderfully adaptive. The country has been at this kind of societal inflection point before--many times before, really--and we've come through it with our spirit intact. Think we're in psychic crisis now? Try the existential crisis of the Civil War, which eventually led to rebuilding and reconciliation, peace and prosperity. Think overleveraged homes and lack of mobility spell the end today? Try the Great Depression. The rise of industrial America, which we usually think of as a good thing, probably felt a lot like our era does now to the workers back then, as people who really wanted to make money left the frontiers and poured into manufacturing centers. It was the end of homesteading and the beginning of clock punching, which seemed terrible, except that clock punching eventually made a lot of people rich or at least richer than they had been.We're adapting in similar ways now. Steel mills close and tech start-ups open; old media falters and new media emerges. None of it is easy; it's called disruption for a reason. But if the settler gazing out over 1,000 pristine acres felt that delicious frisson of neurotransmitters churning a century or two ago, why shouldn't the entrepreneur drafting a business plan or the Web designer preparing to launch a site experience the same thing?No American simply inherits happiness by dint of genes or birthplace or a brain set to sunny. Happiness, for a culture, is more like a vital sign, the temperature and heart rate of a nation. Like all vital signs, it can fluctuate. But like all vital signs, it has a set point, a level to which it strives to return. America's happiness set point has long been high and healthy--a simple gift of biology, history and environment maybe but a gift all the same. In our own loud and messy way, we've always worked to make the most of it, and we probably always will.Read more: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2146449,00.html#ixzz2eLsJKPjo
"Americans are free to pursue happiness, but there's no guarantee we'll achieve it. The secret is knowing how — and where — to look."
The movement to develop mindful leaders in business is at a tipping point, as interest from corporations, educational institutions and the media continues to grow. As Arianna Huffington recently pointed out on CNBC's Squawk Box: "The tipping point was very evident at the World Economic Forum in Davos this past January, with many oversold sessions on the topic and meditation being taught by leading practitioners like Matthieu Ricard, PhD (a Buddhist monk who is the Dalai Lama's scientific advisor)." I witnessed this personally by leading a sold-out Davos dinner on the topic and participating in two other sessions on "Mindful Leadership."What's causing this dramatic shift in our consciousness about what it takes today to be an effective leader? It starts with the changes taking place in the world. We live in an era of globalization and rapid technological change that is creating volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity. (VUCA is the acronym created by the U.S. Military Academy to describe the world of the 21st century.) Its impact is compounded by the rapidly changing job market and the new 24x7 communications world.This creates stress for executives and the institutions they lead. For institutions, the velocity of the business cycle and risks of the multi-polar global environment create instability. For individuals, the volatility creates more emotional ups and downs and can cause us to lose confidence. Amid such volatility, a reserve of mental and physical energy is required to be resilient.As I wrote in my 2009 book, Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis, resilience is the combination of heartiness, toughness and buoyancy of spirit. These qualities are necessary for leaders to persevere through struggling moments, bounce back from adversity and adapt to external stress.Resilience in ActionMany leading corporations -- Google, General Mills, Aetna, Genentech, Target, and Cargill, for example -- have created mindful leadership programs to build resilience in their employees. Google's and General Mills' programs are widespread through their employee base. Aetna's research on meditation and yoga has established their benefits for health and well-being.To develop the new military leaders needed for a VUCA world, West Point has also created multiple training programs on resilience. These include spiritual fitness as well as master resilience training programs to bolster mental toughness, cultivate strong relationships and build on one's strengths -- all qualities of mindful leaders. Martin E.P. Seligman's Harvard Business Review article, "Building Resilience," summarizes these initiatives.Alan Mulally's turnaround at the Ford Motor Company illustrates the value of resilience. He became CEO of Ford in 2006 and faced week after week of challenging news about the business. As the financial crisis peaked, Ford's very existence was at risk. As documented in Bryce Hoffman's American Icon, Mulally maintained an upbeat, positive spirit and can-do attitude that transformed Ford. He applauded those who offered bad news and encouraged the organization to view setbacks as learning opportunities en route to success.The Mindful LeaderThe best way to become more resilient is to develop oneself into a calm, compassionate and adaptable Mindful Leader. How does one become mindful? In 2011, I presented my ideas on authentic leadership to the Dalai Lama and asked him that question. He stressed the importance of creating daily mindful practices.Two practices have increased my resilience and shaped my leadership. The first is meditation, which I began in 1975, twenty minutes twice a day. This has been the single best thing to improve my effectiveness and sense of well-being. Meditation enables me to forget less important events and focus with clarity on significant issues. My most creative ideas come out of meditation. In addition, meditation increases my energy level and enables me to be more compassionate toward others.Meditation certainly isn't the only way to become mindful. Other regular practices include prayer, journaling, intimate discussions and solitary exercises like jogging, hiking and swimming. The important thing is to have some form of introspective practice that enables you to slow down your mind and reflect on what is important.Second, I have been meeting weekly since 1975 with a group of men to discuss our beliefs and life experiences. We serve as mirrors for each other, allowing us to maintain equilibrium under pressure and understand how we are perceived by others. In addition, my wife and I formed a couples group of eight people in 1983 that meets monthly for personal discussions. The format of these groups is similar to the Young President Organization's Forum and the small, intimate groups described in my book, True North Groups.Being Mindful Makes You a Better LeaderIn my experience, mindful people make much better leaders than frenetic, aggressive ones. They understand their reactions to stress and crises, and understand their impact on others. They are far better at inspiring people to take on greater responsibilities and at aligning them around common missions and values. They are better at focusing and are more effective at delegating work with closed-loop follow-up. As a result, people follow their mindful approach, and their organizations outperform others over the long-run.There is no cost to becoming mindful, and it makes far better use of your time. That's why it's catching on so rapidly. The tipping point is indeed here.
"In my experience, mindful people make much better leaders than frenetic, aggressive ones. They understand their reactions to stress and crises, and understand their impact on others."
Often stuttering is seen as a hindrance, perhaps even a disability. When most people are asked to name successful stutterers they tend to mention men like Joe Biden and Jack Welch. They marvel at the confidence and prestige of those stutterers who have somehow overcome their condition, whose voices no longer betray their speech difficulties.But if we look a little closer, the truth is more complex.In my research for Out With It I saw that many people who stutter end up being quite successful, gaining respect in everything from the boardroom to the basketball court. There were certainly those who were dissatisfied and unfulfilled, but those who were successful were not always those who had conquered their stuttering. Those people who had both excelled, and continued to stutter, seemed to have certain traits in common. I will explore traits of resilience in my next post but today I'm looking at the idea of embracing powerless communication, how it specifically relates to stutterers and how everyone can harness its power to generate trust and respect.I first came across the concept in Adam Grant’s New York Times bestseller Give and Take. Grant is the youngest tenured professor at The Wharton School and a prolific academic in the area of workplace dynamics. His seminal book gives remarkable insights into what actually works in communication.In his chapter on the power of powerless communication, Grant argues that, when it comes to collaboration, we are more inclined to hire, promote and value people who communicate powerlessly. This includes: talking tentatively; asking people questions (giving them the joy of talking), specifically asking them for advice; and being open about our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, not just our strengths.The first two are relatively easy to understand and implement, I find the latter the most intriguing. It is worth exploring through the lens of stuttering.When writing Out With It I discovered how often people are drawn to stutterers, how likeable they seem to be. At first I balked against the discovery, worrying that the attraction was perhaps born of pity. However, the more people I spoke to, the more I realised it was the opposite - they were drawn to the stutterer’s courage and lack of artifice. In a world full of noise and nonsense, stutterers were seen as somehow trustworthy and genuine. Because their speech had nothing to do with their competence, it did not demean them in their audiences’ eyes. Rather it raised them up.The idea that something that we often perceive as a weakness can actually be an important asset was a personal breakthrough, but Grant proves that the idea is applicable to anyone wishing to improve their communication.Everyone has a weakness, whether it be their weight, their height, their looks, their clumsiness etc. Often our weaknesses have nothing to do with our competence, but we try to hide them to appear in control or knowledgeable or attractive. In actuality, when we speak in a way that reveals our shortcomings and expresses vulnerability, people can relate to us as a human beings. They are attracted to us.What do you think? Would you ever share your weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the work place?
