Category: Social happiness

  • 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 […]

  • Trust and mistrust

    If someone doesn’t trust you, chances are it hurts your pride. But when it comes to trust, I think people often get offended by the wrong things. I believe it is up to all of us, all the time, to prove ourselves trustworthy. Other people should never be expected to trust us without our having […]

  • 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 […]

  • Comparisons

    Everything is relative. To answer a question like: “How happy are you with your life?” we cannot answer without comparing our situation with some point of reference. If that point of reference is how much poorer we were three years ago, or our unfortunate friend who has just had heart attack, or the plight of […]

  • Striving for perfection

    Humans strive for perfection in so many ways; we want the perfect house, body, partner. A mental picture of how something should or could be gives us something to work towards. Yet we all know that perfection is impossible. The word ‘perfect’ comes from Latin roots, meaning ‘completed’ or ‘finished’ (like the perfect tense). Perfection […]

  • Compassion and challenge

    For years I cultivated compassion, not wanting to become desensitised to the suffering in the world. At times I felt overwhelmed by all the suffering around me and wanted to alleviate it wherever possible. A couple of years ago I attended a seminar with Caroline Myss, a spiritual leader whose books I had been reading. […]

  • Power and humility

    In our daily lives there are people who have a certain amount of power over us (our employer, landlady, teacher) and people over whom we hold positions of relative power (our children, employees, students). To maximise social happiness, power must be used wisely and with humility. I remember one work situation where my boss started […]

  • Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

    We say that actions speak louder than words – and indeed they should. But in actual fact we have to be extremely vigilant in order to avoid simply accepting what we are told. Our human brains seem to be wired to process information quickly and efficiently by slotting it into pre-existing sets of beliefs. Something […]