behavior · brain · creativity · disease · happiness · mental health · Nature · play · psychology

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – The Buffer Blog

I think I’ve talked about ALL of these tips individually on the blog before, so I’m thrilled that somebody combined them into a “Top 10 With Science!” post:


Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it. It’s also no surprise that it’s the Nr.1 value for Buffer’s culture, if you see our slidedeck about it. So naturally we are obsessed with it.

I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.

1. Exercise More (7 minutes might be enough)

2. Sleep More

read all 10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science – The Buffer Blog.

I particularly like suggestion #5.

anthropology · community · culture · happiness · Social

The Happiest States In America In One Map (INFOGRAPHIC)

Where you live apparently can influence your happiness – or maybe happy people just tend head west?

Which way to happy? Geographically speaking, it’s the route to Hawaii, Maine or one of the clusters of blissful cities in California and Colorado.

The map below is based on results from a study of geotagged tweets published earlier this year in PLoS ONE by researchers at the University of Vermont. The team scored more than 10,000 words on a positive-negative scale and measured their frequency in millions of tweets across the country, deliberately ignoring context to eliminate experimental bias. What emerged was significant regional variation in happiness by this calculation, which correlates with other lifestyle measures such as gun violence, obesity and Gallup‘s traditional wellbeing survey. A sadness belt across the South includes states that have high levels of poverty and the shortest life expectancies.

Huffington Post, Happy, United States Map

more via The Happiest States In America In One Map (INFOGRAPHIC).

behavior · mental health · work

The Surefire Way To Be Happier At Work: Chat With Your Coworkers | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

Stock photo of ridiculously happy coworkers. Mine don’t usually wear ties to the office, but they do usually look this happy (ok, only sometimes).

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about making happy, playful spaces. But in the end the most important thing to making a space playful and happy is the people that fill that space.

According to a new study by Alex Bryson and George MacKerron, published through the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science, of all the things we choose to do at work (other than work!), it’s casually interacting with our colleagues that makes us happiest. From the study:
The largest positive net effect of combining work and another activity on happiness relates to ‘Talking, chatting, socialising’. . . . There are clearly positive psychological benefits of being able to socialise whilst working. It is the only activity that, in combination with working, results in happiness levels that are similar to those experienced when not working.

more via The Surefire Way To Be Happier At Work: Chat With Your Coworkers | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Now, according to this same study they found the strongest correlation between reducing stress and working was watching videos (film, TV), which indicates to me the study may not be the most robust, but to be fair other studies have found a strong correlation between watching cute things and destressing and an increase in the ability to concentrate, so if these study participants were watching cute puppies and kittens then that makes perfect sense.

I certainly know that having good coworkers makes a huge difference in how much I enjoy my work (and lucky for me I’ve got great coworkers!)

What do you think? Does your personal work happiness depend on your coworkers? Share your work stories in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · happiness · health

Americans’ happiness score –

Life is good.
Americans are in the top 10 for happy nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re a lot happier as a nation than I was otherwise led to believe. Um, go us?

We’re No. 6! That’s according to new data from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development , which on Tuesday released results of a survey measuring quality of life in 36 industrialized nations.

For the last three years, the Paris-based outfit has weighed 11 criteria, including housing, income, jobs, environment, safety and work-life balance. For the third year in a row, Australia was the big winner, thanks in large part to an economy that managed to avoid the global recession of the last decade.

The U.S. hobbled across the finish line in sixth place, behind Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland, which ranked second through fifth, respectively.

more via Daum: Americans’ happiness score –

But seriously (ha ha), I feel like happiness scoring, as subjective as it is, is a good way of measuring our overall health and well being. It also indicates we’re doing okay and getting time in our lives for all the important stuff like family and time to recreate. I like Bhutan’s use of grass national happiness as a major marker for the nation’s well-being (lovely country, BTW, just be prepared for an exciting landing).

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · health · mental health

OpenIDEO – How might we create healthy communities within and beyond the workplace?