"How honesty about your imperfections can increase your influence over others." We are human after all.
Bad management appears to be an epidemic, costing the economy a total of $360 billion every year in lost productivity. 65% of employees say they would take a new boss over a pay raise, and 3 out of every 4 employees say their boss is the most stressful part of their job.It’s not like we’re not trying: according to the American Society for Training and Development, in 2011, U.S. firms spent about $156 billion on corporate training. Against this backdrop, what have we learned in 2012 that might help us improve the quality of leadership? Here are five of the bigger findings.1. Why incompetent leaders keep getting hiredThere’s a reason we hire poor leaders. It’s not because of incompetent HR departments, or poor competency frameworks. According to a new study to be published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, narcissism increases one’s chance of acing a job interview. The more extroverted someone is, the more likely they will be hired. In short, we hire poor leaders because they interview better.Unfortunately, narcissism doesn’t equate with leadership success. Studies suggest that overconfidence can often have a detrimental effect on an individual’s performance and decision-making. An arrogant boss is simply bad for business. This is because they do not mentor their employees nor do they motivate their team enough to benefit the organization as a whole. This contributes to a negative workplace atmosphere. Organizational psychologist and professor Stanley Silverman of The University of Akron and Michigan State University developed a measure of arrogance, called the Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) to help organizations differentiate between narcissism and competence before they experience a costly impact.If overconfidence is a natural tendency for some, employers must recognize this as a potential flaw rather than an asset. Good interviewers look out for these tactics, and know how to look past them.2. More women increase a team’s smarts“Collective Intelligence” is the study of how small groups make decisions and solve problems, literally how smart teams are and why. It turns out that teams have a relatively stable intelligence over time, just as individuals do, and this intelligence can be measured and compared.A key researcher in this space is Dr. Christopher Chabris of Union College. To measure collective intelligence, Chabris divided 700 volunteers into small groups to work on tasks that required collective decision-making and collaboration. In the end, three factors were found to be consistent in the teams with the highest rate of intelligence: the ability of group members to read and respond to other’s social cues, an open climate with an even exchange of ideas from all members, and lastly, the number of women in the group. Groups with more women were found be more intelligent due to the fact that women tend to be better at reading social cues.While teams can impact an individual’s performance negatively, with increased costs of collaboration, invisible delays, conflicts with formal work processes, the reality is that much work today requires a team. Understanding the elements that make teams (rather than individuals) smarter may be a key to improving the quality of management.3. To increase engagement, share more informationCompanies keep a lot of secrets. However, as of 2012, some 5,000 courageous firms are adopting what is called ‘open book management’, where the firm’s financials are available to everyone. A smaller subset of companies are embracing something best described as ‘radical transparency.’ Imagine information that is normally kept very private (think performance metrics, people’s personal goals and weekly progress charts, and even their expense reports) being available to everyone in the firm 24/7.One company using radical transparency is Qualtrics. Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith believes it alleviate the distractions, fears, threats, and negativity that hinder concentration. He thinks it helps increase focus and engagement, and helps grow the right talent because we can all truly dig in to see people’s performance.From a neuroscience perspective, this makes sense. As Dan Radecki explained at the recent NeuroLeadership Summit in NYC, “Our brains work best when we no longer feel the need to hide, cover up our mistakes, or dwell on errors. We do better when we aren't mentally bogged down in a "threat response" worrying about which of our colleagues is the boss' "flavor of the month," getting a hasty promotion, or badmouthing our work”.Not every firm is going to jump on the transparency bandwagon, but in this world of information flowing more freely than ever I wonder if this will become an increasing trend. More research is needed here.4. Turns out leadership really is personal Bosses are typically viewed as arrogant individuals who drive people using objectives and metrics. One study found that 60% of employees are miserable—not because of low pay, poor workplace benefits, or insufficient vacation days—but because they don’t feel connected at work.At the recent NeuroLeadership Summit, Naomi Eisenberger and George Kohlrieser layed out the reasons why impersonal leadership fails. George Kohlrieser who had a background in hostage negotiation before becoming a leadership professor, explained how most employees feel as if they are hostages, drowning in feelings such as anxiety and fear in the workplace. The way to escape from feeling like prisoners of these emotions, Kohlrieser says, is by finding a place where we feel a sense of security. Whether that is in another person, place, or with an object, we all gravitate towards things that give us comfort—and where we feel the most accepted, we thrive.Naomi Eisenberger's research helps us understand the science behind this. She says that a lack of feeling socially connected with others evokes feeling of pain—emotional and physical. The painful feelings that come with social rejection or loss, such as loneliness, also activate regions of the brain that respond to physical pain as well. An experiment Eisenberger conducted at UCLA, even showed that taking Tylenol actually reduced feelings of pain as a result of social isolation and rejection.We think that leadership should be cold and hard. That may well work when we can motivate people with ever increasing bonuses, but in a world of shrinking resources and increasing uncertainty, motivating through a sense of safety and connection may be a better recipe for engagement than through fear. It may be time for leaders to lead more with their hearts, and not just their heads.5. Being the boss isn’t so stressful after allYes, you read the title correctly. A new study from James Gross of Stanford University and six of his colleagues, the higher people are in the pecking order, the less stress they experience.Gross’ finding can be explained using the SCARF model®, a model I published in 2008. SCARF® stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness—and these five specific social experiences either create a strong threat or reward response in the brain.Taking the first attribute, status; Cameron Anderson from Berkeley showed in a study that having a higher status among others mattered more than a pay increase when it came to one’s happiness. This higher status means more autonomy at work. In addition, higher-level leaders often have much more certainty than their junior colleagues in part because of the security given to them from their long-term contracts and big pay packages. And due to these million dollar salaries, I would suspect that many of these senior leaders perceive the world as being fair.Thus, despite the fact that CEOs often have a lot more on their plate than lower leaders, they experience many more reward responses that those under them may do.In summary, we’ve learned a lot about leadership this year – with many findings being surprisingly counter-intuitive. Let’s stop hiring the most confident, start to share more information, increase the percentage of woman at the top, and remember that leadership really is personal. Perhaps none of this is ‘new news’, but it is exciting to see the research catch up to our hunches. Happy holidays to all.
Here are the five "bigger" research findings. My fave is numero cuatro: Leadership is personal. That connection is key if not paramount.
1. Why incompetent leaders keep getting hired
2. More women increase a team’s smarts
3. To increase engagement, share more information
4. Turns out leadership really is personal
5. Being the boss isn’t so stressful after all
(From the article): We’ve learned a lot about leadership this year – with many findings being surprisingly counter-intuitive. Let’s stop hiring the most confident, start to share more information, increase the percentage of woman at the top, and remember that leadership really is personal. Perhaps none of this is ‘new news’, but it is exciting to see the research catch up to our hunches.
