Category: Enhancing joy

  • Smile – and feel better

    Try holding a pencil between your teeth, in such a way that the pencil doesn’t touch your lips. This forces your face into something that looks like a smile. Years ago, experimenters found that people holding a pencil in this way rated cartoons as funnier than they did without the pencil. The conclusion was that […]

  • Humour as a Re-visioning Strategy

    One of the ways that people make us laugh is through observations that highlight the absurdity of a situation. Example: I want to be unique and different, just like everybody else. Humour approaches a subject from an unexpected angle; it’s a form of lateral thinking. As such, I’ve found that it can be a powerful […]

  • The Benefits of Not Complaining

    The average day provides a myriad of blessings to be grateful for, along with multiple niggles and challenges – all of which are opportunities to complain, if that is our focus. People who constantly complain are hard to be around and don’t attract warmth from others. The sad thing is that their focus on the […]

  • Can you have too much happiness?

    George Bernard Shaw wrote: “a lifetime of happiness! No man could bear it: it would be hell on earth.” In contrast, the Dalai Lama said the purpose of life is to be happy. Who is right? I believe both are correct, but they are talking about different kinds of happiness. The simplest kind of happiness is […]

  • The role of goodwill in communication

    Some people seem to have no trouble making new acquaintances, whereas others find it difficult to navigate ‘small talk’ and getting to know people. Research has shown that people who have more social connections are happier than those with few, and people with a habit of chatting to strangers tend to attract more positive opportunities […]

  • Is Happiness a Choice?

    Decades ago, researchers discovered that individuals appear to have a ‘set point’ of happiness. For example, if someone scores 6 out of 10 for happiness, that score may slightly increase or decrease according to life’s ups and downs, but they’re likely to keep returning to a 6 over their lifetime. A year after a big […]

  • Crazy Happy: A film

    Crazy Happy is a documentary filmed in Whangarei, following a group of people with mental health issues as they participate in a 100-day project to promote happiness. At the beginning of the project most of the participants suffered from depression, some to a debilitating degree. The idea was quite simple: each day the participants had […]

  • When the good go bad…

    How is it that so much harm is caused in the name of religion? How can people who do dreadful things look themselves in the mirror and think they are right? I believe it has something to do with language. Not just the way we use words to justify what we do, but the very […]

  • The shortcomings of rational thinking

    I was brought up to believe that ‘rational’ thinking was the best, if not the only, way to get to the truth. Later I came to see that rational thought cannot, by itself, bring new knowledge; it can only confirm what you already thought you knew. This is because you cannot begin reasoning without taking […]

  • Dirt and beauty

    In 1974 Saudi Arabia was a fabulously rich country, yet its streets were piled high with rubbish. There was no garbage disposal system other than the goats that roamed the streets. The reason? “No self-respecting Saudi would ever collect trash.”[i] Being too proud to deal with their garbage meant that effectively the Saudis were left […]