Digicorp workplace
OpenIDEO asks how do we promote wellness in the workplace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow, OpenIDEO is on a role lately with their challenges that get my creative juices rolling and my passions up, in a good way! This latest challenge is about wellness in the workplace:

Together with Bupa and the International Diabetes Federation, we’re asking our global community to help us explore how people can best be supported in the workplace to make positive changes to their health and wellness – and what skills and tools are needed to pass these positive changes onto their networks of co-workers, family and friends.

via OpenIDEO – How might we create healthy communities within and beyond the workplace?.

As the Chair of the Wellness Committee at my job for just under a year, we tried out a lot of different wellness incentives, some with better results than others. I feel very passionately about offices promoting and encouraging wellness; we spend the majority of our waking lives there, it’s cheaper in the long run for companies to have healthy and happy workers, and it promotes productivity and dedication from employees.

What are your ideas? Add them to the inspiration. I’ll have to share some of my ideas for this challenge on the blog, as well as my ideas from the previous OpenIDEO challenge I mentioned, which is currently in the concepting phase.

architecture · design · environment · happiness · health · technology

A happy view, thanks to your window glass

English: A 100 watt "black light" ul...
Get some healthy UV light thanks to newly designed window coatings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Co.Design:

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research in Germany have invented a new type of window that is conceived to improve concentration, regulate sleep, and even make you happier. The so-called “feel-good glass” has a special .1-micrometer-thick inorganic coating that is optimized to transmit wavelengths between 450 and 500 nanometers, where the effects of blue light are most pronounced. Blue light is the part of the spectrum which promotes the balance of biorhythm-moderating hormones (and which traditional glass largely blocks). “The coating we’ve developed helps people to feel they can perform better and makes it less likely they will fall ill,” Dr. Jörn Probst says.

Of course, you could soak up plenty of mood-enhancing light just by stepping outside. But given that Americans spend as much as 90% of their lives indoors, it makes perfect sense to welcome the healthiest aspects of the outdoors inside. The effects can even be felt in spaces criminally low on natural light, the researchers say; as long as there is at least one small window, blue light can creep in.

The patent-pending Uniglas | Vital feel-good glass isn’t on the market yet, and still requires some tinkering. Says researcher Walther Glaubitt: “Up to now we’ve only applied our special coating to the side of the glass facing into the cavity between panes. In future we will also be coating the glazing’s exposed surfaces–in other words, the outside and the inside of the window. That will allow us to achieve around 95 percent light transmissivity at 460 nanometers.”

[see also PSFK]

Neato! I feel happier already! Of course I’m always an advocate of the real thing, but I also work in an office all day and know just how powerful a little sunshine on my shoulder can be for my productivity (unless it’s a REALLY nice day outside and then I’m about as productive as a surgeon with two left hands. Thankfully I’m also left-handed).

But until this glass becomes commercially available, your best bet for better health really is step outside and get a few minutes of sun every day – even 20 minutes daily makes a huge difference.

anthropology · culture · emotion · happiness · health · Social

The UN Embraces the Economics of Happiness — YES! Magazine

Should happiness and well being be considered a metric to measure overall success of a country? The UN just voted yes:

Imagine you open the paper tomorrow, and the headlines are not about the “sluggish economy,” but our nation’s quality of life. You turn to the business section, and find not just information about a certain company’s profitability, but also about its impact on community health and employee well-being.

Imagine, in short, a world where the metric that guides our decisions is not money, but happiness.

That is the future that 650 political, academic, and civic leaders from around the world came together to promote on April 2, 2012. Encouraged by the government of Bhutan, the United Nations held a High Level Meeting for Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. The meeting marks the launch of a global movement to shift our focus away from measuring and promoting economic growth as a goal in its own right, and toward the goal of measuring—and increasing—human happiness and quality of life.

Not just for dreamers

Some may say these 650 world leaders are dreamers, but they are the sort that can make dreams come true. The meeting began with an address by Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley of Bhutan, where the government tracks the nation’s “Gross National Happiness.”…

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited Aristotle and Buddha in calling for the replacement of our current economic system with one based on happiness, well-being, and compassion. “Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible” he said.

Read more at: The UN Embraces the Economics of Happiness by Laura Musikanski — YES! Magazine.

Pretty exciting stuff. Bhutan has been using happiness as a metric for several years. so it’s nice to see the idea get picked up on. I believe emotional well-being and happiness is a very valuable metric. What about you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

anthropology · community · environment · happiness · health · mental health · Social

Can cities promote happiness?