By Nick EnglishLearning hacks -- they're a thing, and while the college kids are heading back to school, it's a good time for all of us to rethink the ways we learn. Student, professional, or parent, we're all learning every day -- whether it's how to play guitar, use new software, raise a child or poach an egg, the mind is always soaking up new information. Make it easier with the following tips.Prime Your Mind -- Creating Habits That Optimize Learning
With a little regular maintenance, the mind can become razor-sharp and ready to tackle any challenge and absorb new information. Keep the brain in tip-top shape by making regular habits out of the following activities.1. Work OutLifting weights and doing cardio carry a host of physical benefits (see: almost everything on this site), but turns out exercise can also improve learning and memory. If your thoughts are muddled, try taking a brisk walk or heading to the gym. One study found that memory and cognitive processing (the ability to think clearly) improved after a single 15-minute exercise session.2. MeditateRegularly getting your om on isn't just great for managing stress, it also improves memory, impulse control and attention span.3. Eat Polyunsaturated Fatty AcidsPUFAs (particularly omega-3 fatty acids) are crucial for brain function and help control the brain's learning and memory centers. Salmon is a famously terrific source of omega-3s, but other fish, such as herring and mackerel, contain a similar amount. Meat-free sources of PUFAs include walnuts, peanuts and chia and pumpkin seeds.4. SleepWhen the crunch is on, people often sacrifice their Zzs in favor of more time to work or study. But the extra smidge of work that gets done isn't worth the morning zombie eyes: Getting adequate sleep every night is absolutely crucial for brain function, good judgment, reaction time, and even using consistent grammar. The mind of a sensible sleeper will learn much faster, justifying the hours “lost” by getting an early night.5. Drink WaterThis tip might be a no brainer (pun intended), but dehydration is more widespread than you might think. Reaction times, responsiveness and overall mental processing improve with hydration, so invest in a BPA-free water bottle and take it absolutely everywhere. Also remember that a lot of common foods, particularly fruits, are surprisingly good sources of water.6. Practice YogaThere's an easy way to increase your brain's grey matter: Do yoga. Yogis also report fewer cognitive failures, i.e., errors in perception, memory and motor function.7. Take Up A HobbyIt's important to spend some time each day on activities other than work or studying. Not only does the brain need time to take stock of all the learning it's done, but picking up unrelated hobbies can make you smarter. Try something that requires a lot of concentration and hand-eye coordination: One study found people who took up juggling classes demonstrated an increase in their grey matter (though it disappeared once they quit). That's one more reason to never stop learning new things.8. Set An AgendaSuccess is often tied to the ability to implement structure in one's life, so it's a good idea to set goals and create realistic study schedules. By "realistic," we don't just mean allocating more than an hour for that 5,000 word report -- it's also important to schedule time to recover between bouts of intense work, whether it's learning new software or how to drive stick. Scheduling in relaxation time for the brain is called "the spacing effect," and it's known to improve long-term recall.9. LaughAllocating time to relax is important to avoid burnout, but it's even better to do so with people who make you giggle. The simple act of laughter has been shown to help with problem solving and creativity. Funny, right?10. Check Your MotivationAsk, the question, "Why am I learning this?" People learn better if information seems useful to them, and particularly if they believe it can have an impact on their community. Choose a course, hobby or career (gulp) that's important to you and gets you excited.Learning To Learn -- How To Practice And Study RightNow that you're ready to focus on learning new skills or information, try to be mindful of the following tips.11. Warm Up Your BrainHave a little fun before you begin work: Try mentally "warming up" for your brain workout with rhyming games or by uttering nonsense words. It'll help you loosen up and become more receptive to learning.12. Find A FriendIf keeping yourself on task is an uphill battle, trying asking someone to join you. Learning in groups (be it a class, book club or with a buddy) could be a good idea to help maintain focus and add some accountability to the process.13. Check Your SurroundingsThe right learning environment is paramount. In general, it should be clean and quiet, but it's also a great idea to add some novelty: Try working in a park, a café or even just a different room in your home. Avoid lying in bed, though -- while a study area should be comfortable, the bed is psychologically associated with sleep and relaxation. You'll concentrate better elsewhere.14. Develop MetacognitionThis is the overarching theme in most literature about improving the learning process, and has been studied by teachers since Aristotle was lecturing in the 4th century, BC. The concept of metacognition emphasizes not just understanding material, but understanding how you understand it. Learn to step back from your first impression, question your own knowledge, and evaluate whether and how you're digesting new material. Sometimes this is as simple as not reading so fast when the language is difficult, or developing a new system for taking notes. Most simply, metacognition is about being reflective about the learning process and making adjustments as needed.15. Do One Thing At A TimeThe ability to multitask might be lauded as an invaluable trait, but switching back and forth between tasks has been shown to increase the time it takes to complete them. Try to embody a different strength: single-mindedness.16. Don't Be Afraid To FailA group study in Singapore found that people who tried to solve difficult math problems without any instruction or help were more likely to fail -- but in the process, they came up with a lot of ideas about the nature of the problems and what solutions might look like, which helped them perform better with similar problems later on. This phenomenon is called "productive failure." While it's akin to the frustrating process of trial and error, it keeps the mind creative and flexible.17. Test YourselfDon't wait until the week of the exam or the big piano recital -- self-test regularly, or (even better) have a classmate or friend ask the questions. If it's difficult to remember the answer fairly quickly, it's best to look it up. Otherwise, you're really learning the "error state" of drawing a blank when asked the question. While "productive failure" (see: #16) is useful for problem solving, repeatedly failing to recall something that requires rote memorization (e.g. History or Law) won't improve your learning abilities.18. Always Be Compressing (ABC)This was a cornerstone of Tim Ferriss’ bestselling guide to learning quickly. Try as hard as possible to fit all of the necessary information into an easy one -- or two -- pager by using mnemonic devices like acronyms or rhymes. Better yet, try turning information into an image, such as a graphic, chart or mind map. Visualizing knowledge in different ways helps to give it a stronger representation in your mind.19. Conditionalize The InformationIn other words, study up on the broader applications of whatever you're learning (i.e., figure out why it matters). Textbooks (and bad teachers) often present facts and formulae without giving any attention to helping students learn the conditions under which they're most useful. Working to understand when, where, and why the knowledge is important will help to solidify it in your mind.20. Use Multiple MediaThe more ways you experience information, the more likely you are to retain it. Different media activate different areas of the mind, and we recall things more quickly and retain knowledge better when multiple parts of the brain are working in concert. Try reading, listening to a podcast, watching YouTube videos, saying material out loud and writing about it by hand (just not all at the same time).21. Connect With Existing KnowledgeIf you can tie what you're learning to something you've learned before, it helps to improve recall speed and promote new learning. For instance, if you're learning about Macbeth, it might help to link the play with your knowledge of Shakespeare, Scotland, the Middle Ages or your favorite Olsen twins movie, Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. Embed your studies within as much of your brain's existing framework as possible.22. Establish ConsequencesA lot of people fall short of their goals because there are no ramifications if they quit. Remedy the issue by committing to negative incentives (such as doing your roommate's laundry for a month) should you fail to stick with your goals. Or, sign up for StickK, an online service that holds money in escrow and donates it to an "anti-charity" of your choice if your goal isn't met (think donating to the Democratic Party if you're a Republican, the NRA if you're anti-gun, etc.).23. Be ConfidentLastly, be confident and know that you'll do great. Not just because it's the truth, but because simply believing in one's intelligence has been shown to improve it. Don't worry about a thing, friend. You've got this.
