As we enter our twelfth week of social distancing I thought I´d dish up a happy pill to keep our spirits up on a more meaningful longstanding level.
A year or so ago I attended a fascinating talk by British former accountant and HR executive, Vanessa King at ICADE on her 10 keys to happier living. Little did I realise that a year later her evidence-based advice would take on a greater significance as we withdraw physically from our extended network of friends and family.
King explains that happiness is a skill we can all learn, similar to fitness and that compassion and kindness are essential attributes in our pursuit of it. Her website is an invaluable resource on items of particular relevance such as creating happiness in our and other people´s lives, a coping calendar and hosting online groups. I urge you to have a look on: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/
There is also a free online coaching programme to boost mental wellbeing during this time with daily tasks.
Area 1 is orchestrating a similar meaningful activity via whats app whereby a designated member suggests an uplifting activity or call to action such as “Guess the baby” from old photos of club members, “Send a photo of your top 10 quarantine essentials”, or even, to capture the international flavour of our club, a request to post inspirational messages in various mother tongues such as this Slovak one: “Jedna pozitivna myslienka po ranu moze zmenit cely tvoj den.” “One positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”
My own pursuit of happiness has brought me into contact with some wonderful experts on the subject. Not least, Egyptian-born Mo Gawdat, the former Chief Business Officer of Google (X), the department responsible for many of the visionary ideas that came out of Google´s Moonshot factory such as balloon-powered internet and driverless cars. Spurred on by a feeling of discontent whilst at the peak of his professional success, Gawdat set about creating an algorithm to achieve happiness irrespective of life´s circumstances.
According to Gawdat´s scientific equation, happiness is greater than, or equal to, your perception of the events in your life minus your expectation of how life should be as he describes in his international bestseller, “Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy”. Gawdat´s personal moonshot is to deliver his message of happiness to one billion people around the world and judging by his notoriety he´s well on target.
Both his podcasts on Elizabeth Day´s award-winning How to Fail series: https://www.elizabethdayonline.co.uk/podcast have created seismic waves in my and many other people´s lives. Gawdat talks, very movingly how to handle negative thoughts that inevitably pop up, how to practise gratitude and how to accept a situation and work out what you can actively do to make life better. He is a truly inspirational figure I encourage you to explore.
Fortunately, a short term shot of happiness was served up to me by way of chocolate via Amazon which I have now taken to storing (ok….hiding) away from the children (and my choco-holic husband) in my wardrobe. Once I´m back up on my feet I shall probably have more need of a gastric band than the exercise band shown below.
It is probably not coincidence that Vanessa King has a degree in Zoology and that INC member, Tatiana da Silva taught us to laugh like a monkey during her laughter therapy class recently. I suspect that there are several species that can teach us a thing or two about resilience and sticking together in our community when our safety is compromised.
My own recipe for happiness, contentment and oodles of joy comes from the sweet yeasty aromas of this sugar-free bread recipe from the Sugarcubes´ native land of Iceland courtesy of I.Guttormsdottir, the mother in law of a friend. Ever so often a recipe that´s really worth making pops into your inbox, believe me, this is one of those. No kneading required.
ICELANDIC BREAD – Heilsubrauđ hjá Ömmu (Grandma´s healthy bread)
400ml brown flour or spelt flour
200ml ground coconut
200ml mixed seeds
Hand full of raisins
12 or so dates or other dried fruit cut in half
3 tea spoons of yeast (can be dried)
200ml cold semi or full fat milk
200ml boiling water
Mix it all together and pop into pre heated oven 180 for 25-35 mins
Tip: to increase protein content: use 50/50 ground almonds and ground coconut
Once you´ve put that on the table you can sit back and reflect on why “It´s oh so quiet”