Ann Arbor as seen from the University of Michi...
Can humans be happy in cities? Ann Arbor as seen from the University of Michigan Stadium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A nice article from The Atlantic about how urban designers can do things to make living in the city a truly happier place to live:

I’ve been looking at some research reports, and confirming that some of the qualities associated with great urbanism – good public transit; easy access to cultural activities, recreation and shops; connectedness – are associated positively with human happiness. I first reported on a study reaching just those conclusions back in early February. Others found the study as well, concluding that residents of “beautiful, well-designed cities” are happier than those living in suburbs.

I’ve been following this topic for some time, because I believe that factors we generally think of as “subjective” can be every bit as important to fostering great, sustainable places as those that we can measure objectively. Of course, researchers being researchers, we try to measure them anyway (Seattle’s city council president on that city’s Happiness Initiative: “Measuring the subjective happiness or well-being levels of Seattle residents is an important tool”), and I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone came up with a ranking. Indeed, earlier this year The Daily Beast measured a number of factors they believed make people happy, concluding in a widely-publicized story that residents of Washington, D.C., were the happiest in America, followed by residents of Boulder, San Francisco, San Jose, and Ann Arbor.

[Some research] points out, however, that other research contradicts those conclusions, or at least muddies them significantly.

Still another study – this one involving a bit of self-selection, since its data were generated by use of an iPhone app – finds that none of the above is true, since nature is what really produces a good mood.

There are definitely positive elements to living the city: more social contact with others, social and cultural events, potential access to a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, and more. There is also the flip side to all of those positives.

Read the entire article, and write back with your own opinion: do you believe that people can be happier in the city?

behavior · creativity · emotion · happiness · psychology

Surefire way to make yourself smile

Feeling a little down after the festive weekend with possibly WAY too many chocolate bunnies? There is a cure for that. But don’t take my word for it, ask Canadian artist Alison Ann:

I was a bit sad that my vacation was over until I remembered this little gem of a project that I did on a cool January eve.

The goal here was to draw 100 smiley faces in an act of self cheering.
It totally works.
Here is my sample, and I encourage you to do the same.
If you do do the same you should share it with others too.. or share it with me!!!
Or share on this blog! 🙂

Happy Monday!


anthropology · behavior · community · environment · happiness · Nature · psychology · technology

Mappiness: Mapping Happiness

A shot of the app.

From the blog How Do you Landscape; a group from the UK has created an app that can be used to measure our happiness based on our surroundings, and using maps to look at the data:

“People feel better outside than inside”. “People feel better in the park/woods/nature than in the city”. These are some of the conclusions from a project with the telling title ‘Mappiness’ Good news for landscape and Landscape Architecture on first sight. But are these only one-liners or firmly based scientific statements? Well, that depends on the quality of the empirical evidence of course. Most experience sample methods (ESM) have a hard time getting a representative group (in the end almost only colleagues) that has to struggle trough tedious interview forms (“it will take only twenty minutes”) to step-by-step end up with modest results. How about a sample group of 47.331 people (and growing by the day) who willingly support their data three times a day to the researchers that by now collected over three million forms in a few months? I stumbled upon these remarkable Experience research feats in a TedxBrighton 2011. In this “Twenty minutes lectureGeorge MacKerron explains why and how he and Susana Mourato (both from the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science) created ‘mappiness’. They want to better understand how people’s feelings are affected by features of their current environment. Things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces influence your well being is their hypothesis.

This is how it works. They developed an app that can be downloaded for free. It must be one of the most irritating apps around on the web because it rings you (with your approval, you can influence the settings) three times a day to ask you three simple questions.

When put through a big regression model they can gauge the happiness as the function of habitat type, activity, companionship, weather conditions (there is of course a link between meteorological data and the GPS data), daylight conditions, location type (in, out, home, work, etc), ambient noise level, time of the day, response speed, and individual ‘fixed-effects’ (that come out of your personal Mappiness-history). Factors can be plotted out against each other.

How awesome is that? What a neat piece of technology to measure our surroundings and how they influence us!