Every organization needs a great leader charting the course--but you must have leaders within your company as well. Some of today’s most effective businesses encourage every one of their employees to take on leadership roles in their organizations. When employees throughout a business become leaders, decisions are made more quickly, customers are happier and tremendous amounts of time, energy and money can be saved. Here’s how.1. Promote Teamwork Across BordersBust silo thinking by building cross-functional teams that cut across departmental boundaries to take full advantage of the ideas and expertise of all of your people. When you assign employees to these teams, encourage them to take on both formal and informal leadership roles, and reward them when they do it. This practice will also lead to improved communication throughout your organization, greater ability to capitalize on opportunities and better solutions to very difficult problems.2. Be Generous With InformationLeaders, no matter what their position in the company, need a steady stream of information about your business, customers and markets to make good decisions. Instead of withholding information from your people, be free and transparent with it. This will give employees the information they need to confidently step into leadership roles as necessary, taking responsibility for achieving the goals of your organization.3. Let Your Employees Make DecisionsDon’t just talk employee empowerment--really do employee empowerment. By giving employees at every level of your organization decision-making authority (including such things as determining what products will be designed and sold to customers, creating work schedules, hiring and firing), you will unleash a widespread desire on the part of employees to lead. Of course, not every employee will step up, but you may be surprised by how many do.4. Be Passionate About Your MissionPassion gives employees a compelling reason to undertake ambitious responsibilities and to step up to challenges as they occur. Create a strong sense of mission in your organization and ensure it is reflected in your company culture. Then seek out and hire people who resonate with and are excited by it, and provide ways for them to participate in this mission in any way they can.5. Create Clear RolesWhen employees are uncertain about what their roles are or what expectations you have for them, they are less likely to take the risk of stepping into positions of leadership. Creating clear roles is an essential precondition for employees who want to lead, so be sure to give them the firm footing they want and need by clearly spelling out their jobs and your expectations.The most effective businesses today encourage every employee to take on leadership roles. Not only will this take some burden off of your shoulders, but your employees will happier, more engaged in your business and more effective.
Thanks Don for sharing!
It takes a confident and humble leader to encourage their team to lead. It means that the leader doesn't believe that they need to have all of the answers or the best ideas. The right collaborative environment is the foundation with teams who are empowered to take decisions, and take the lead.
These type of leaders don't point fingers when mistakes are made...instead they take the bullet. They give the recognition away, and the team has that spark of excitement, passion, and ownership. They know that when the goal is achieved...their team did it on their own.
Make it a great day!
Leadership is about influence and setting the right environment. It is not about coercion and micro-managing.
Negative emotion motivates change. Without negative feelings you get more of the same. Emotions like sadness, fear, anger, and hatred, typically indicate something’s wrong.Negative emotions challenge.Positive emotions confirm.Stuck-people need more fear and anger, not less. Fear they’ll miss what they love and anger it’s getting away.Transforming negative emotion to positive action:OwnStop blaming. Negative emotion is yours not theirs. Others may have done you wrong but the way you feel about it is yours. Own it don’t blame it.Transformation begins when youown negative emotions.EndStop what’s not working. Endings create beginnings. Transformation requires an ending.Blamers focus on stopping others and changing circumstances. But, the first thing to change is your attitude. Forget about changing others. Change you.Fear and anger point “out there” to what isn’t working. But, real change begins when we acknowledge we, not they, are the issue.Responses are more important than circumstances.StartEmbrace power; reject helplessness. Blame is the friend of helplessness.Helpless people wallow in fear and anger. But, power rises up when helplessness exits.Eliminate helplessness: Name it. Leaders courageously define reality. Share it. Find a trusted friend and spill your guts. Enable strength by stepping out in small ways. You will rise up. Helpless people confirm their helplessness by explaining what can’t be done. Find allies. Start over. All big goals require starting over, again.Bonus: Reject perfection. Embrace better.Transformative moments aren’t comfortable but they are necessary.Wallowing in negative emotion destroys the future and confirms the past. Transform negative emotion by owning, ending, and starting.
"It's not you," said Julia."The timing, well, it's just that the timing..."I don't remember all the banality that followed, clichés stutter-stepping through the lips of a person I'd known so intimately the day before. I felt numb and dissociated. Like when I'd been in a car wreck as a boy, I understood only that something awful had just blindsided me.Julia fled the restaurant right after her coup de grace. It was Valentine's Day, and the place was jammed with celebrating couples. Eventually, I managed to stand up. I moved outside and wandered the streets for hours in a fugue state fueled by shock.We had first met nearly a year before at a public lecture on the novels of D.H. Lawrence. The finer points of Women in Love escaped me entirely, so distracted was I by the high cheekbones, gray eyes, long, blond hair in a French twist, the figure both voluptuous and athletic. Her beauty seized me and would not let go.With my previous girlfriends, sex had been exhilarating recreation, as fun as a high-speed water slide. Alas, the thrills always seemed to wane as I grew accustomed to the curves of the course. This did not happen with Julia. Sometime around our 6-month mark, it dawned on me: We'd stopped having sex and begun making love, a distinction that had previously seemed like something fabricated by relationship "experts."As we neared our first anniversary, I found myself bonded in ways I'd never felt with another human being. Julia was the smartest, most fascinating woman I'd ever met. She made me feel that I was intelligent, witty, attractive, worthy -- in short, one of life's winners.Looking back, it's hard to imagine a better setup for a crash.Over the past decade, evolutionary psychologists, neuroscientists, and pharmaceutical researchers alike have begun to shed fascinating new light on heartbreak. The forces that bind two people in union are powerful, but love's dissolution is more potent still -- a trauma to the brain and body that in some cases can be all but indistinguishable from mental illness.For example, in a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that of 114 Americans who had been romantically rejected in the 8 weeks prior to the study, 40 percent remained clinically depressed -- 12 percent moderately to severely so."A heart broken from love lost rates among the most stressful life events a person can experience," says David Buss, Ph.D., the author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. "It's exceeded in psychological pain only by horrific events, such as the loss of a child."The end of a long-term relationship can be extraordinarily traumatic, especially for a man whose mate cheats on him, suddenly announces she wants a divorce, or dies. Researchers have discovered that the flood of stress hormones accompanying such events can weaken the heart, one reason laymen and clinicians alike have dubbed the phenomenon Broken Heart Syndrome.But even when the heart is not literally broken, heartbreak can still prove lethal in other ways. Rejected men kill themselves at three to four times the rate that spurned women do. And the mix of grief and alcohol almost certainly dispatches a legion more men through car crashes, fights, and assorted misadventures, even though they aren't called suicides on death certificates.So why does heartbreak hurt so badly? To answer that, you have to first understand what you're really losing.Go on to the next page to understand the dynamic of lust, attraction, and attachment...Of lust, attraction, and attachmentLove may seem like a solitary force, but experts now know that at least three drives goad our urge to mate. Each of these largely independent puppet masters steers our actions through various neurotransmitters and pathways in the brain.The most primitive of these drives is lust, which propels us to seek sex with a range of partners. Lust is fueled mainly by testosterone in men and women alike. Scanning with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has pinpointed two brain regions strongly associated with this hormone of horniness: the hypothalamus, deep in our ancient "reptilian" brain, and the nearby amygdala, a key to the processing and memory of strong emotions.The second and arguably more potent of our reproductive drives is known simply as "attraction" in birds and mammals, and "romantic love" in humans. Unlike lust's procreate-with-everyone approach, romantic love is a system that focuses our energies intensively and selectively on a preferred mate. It's what we feel, in other words, when we meet "the one" and become determined to win her heart. From an evolutionary perspective, it's a highly adaptive drive that keeps our eyes on the prize and prevents us from squandering time and resources on suboptimal prospects.Neuroimaging studies of men and women who are "madly in love" reveal significantly elevated activity in the brain area known as the ventral tegmental area, or VTA. "This is a very primitive part of the brain that appeared quite early in our evolution," says Lucy Brown, Ph.D., a research neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York. Cells in the VTA make and distribute dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical to motivation and reward. Dopamine drives us to look for food, water, sex, and love -- and when our search pays off, it rewards us. "Dopamine," says Brown, "seems to convey a basic message when love is requited: 'This is good,' it tells us. 