Posts Tagged "happiness"

7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Posted on Feb 13, 2014 | 0 comments

7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Slow emphasises connection between people. This can be pretty straight-forward and obvious in the context of verbal exchanges; for example being quiet long enough to hear what someone else has to say and really listen. But human beings establish connection with each other primarily non-verbally. ‘Free Hugs’, a social play activity where you offer hugs to strangers in the street is not only fun, but also amazingly instructive in how we connect with others. Not only that, hugging and laughter are wonderful tools for healing and overcoming loneliness, depression and stress. Our fast-paced modern life threatens such practices by encouraging disconnection. Slow seeks to address this. Here are 7 reasons why you should take part in Free Hugs: 1. Oxytocin Hugs 20 seconds or more spark release of the hormone oxytocin. Dubbed ‘the bonding hormone,’ oxytocin also lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and protects the heart. 2. Practice skills in non-verbal communication and forming connection It doesn’t take long participating in free hugs before you learn that even though the sign says ‘free hugs’, the invitation to join in a hug is largely non-verbal. It becomes a game seeing how to entice people into a hug just using your facial and body expressions. Psychologist and best-selling author of Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrikson, says that there are two preconditions to such micro-moments of connection: that people feel safe and that there is a real-time sensory connection. 3. Get used to discomfort One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself to help you embrace your dreams and lead a fuller life is to get used to doing things that initially make you feel discomfort. Hugging a stranger may not come naturally (it didn’t for me) but discomfort is a sign of potential to change. Embrace it (literally in this case). 4. Realise what a difference you make to others just by shifting your intention  Positive emotion is more contagious than negative emotions. Giving free hugs you really see how easy it is to change someone’s day, even if they take a bit of encouragement to get over an initial negative reaction to your invitation. Take this as a lesson for how to improve relationships at home and work; even when you are finding someone’s behaviour challenging, focussing on increasing positive emotion between you provides practical payoff in the form of less hassle, more allies and more job satisfaction. 5. Play Our ability to learn is enhanced when we are in play. Plus it’s fun, you get an endorphin rush and stress levels are lowered (your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged). 6. Empathy and understanding Empathy is ridiculously important to our personal relationships but also to the functioning of global society! Practice it and you will soon find yourself in amazement at how much more you see in people. In the brief exchanges you have with people during free hugs, stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas are swept away as you realise that there is more to everyone than meets the eye. Even those who turn down your hugs leave you feeling compassion for them because you know they are the ones who would benefit the most and you start to see them as a more whole human being. Hugging also builds trust, a sense of safety and open and honest communication – see how well hugging creates a healthy society? 7. Make someone else happy And you become happier too. Hugging raises serotonin levels. Sign up for The Slow Project Newsletter Email Address* First Name Last Name * = required...

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Why spreading yourself too thin is such a beguiling trap (thanks FOMO) and what to do about it

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Why spreading yourself too thin is such a beguiling trap (thanks FOMO) and what to do about it

