Thursday, October 28, 2010

I received an e-mail advertising a talk entitled "Happiness At Work" by Jessica Pryce-Jones, a human asset management consultant. Now, I don't like consultants or their inflated titles, but, I'm willing to sit and listen especially when it concerns an area of my life for which I've lost my enthusiasm many years ago. In any case, I read through her biography, and it turns out she was one of the consultants on the BBC social experiment, Making Slough Happy.

In this experiment, six consultants worked together in an attempt to improve the level of happiness in a typical UK town, in this case, Slough. Apparently, at the time this was conducted, Slough residents scored 6.4 on the happiness index, way below the UK average, and slightly higher than former Soviet bloc countries. Hee.

Anyway, the aim of this was to implement a way of life so as to increase the happiness of 50 subjects from Slough, and those 50 were to go on and spread their happiness to others in a ripple effect.

It so happens that a friend of mine is from Slough, having grown up there and is still living there today. I mentioned this to him, and he barely remembers the programme, and said he definitely didn't feel any ripple effect. Just for the sheer heck of it, I read out the ten steps to happiness, and when I got to 8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once a day, he laughed and said, "You don't do that in Slough and remain unharmed," which I found quite amusing (as I think he was joking).

If you're curious, the ten steps to happiness are:
  1. Plant something and nurture it
  2. Count your blessings - at least five - at the end of each day
  3. Take time to talk - have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week
  4. Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up
  5. Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it
  6. Have a good laugh at least once a day
  7. Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week
  8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day
  9. Cut your TV viewing by half
  10. Spread some kindness - do a good turn for someone every day 
 I definitely don't follow any of these rules except for 6. I don't even do these on vacation! Man, even when I was a kid, I killed the hardiest plants on the planet, so I seriously doubt a normal garden-variety plant will survive, and what will that do to my happiness?!*

* I'm kidding, of course. But not about the hardy-plant-killing bit. 

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