'This is a key to our survival.'"Our third system is called "attachment" in animals, and "companionate love" in humans. Though arguably less flamboyant than the other two, this drive is critical in cementing the bonds vital to cooperative parental care. In fairy tales, attachment is the "happily ever after" part; in real life, it often unravels after the kids are raised.Attachment is not an all-or-nothing proposition, but a gradual process that appears to be likely facilitated by two other hormones that flood the brain during intimacy: oxytocin, dubbed the "cuddle compound," and vasopressin, a tension-taming peptide that thus far has no catchy nickname.In an attempt to clarify what happens when attachment is broken, Todd Ahern, Ph.D.(c), a neuroscience researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, examined the impact of sudden mate removal on the behavior of the male prairie vole, a highly social rodent known to form monogamous bonds. "Males who were able to stay with their female partners showed no problems on standard tests we use as models for depression," he says. "But the males whose honeys were plucked away performed much worse." When the heartbroken voles were given a drug that counteracts a potent stress hormone, their performance normalized. The voles that were allowed to keep their mates, on the other hand, showed no benefits from this drug. The emerging hypothesis, Ahern says, is that separation's effects are twofold: It leaves males bereft of stress-relieving compounds -- like oxytocin -- and spikes their level of stress hormones. The result is heartbreak and, in some cases, depression.As intriguing as such new discoveries are, researchers concede they are just beginning to fathom the shifting interplay of genes, brain chemicals, and neural pathways involved. "Love is a bouillabaisse in the brain," says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University and a preeminent researcher in the biology of love, "and we're not even close to knowing everything that goes into the soup."Perhaps if Julia had rejected me earlier or later on in the relationship, my heartbreak might have taken a different form. All I know is that the ingredients in my own brain soup were bubbling on high boil the day she dumped the cauldron in my lap.Go on to the next page for more on the science of heartbreak...In the days, weeks, and months following my St. Valentine's Day massacre, it's hard to say what hurt more. Moodwise, a persistent despondency alternated with sharp spikes of anxiety, a tag team that made it all but impossible for me to sleep or eat. Providing running commentary on these feelings was a nonstop flood of intrusive thoughts and images that assaulted me both day and night.When scenes of Julia fornicating with somebody new arose unbidden in my mind, I was overcome with rage and fantasies of revenge. Other times, I'd suddenly find myself reliving memories of her in her sweetest, most endearing, most vulnerable moments. The urge to once again comfort Julia and make her happy became, if anything, an even worse torment than thoughts of strangling her.When I found myself cataloging her perfections, I tried, in vain, to negate each one with a flaw. But these, too, served only to make her more human and endearing.Obsessive despair is endlessly inventive -- it has a genius for knowing what a sufferer least wants to hear. It's like being trapped in a box with a loudspeaker that amplifies your own voice, continuously broadcasting your shortcomings. Nothing I would do could make me shut up.On a parallel track to all of this ran the feverish schemings of an addict. Cravings for a Julia fix could be set off by almost anything -- a whiff of her perfume, a once-shared haunt, songs on the radio, a car that vaguely resembled hers. I couldn't escape even in sleep -- I had recurring dreams that she'd never left, dreams that turned to nightmares at the moment of waking.After 2 months of this, I tried to replace Julia with another woman. The woman was kind and pretty, but her smell was cloying in its sweetness. Once when she hugged m e, it was all I could do to keep from spitting on her. She wasn't Julia, and that was something I couldn't forgive.While Julia and I were together, I'd desired her intensely for the pleasure she brought me. In her absence, pleasure now seemed the merest of trifles. What I craved from her now was a cure for the pain.It's easy to see why natural selection would favor our ancestors' capacity to feel love's rewards -- what Fisher has called "the mind/body opium" of romantic triumph. Much harder to understand is why they would also have passed down such a capacity for suffering when love fails."Just as evolution has installed reward mechanisms that flood our brains with pleasure when we are successful in love," explains Buss, "so it has equipped us with brain circuits that deliver searing psychological pain when we fail."Intuitively, this doesn't seem to make any sense. Given how incapacitating heartbreak can be, wouldn't we be better off inheriting bounce-back genes -- the kind that could let us shrug off rejection and move on without missing a beat? As every weeping reject asks himself endlessly, what possible good can come from such persistent pain?"There's a knee-jerk bias we have that only 'feel-good' states are adaptive, and things that make us feel bad are pathological," says Matthew C. Keller, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "But there are actually many unpleasant states -- pain, fever, nausea, and diarrhea, for example -- that definitely don't feel good but are nevertheless highly adaptive."Protest and surrenderIn the book A General Theory of Love, three research psychiatrists say romantic rejection triggers a two-phased response in humans as well as many other mammals. During the initial protest stage, our brains are flooded with extra dopamine, norepinephrine, and similar excitatory compounds -- leaving us more obsessed, energized, and desperately in love than ever. Such "frustration attraction" provides extreme motivation to regain our beloved."When something is enormously important to us, it makes sense that we don't give up too easily," says Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a professor of social psychology at Stony Brook University.With the help of fMRI scanning, Aron, Fisher, and Brown have begun to reveal the relentless neural pathways that goad such efforts. Early scans of volunteers who were "truly, madly, deeply" in love showed activation patterns reminiscent of getting a cocaine hit. A follow-up study of heartbroken individuals who had been recently dumped by mates they still adored showed activity in some of the same basic regions lit by an addiction. But it had shifted slightly -- to regions seen in compulsive gamblers craving a big win.In other words, we seem to become as desperate as junkies deprived of a fix. For a while, at least, says Fisher, neurons that have become accustomed to love's chemical rewards become even more active when such rewards are delayed. The system curbs itself only when the hit never comes, and then the hopelessness of heartbreak's second phase, resignation, sets in.With the abandonment of hope often comes deep pessimism and self-recrimination over the many ways we've screwed up. Though it's highly unpleasant at the time, evolutionary biologists suspect such forced introspection is necessary for us to learn from our loss. "When you've suffered a major setback in life," says Keller, "it's actually unhealthy to feel optimistic. The pain and obsessive thoughts of heartbreak force us to gear back and really think things through, examine our strategies and mistakes before we rush out and try again."Another hallmark of this stage: crying. Emotional tears are linked to the brain's limbic system, the locus of emotional regulation. No one knows for sure what this means, or even if crying is therapeutic. A 2008 University of South Florida study, however, found that nearly 90 percent of surveyed Dutch adults said crying brought them some degree of relief from sadness.Tears may serve another critical purpose, as well -- a signal to your friends and loved ones that you need their social support. "Research has shown," says Keller, "that crying triggers empathic behavior in friends -- it makes them want to help the person who is suffering."Perhaps the most perplexing of all of heartbreak's symptoms is dramatic weight loss, which seems, anecdotally at least, to plague more men than women. One leading theory is that it allowed our ancestors to hunker down and survive on reduced resources while still laid low by grief. In ancient times, hunting was surely a treacherous affair, demanding peak concentration. Addled by heartbreak, the loss of appetite