As I make my own Slow transition, I have been reflecting on just how thin I had been spreading myself, the detrimental effects of this, why it occurs and how to correct it. Along the lines of my habit, intention and routine blog posts, I’ve had to face the fact that trying to do everything, no matter how awesome those things are, leads to only half doing everything. which is frustrating at best, and can be depressing. Carl Honore describes this as doing everything hurriedly and nothing well, a symptom of Fast culture. Slowing down in order to regain a sense of control1 and mastery2, both fundamentally important to health and happiness, was certainly one of my motivations for the project. Here is a saying that has stuck with me for years: “Happiness is simple, simplicity is difficult” Life is amazing and there’s so much cool stuff to do! Yes but spreading yourself too thin leads to half-finished tasks, multitasking (which is not actually multitasking it is dividing and losing your attention) hobbies you never master and stay stuck at the ‘beginner’ level, not being able to fully get in the moment with these activities, and grass is greener thinking which leads you to switching activities in case something else is better, and the cycle continues. Remember this: if you don’t have attention, you don’t have time3  How does this occur? We live in a hyper connected world where we are constantly presented with options and choices, and moreover we can see what other people are doing so much more than ever before. We are social creatures and are hardwired to compare ourselves to others which has a significant effect on our happiness. Consider this point from Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less; when you consider or are presented with more options you experience more buyer’s remorse and the outcome is less fulfilling. I’m pretty darn sure this transfers over to experiences not just material objects. Heard of FOMO before? That is the twitter-friendly acronym for ‘fear of missing out.’ FOMO has become quite a phenomenon in itself, noticeably aggravated by heightened awareness of how much is going on thanks to social media. But thanks to the acknowledgement of this as a phenomenon, a distinct backlash against it has been enabled. Check out this article on the Joy of Missing Out. This is the double-edged sword of the privilege; there is so much we could do, how do you content yourself with only a small fraction of the buffet? It doesn’t help that we live in a Fast-dominated culture where we are groomed to take on a ‘do everything’ mentality. What happened to down-time?! The value of rest and reflection has been somewhat forgotten along the way. What can we do about it?  Some people I know really seem to be able to take on a significantly larger number of things and thrive. So I’m not trying to say just do less full stop (Slow is about ‘just right’, not extremes), but in our Fast-dominated culture there is certainly a tendency to err to the side of too much. There is no magic formula determining how many hobbies you should have, how many times per week you should see your friends etc; it is up to you to be true to yourself, reflect (a lot, I’m realising) and make the changes, even if initially uncomfortable, that bring meaning and happiness to your life. Although there is truth in it, “learning to say no” is overly simplistic. Teasing out what are the things to devote time to...

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Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

Posted on Dec 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

As I mentioned in my post on how I got to Slow, one of my first big lessons that still echoes inside my head is the importance of being good to yourself in order to be of any use to the rest of the world. I have identified a number of ways in which the Slow movement can help a changemaker become more effective. I will present these in a series of posts. The lesson about taking care of yourself is so important that I have noted this to myself multiple times in various ways. This makes me think that it is likely a hard lesson to learn for many people driven to create change; their passion is a strength but also an Achilles heel. A burnt-out shell of a person is no good to anyone. I wonder if even changemakers who acknowledge the complexity of the problem situations they are working with still succumb to our fast culture’s need for immediacy. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time so make sure are armed with good physical and mental health. Slow & physical health Research shows that our model of work, work, work Monday to Friday then take a weekend or a few weeks holiday every year, is not ideal to help the body and mind rest and rejuvenate. We need short, consistent bursts of rest and relaxation and also honour our natural, longer rhythms by having deeper periods of rejuvenation on a weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual basis. We are no longer accustomed to letting ‘time heal all wounds.’ We want the quick fix to our ailments; in pill form, please. In one session we expect a manual therapist to fix our back we have spent years neglecting. Slow Medicine is emerging, which Carl Honore describes as ‘taking time to work out the root cause of ailments; learning what we can from the patient; taking a holistic approach to traditional forms of medicine; marrying medical treatment with wider changes in lifestyle; and treating the mind and body together.’ Slow & mental health Happiness is crucial to the effectiveness of a changemaker. Research shows that happiness drives performance far more than performance drives happiness. When you are optimistic and experiencing positive emotion your peripheral vision is wider so you are more likely to notice things, your brain is more creative (conversely, stress inhibits creativity) and resourceful and performance at intuitive problem solving improves. Dopamine increases which gives you motivation to take action. Lets look briefly at PERMA, the most recent framework for understanding happiness from the Grandfather of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. This framework offers five key ingredients for lasting happiness. P = position emotion. Human beings are hardwired to err to the negative (which is useful in avoiding risk but not great for our happiness). To experience greater levels of positive emotion, we may need to actively work against this tendency. This is a massive topic but one of the more fascinating findings is that mindfulness increases positive emotion more than daydreaming about the future, even when the activity you’re being present to is something you don’t like!! By being more present we are more able to take pleasure in the small stuff. Another relevant Slow idea is taking time for reflection and contemplative practices. By going within ourselves we decouple from the constant barrage of information from the outside world. This decoupling is an essential characteristic of a resilient organism. Take time daily to notice the great stuff that happened to you. A simple, effective and well-researched technique I do is write down 3 things I am...

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