2 interesting happiness articles to read this weekend

2 interesting happiness articles to read this weekend

In a cross between literature, philosophy and psychology, The Sydney Morning Herald published this interesting story from one of Australia's (and the world's) great writers, David Malouf. 

Titled "Why is it so hard to find happiness?" it begins…

Ask any one of your friends or neighbours if they are happy and the answer they will probably give is that they have nothing to complain of.

What they mean is that the good life as previous generations might have conceived it has been attained. Medical science ensures that fewer children die in infancy, that most infectious diseases have been brought under control and the worst of them — smallpox, plague, TB, polio — have in most parts of the world been eliminated; that except for a few areas in Africa famine is no longer known among us; that in advanced societies like our own we are cared for by the state from cradle to grave.

We do complain, of course, but our complaints are trivial, mostly ritual. Our politicians lack vision, interest rates are too high, the pace of modern living is too hectic; the young have no sense of duty, family values are in decline. The good life, it seems, is not enough. We have nothing to complain of, we are "happy enough"; but we are not quite happy. We are still, somehow, unsatisfied, and this dissatisfaction, however vaguely conceived, is deeply felt.

If pressed, our friends or neighbours will probably tell us that what they are suffering from is "stress"; a sense, again vaguely conceived, that in the world about them, as they feel it and as it touches their lives, all is not well. They do not, in the end, feel secure or safe…

…to read the full and original story JUST CLICK HERE

On a slightly more practical note, The Guardian published "10 Steps to Happiness" which starts off with…

In future we shall all be able to find happiness. It will lurk, hopefully, deep in a Himalayan forest and seekers will have to drive for 20 minutes down a dirt track to reach it. At the end of it, the government of Bhutan – the Buddhist kingdom which has suffered a recent surge in suicides – envisages a Gross National Happiness centre where citizens can relearn the balance between the spiritual and the material.

Bhutan's considerably more powerful neighbour, China, is now muscling in on the act with a new "happiness index" to evaluate the work of local government officials in some provinces. Its impact will be watched, no doubt with interest, by David Cameron's government, which is planning its own assessment of the nation's spirits. Stress is the prompt for this official concern. Basic living conditions have improved immeasurably over the past 50 years, but our sense of wellbeing has not kept pace, partly because of a competitive, volatile jobs market with the longest working hours in Europe.

Economist John Maynard Keynes imagined a 15-hour week by the beginning of the 21st century, because he thought we'd no longer have to work long hours to meet our material needs. But our concept of what we need has continually expanded and the working week has got correspondingly longer.

"Work-life balance" is the elusive panacea, but the phrase is also a misleading one. The implication is that life is something that happens elsewhere while we're tied to our desks. In fact, achieving balance is less about an equitable division of hours and more about whether we are allocating enough time and resources to our own satisfaction.

Around 1,500 years ago St Benedict set out the framework for a complete life – a structured mix of physical labour, exercise and devotions. Its rigours and piety would not appeal to modern secularists, but the recognition that routines should nourish our mental and physical wellbeing as well as harnessing our productivity is still a valuable one.

Experts agree that the first step to creating a balanced life is to assess what we need and want from our whole existence, not just work or home in isolation. Sometimes it's a change in perception that is required, rather than a change in circumstances, and work is not necessarily the enemy if it is managed correctly.

Anna Tims, the author, then goes on to list and describe the steps including assessing priorities, building boundaries, being realistic, getting flexible, saying no and…

…well, to read the full description of the 10 steps to happiness CLICK HERE