might have been a saving strategy: Lose some pounds, but not your life.In modern times, of course, a new advantage to this has emerged for many of us, one that nature almost certainly did not predict. To wit, for those of us inclined to fatten in contentment, there's nothing like the loss of love to steer us back to fighting weight.Go on to the next page for more on how to deal with heartbreak..."Ever has it been," wrote Kahlil Gibran, "that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." In my case, the poetry of Philip Milito comes closer to the mark: "We desire, the way a twice-poisoned dog eyes a third piece of meat."This hunger overwhelmed my capacity to resist more times than I care to remember. Sometimes I'd call Julia late at night, hoping she'd mistake my beer-slurred bravado for something else -- what, exactly, I'm not sure. The first few times I called, she answered her phone and seemed, for a minute or two, almost kind. She'd reaffirm that it wasn't me -- that the two of us had just met at the wrong stage of life.From there, it would invariably deteriorate. I'd ask her as calmly as I could to give me a second chance, and when she answered no, I'd plead my case with increasing desperation. Each time, it ended in the same humiliation: me begging and in tears, she composed but unmovable.Eventually, she stopped answering her phone altogether.So I'd cruise by her apartment sometimes late at night, checking for bedroom lights and strange vehicles in her parking lot. During the last episode of quasi-stalking, I climbed her steps and raised my hand to knock on her door. But something stopped me, though I'm not sure what. As irrevocable as the loss of her love was, perhaps I knew I could still lose much more.The last time I saw Julia was at a reservoir that we used to visit together. I was playing volleyball with some friends when she arrived with a guy I'd never seen before. With one arm, he carried a cooler and beach towel. His other arm held her bikinied waist tightly against him. He seemed composed entirely of muscle and jawbone. I despised him intensely, but I hated her more.It's been said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. For one final moment, our eyes locked together. Mine continued to burn with devotion and enmity. But Julia's eyes looked back at mine with neither pity nor pique, just something close to absolute disregard. In that horrible instant, I had my first hope that one day I could join her there.With the exception of antidepressants, which have been shown in clinical trials to reduce severe heartbreak symptoms in some patients, modern researchers concede that they've added nothing revolutionary to the cumulative wisdom of the ages. What has begun to emerge from the lab, however, is a better understanding of which age-old strategies really do work best -- and why.Take, for example, a tactic that's been around for millennia but was recently codified in self-help manuals as the "no contact" rule. The idea is simple enough: Have absolutely nothing to do with your erstwhile lover. To many a heartbroken guy, such advice makes plenty of sense, at least in moments of rationality. But then emotions take over, urging the exact opposite course. So which should we listen to, the brain or the heart?The brain, says Fisher, without hesitation. "You need to treat heartbreak like the addiction it is," she explains. "This means no interaction, no calls, no letters, no checking up on their Facebook page, no going to the gym where she's likely to be."Resist, too, an ex's offer to remain friendly. "If the person who dumped you wants to remain friends," says Fisher, "tell her fine -- in 3 years. For now, you need time and space to get over her."Whether your own healing interlude requires 3 years or 3 weeks, exile more than just the woman from your life. Eliminate all of her cards, gifts, phone messages, and belongings -- in short, any reminders that she once shared your life. "Otherwise," says Fisher, "it's like trying to quit drinking while lining up bottles in front of your face."And speaking of booze, drinking to obliterate the memory of a lost love is a classic coping strategy employed by men. Trouble is, it simply doesn't work. In fact, as most anyone who's cried in his beer knows, it usually makes matters worse. For one thing, alcohol is a depressive drug. So if you're already sad to start with, you're just going to descend into an even deeper melancholy.As a 2008 study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence noted, comparatively small doses of alcohol have also been shown to increase impulsive, aggressive, and socially inappropriate behaviors by disabling the brain systems that normally hold these behaviors in check. Moreover, alcohol is particularly effective at eroding good intentions when, as the authors put it, "the inhibition of a response is in conflict with a strong instigation to display the response." Translation: When you're heartbroken but sober, you think, I want to call her so much, but I know this will only end up making me feel worse. Two beers later, you think, Where's the phone?Exercise is an all-around safer and more effective heartbreak balm. As I mentioned earlier, romantic rejection floods our brains with stress hormones such as norepinephrine, priming us for fight or flight. It probably also slashes serotonin, Fisher says, inviting both depression and obsessive thoughts to lay siege in our brains. Exercise, however, sops up stress -- possibly by elevating serotonin -- and adds a bonus dose of feel-good endorphins in the process.Working out with good friends, Fisher adds, likely bolsters other brain hormones laid low by rejection. These include oxytocin as well as vasopressin, both of which solidify social ties and provide a comforting sense of connectedness to others. In small but significant ways, the void created by your beloved's exit slowly fills with new relationships.One relationship many guys believe will help them most is with a new sex partner. How legitimately helpful this is remains quite controversial. "For men," says Buss, "my speculation is that the best cure for heartbreak is indeed a new love. Or, if that's not possible, sometimes new sex will do in the meantime."Other researchers, however, have their doubts, especially during the protest stage when you feel such a deep attachment to the one who's spurned you. "If you're still madly in love," says Fisher, "nobody else looks good to you."I do not mean to give a false sense of heartbreak's trajectory here. As most sufferers learn firsthand, you can adhere to all the proven strategies in the world and yet still go for weeks or months without the slightest sense of forward progress. Then one day, abetted by the slow drip of time and the steadfastness of your friends, you notice you've managed a whole minute of thought that doesn't center on your former beloved. At the instant of this realization, of course, your suffering resumes full-blown, worse than before. More time passes, and more wise counsel.Then, at some indefinite point much later, you find that you've passed an hour free of your ghost. Your weight loss levels off. The scale reveals you've even gained back a fractional pound of the 20 you've shed. You glimpse your face in a mirror, feel a tad less stupefied by the ugliness you see.Once again, the respite doesn't last long. Something will remind you of her. In this regard, the world remains a minefield for a very long time. Even when you can go a whole week without her cohabitating in your skull, you're not safe. Perhaps, like me, you'll cross paths with her, despite all your best efforts at absolutely no contact. Maybe she is with another guy, and maybe the two of them look smitten. You thought you were finally getting over her, and now you see you're not even close.But you are getting closer. The pain may feel indistinguishable from before, but something's changed. A scab torn off reveals new callus. The wound still hurts, but it's no longer fresh nor quite so deep.And so it goes, the spinning lathe that slows so gradually you cannot discern the moment it's stopped.Go on to the next page for more on how to cope with heartbreak...At the end of Friday's 5,000-yard swim practice, I climb into the hot tub to relax with my teammates. I'm adjusting a bag of ice on my shoulder when a woman I've never seen before today steps out of the pool and approaches us. Through the cathedral windows, the setting sun silhouettes her lithe physique in orange light. For the first time in ages, my heart speeds up at the sight of a female body.She's absolutely beautiful: curvaceous but sleekly muscular, hazel eyes, long, lustrous brown hair, full lips. I'm sure I've seen hundreds of objectively beautiful women in the year and a half since Julia's rejection. But this is the first one who has stirred me. I first noticed her while swimming today's practice -- and, in fact, crashed into the wall while ogling her under water. This is the reason for the ice on my shoulder."Hi," she says to us all. As she slips into the Jacuzzi, her thigh brushes my knee, and I wonder if I'll need to move my bag of ice. "I'm Jenny," she says. "I usually swim with the morning group."My buddies immediately fall over themselves to impress her. I've all but forgotten how to flirt, so I just say hi and try to enjoy the banter.A guy named Mike points out that morning practice starts at 5 a.m. "How can you stand to get up that early just to go swimming in the dark?" he asks Jenny.She smiles and shrugs girlishly. "I admit," she says, looking at the sunset, "the view is more enjoyable this time of day.""You should come in the evening more often," I say, glancing toward her. "Give us a view to enjoy."Corny as it is, my compliment actually makes her blush. Months later, when we are lying in bed together and I am happier than I can ever remember being, Jenny tells me it was this compliment that lit the spark for her.During the worst of my heartbreak, I was convinced I'd never again be anything but damaged goods. I didn't see it at the time -- perhaps we're constructed so we can't see it -- but a broken heart becomes annealed through its loss. When we finally do emerge able to move on, we find ourselves wiser, blessed with more empathy, and unblinded to the power love holds in our lives. We are built to love and to love again, says Helen Fisher, words that resonate with my own experience.I know now that nothing will chase all traces of Julia from my heart. But with a new love, I do not mind. I'm grateful, in fact, and I only hope she has forgiven me as I have finally forgiven her.How love can mess with your headSure you loved her with all your heart, but your brain played a big role, too. When you're in love, your brain's ventral tegmental area churns out dopamine, the hormone that teaches junkies to crave crack. From there, dopamine travels to your prefrontal cortex and cingulate cortex, where it joins its cousin chemical, norepinephrine, to create a "lover's high." Couple this hit with the warm feelings created when your hypothalamus secretes oxytocin and vasopressin, and you have the recipe for a full-blown addiction. That's why you're in trouble if your drug ever decides to pack her bags and walk out the door.Mend your friendThe best (and worst) you can do for a heartbroken buddyThe strategy: Gamble his grief awayThe verdict: Skip itSad people are willing to spend almost four times more money than those who aren't blue, according to a 2008 study in Psychological Science. And that's dangerous for your friend. UCLA research found that if a man feels like he's out of control, it'll take him longer to recover from heartbreak. Go ahead, plan a guy trip that'll put some physical distance between him and her -- just choose an outing that won't tempt him to empty his wallet.The strategy: Surround him with womenThe verdict: Do itGuys who've been dumped worry that they'll have a hard time finding another partner, according to a 2008 study in the journal Evolutionary Psychology. "The more options he has, the better he'll feel about his future prospects," says Carin Perilloux, Ph.D.(c), a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. Take him where the women are, like parties where the men are seriously outnumbered.The strategy: Give him a shoulder to cry onThe verdict: Skip itWhen people relive the sadness of a breakup, they tend to stay stuck in a rut of negative emotion, say researchers from Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley. So if he starts to wallow in weepy mode, remind him of all the times she pissed him off -- a 2006 study published in the journal Emotion shows that heartbroken people move on faster when they're angry at their exes.The strategy: Distract him with exerciseThe verdict: Do itJoin a gym together, sign up for a basketball league, or begin training for a 10-K. Whatever you choose, he'll have something to look forward to in his downtime -- downtime he used to spend with his ex. Regular exercise will also cause his brain to pump out more mood-boosting chemicals. Bonus: "Working out will make him feel more attractive to women," says Perilloux.Should you take her back?What to do when your old flame flares up againShe didn't just break your heart -- she put it through the meat grinder. And now? She claims she made a big mistake. Before you risk having your emotions butchered all over again, ask yourself these critical questions.What do I miss about her? "Often, people will name their partner's small, strange quirks as the things they miss most," says Ty Tashiro, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Colorado. "But those mundane details indicate that they miss familiarity and comfort the most, not the specific person."Why did we break up? If the problem was a clash of personalities, tell her you're better off apart. "Traits like extroversion or being high-strung or neurotic almost never change," says Tashiro. And that goes for your next relationship, too: Watch for a pattern of initially exciting but ultimately doomed mismatches.How much have I been sleeping? Insomnia is a major side effect of heartbreak, and it can impair your ability to view her objectively. "The less you sleep, the less control you have over your emotions," says David Sbarra, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. Consider seeing a psychologist who uses cognitive behavioral therapy, a multi-pronged approach that can help solve your sleep problems.
"As mysterious as love may be, the agony of its loss is an even more baffling experience, driving many men to depths of despair they never knew existed."
Denmark is the happiest country in the world, followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to the 2013 World Happiness Report, released today by Columbia University's Earth Institute.Sponsored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the global survey took place between 2010 and 2012 and ranked the happiness levels of people in 156 countries, using such criteria as wealth, health, freedom to make life choices, having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom from corruption, and the generosity of fellow citizens.The U.S. came in 17th overall in the happiness stakes, just behind Mexico, while Britain finished in 22nd place, Russia in 68th, China a gloomy 93rd, and Iraq 105th. War-torn Syria came in an unsurprising 148th place, while a handful of West African countries seemed to be unhappier still, with Benin at 155th and neighboring Togo bringing up the rear at 156th..(See "Photo Gallery: Happiness Hotspots.")According to the UN report, there are some common themes in the happiest places on Earth, including:1. It (mostly) pays to be rich.This may be the obvious one. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure doesn't hurt, as even the most cursory glance down the list of the world's happiest countries reveals. They are all expensive places to live.They also have high taxes, spend a lot of money on social welfare programs, and enjoy good health care. There are no wars in these places. Or malaria. And very little corruption.2. More money means more problems.On the other hand, warns Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia's Earth Institute and one of the authors of the report, riches can cause stresses and problems of their own. In his introduction to the report, Sachs cites the "persistent creation of new material 'wants' through the incessant advertising of products using powerful imagery and other means of persuasion."Sachs warns that an advertising industry worth around $500 billion per year is "preying on psychological weaknesses and unconscious urges," and therefore making us less happy. Unhealthy products like cigarettes, sugar, and trans-fats are being pushed to our detriment, he wrote.Such stresses and disillusionment may account for why the overall happiness figures for the (otherwise happy) industrialized West have been declining, while countries in developing regions, especially in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, have been becoming happier overall, Sachs noted. Of the three biggest gainers in overall happiness, two (Angola at 61st and Zimbabwe at 103rd) were in Africa. Albania (at 62nd) is the third.3. Being poor in Europe can be particularly rough.Bulgaria may be a member of the European Union, but it is by far its poorest member and is burdened by endemic corruption. A recent poll showed that as much as 5 percent of the population is planning to leave their homeland and emigrate, mainly to the U.K. and Germany.Bulgaria's unhappiness quotient, as measured by the survey, puts the country in a deeply unhappy 144th place—behind Afghanistan (143rd), Yemen (142nd), and Iraq (105th). Even Zimbabweans, whose country has endured an average inflation rate of nearly 1,200 percent for the past decade, seem considerably more contented than Bulgarians, coming in at 103rd on the list.4. Nice weather doesn't correlate to happiness.Forget palm trees and crystalline beaches, azure seas, and thoughts of plump mangoes falling into your lap—such things may be okay for holiday dreaming, but lovely weather doesn't seem to cut it when it comes to making us happy on a day-to-day basis.With the lone exception of Australia (coming in at number 10), all of the world's top-ten happiest countries have long, bleak winters. Iceland, which edges out Australia at number 9 on the list, barely sees the sun at all. In contrast, Mauritius, a favorite honeymoon and holiday destination for the happy folk of northern Europe, is at 67th on the happy list, and Jamaica in the sunny Caribbean languishes in 75th place.5. Happy people ride bicycles—by choice.Denmark and the Netherlands (the happiest and the fourth-happiest countries on Earth) are renowned for being the world's most bicycle-friendly nations; the other most-happy countries are also famously bicycle friendly. To be sure, much of the developing world gets about by bicycle, as does economic powerhouse China, but not, it seems, because they want to."I'd rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle," a 20-year-old female contestant on a Chinese game show remarked in 2010. She isn't alone in that. The Chinese as a nation may not be wildly happy with their lot in life—they finished a lowly 93rd on the World Happiness Report—but sales of BMWs there are booming, with the company's profits up 52 percent for the first half of 2013.
"Some surprising factors that influence well-being around the world, including wealth, weather ... and bicycles?"
Love these looks! ~ V.B.
For the past year and change, the American conversation about women and leadership has revolved around challenges of work-life balance — which most of the time actually means "work-family balance."The women we're hearing from — Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sheryl Sandberg, and the rest — aren't jetting out of the office at 5:30 to train for a marathon or learn Chinese or even just binge-watch Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. They're leaving "early" to take care of their children. And so we talk about having it all, leaning in, or opting out — and we talk about women who don't make it to the very top of their companies, still, as if it's a personal choice.The truth is — as many have pointed out — that lots of ambitious people, male and female, make personal choices that take them off the path of leadership. It's also true that women are often gently but firmly nudged off this path more frequently than men, when work and family invariably clash. And that is a problem. Not just for the women, but for the companies missing out on the benefits of diversity and the economy that's not playing with a full talent deck.But while that is a major obstacle to getting more women into senior roles, it's far from the only — or even the most important one. Yesterday, I interviewed HBR Editor Amy Bernstein about our current issue, which spotlights women in leadership. We agreed that it's time to shift our focus away from issues of work and life, and personal career decisions about "sitting at the table" or "leaving before you leave," to look at some of the institutional barriers that women still face. One of these challenges is what Herminia Ibarra, Robin Ely, and Deborah Kolb call "second-generation gender bias." The basic idea: we become leaders iteratively, by taking increasingly challenging roles, learning, and then having our performance affirmed by those around us. For women, this process is often interrupted for a simple reason: when women display leadership behaviors we consider normative in men, we see them as unfeminine. When women act more feminine, we don't see them as leaders.A previous McKinsey study also identified another barrier: women aren't given as many high-profile, big budget, or international assignments as their male peers. These are the developmental projects that put talented women on the path to the C-Suite.Work from Catalyst identified another challenge: women aren't sponsored by higher-ups to the same degree that men are, although women do tend to have lots of mentoring relationships. This translates to women receiving lots of well-meant advice, but not a lot of growth roles.(The depressing list goes on. My colleagues at HBR have pulled together some of the latest research on these and other barriers, along with a curated reading list from HBR's deep archive on this issue.)It would be disingenuous to say that none of these challenges are related to the joys and burdens of parenting, which still disproportionately fall to women. But increasingly, men share in those joys and burdens too. And the women we're talking about — ambitious mid- to senior-level executives with their eye on the C-Suite — can afford to mitigate a lot of those burdens. So I think it's also disingenuous to portray — as so much of the popular press does — the lack of women at senior levels as evidence of some personal choice on their part.At the same time, it's not exactly that there's a glass ceiling (or a glass cliff, or a maternal wall): the days of blatant discrimination are (mostly) behind us. Today, it's more like a glass obstacle course of a hundred hard-to-see hurdles.No wonder so many women seeking leadership roles suffer from bruised shins. No wonder so many of them never make it to the other side.And yet, as Bernstein was quick to point out, when I asked her if it was depressing that we're still, in 2013, talking about this:But we can deal with it. We can address it. Nissan addresses it, Avon addresses it, Merck addresses it. Big companies that don't turn easily address it, and they make a difference, and they have seen results. So yes, [gender bias] is bad, and no one want to have to talk about it, but given that it's still out there, isn't it wonderful that we can figure out how to deal with it, how to address it, and how to overcome it. And then we can go on to the next thing.Here's to overcoming it.
"The reasons women don't reach the top go beyond having it all and leaning in." Click on the title or image above to view original post. ~ V.B.
1. Make time for family and friends. This is especially important for those who don’t spend much time with their loved ones during the week.2. Exercise. Everyone needs to do it, and if you can’t work out 4 to 5 days during the workweek, you need to be active on weekends to make up for some of that time, Vanderkam says. It’s the perfect opportunity to clear your mind and create fresh ideas.“I know an owner of a PR firm who takes walks in the park with his dog to spark ideas about how to pitch a new client, or what angle to take with the press for a story,” Kurow says.Cohen suggests spin classes and outdoor cycling in the warmer months. “Both are energizing and can be organized among people with shared interests. For example, it is not uncommon for hedge fund folks and Wall Street professionals to ride together on weekends. It is a great way to establish and cultivate relationships based on membership in this elite professional community.”3. Pursue a passion. “There’s a creative director of a greeting card company who went back to school to pursue an MFA because of her love of art,” Kurow says. “Pursuing this passion turned into a love of poetry that she now writes on weekends.”“Successful people make time for what is important or fun,” Egan adds. “They make space for activities that add to their life balance.”4. Vacation. Getting away for the weekend provides a great respite from the grind of an intense week at work, Cohen says.5. Disconnect. The most successful people avoid e-mail for a period of time, Vanderkam says. “I’m not saying the whole weekend, but even just a walk without the phone can feel liberating. I advocate taking a ‘tech Sabbath.’ If you don’t have a specific religious obligation of no-work time, taking Saturday night to mid-day Sunday off is a nice, ecumenical time that works for many people.”6. Volunteer. “I know a commercial real estate broker who volunteers to help with cook-off events whose proceeds are donated to the Food Bank,” Kurow says. “The volunteer work provides a balance to the heavy analytical work she does all week and fulfills her need to be creative — she designs the promotional material for the non-profit.”Cohen says a lot of successful people participate in fundraising events. “This is a great way to network and to meet others with similar interests,” he says. “The visibility also helps in branding a successful person as philanthropic.”7. Avoid chores. Every weekend has a few have-to-dos, but you want these to take the minimum amount of time possible, Vanderkam explains. Create a small window for chores and errands, and then banish them from your mind the rest of the time.8. Plan. “Planning makes people more effective, and doing it before the week starts means you can hit Monday ready to go, and means you’ll give clear directions to the people who work for you, so they will be ready to go, too,” Vanderkam says.Trunk agrees. She says successful people plan their month and year because “if you get stuck on short-term lists you don’t get anything big accomplished.”9. Socialize. “Humans are social creatures, and studies of people’s experienced happiness through the day finds that socializing ranks right up there, not too far down below sex,” Vanderkam says.Go out with friends and family, or get involved in the local community.“It has been demonstrated that successful people find great satisfaction in giving back,” Cohen says. “Board membership, for example, also offers access to other successful folks.”10. Gardening/crafts/games/sports/cooking/cultural activities. This is especially important for those cooped up in an office all week.“For the pure joy, some folks find great satisfaction in creating beautiful gardens,” Cohen says.Kurow knows an attorney who uses her weekends to garden and do mosaics and tile work to satisfy her creative side. “Filling her life this way enables her to be refreshed on Monday and ready to tackle the litigation and trial prep work. Artwork for her is fulfilling in a way that feeds her soul and her need to connect with her spiritual side.”Bridge lessons and groups can also sharpen the mind and often create relationships among highly competitive smart professionals, Cohen says. “I once saw a printout of a bridge club’s membership list; its members were a who’s who of Wall Street.”Theatre, opera and sporting events can also enrich one’s spirit, he adds.11. Network. “Networking isn’t an event for a successful person, it’s a lifestyle,” Trunk says. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they manage to connect with new people.12. Reflect. Egan says truly successful people make time on weekends to appreciate what they have and reflect on their happiness and accomplishments. As Rascoff said, “weekends are a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues.”13. Meditate. Classes and private instruction offer a bespoke approach to insight and peace of mind, Cohen says. “How better to equip yourself for success in this very tough world?”14. Recharge. We live in a competitive world, Vanderkam says. “Peak performance requires managing downtime, too–with the goal of really recharging your batteries.” That’s how the most successful people get so much done.Successful people know that time is too precious to be totally leisurely about leisure, Vanderkam concludes. “You’re not going to waste that time by failing to think about what you’d like to do with it, and thus losing the weekend to TV, puttering, inefficient e-mail checking, and chores. If you don’t have a busy workweek, your weekend doesn’t matter so much. But if you’re going from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, it certainly does.”