DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on the world's happiest countries

Previous posts have discussed the comparative data among countries using measures of happiness or subjective well being. Sometimes, the fact that two different measures are used causes confusion. One measure, used by Martin Seligman to measure "authentic happiness" as described in his book, is the simpler of the two. It measures happiness by asking people how happy they are. A second measure also asks people how happy they are but adds a second dimension called satisfaction. That measure is called a subjective well being score and is used in the World Values Surveys done at the University of Michigan.

Using the second (subjective well being) measure, the following countries rank in the top five across the globe: 1. Nigeria 2. Mexico 3. Venezuela 4. El Salvador and 5. Puerto Rico. At first blush, it is obvious that these countries have something in common: they each have large numbers of relatively poor people, suggesting that money does not equate with happiness. The list brings to mind another truth, which is this: Happiness is a state of mind, and as such, people have complete control over it. If people make the best of their circumstances, they can create the conditions necessary for happiness. One wonders if there is a cultural characteristic about poverty that enables people to see the best in their circumstances, which in turn influences their sense of well being?

I have two friends, both professionals, who respectively are from Nigeria and Puerto Rico. They are both positive energy emoting people. That is, they bring good feelings to situations, in comparison with others who seem to work hard in the opposite direction. Each of these persons also share the trait of valuing things that make a difference in the longer term, while also taking care to make each moment a particular pleasure for themselves and others.

In future blogposts I will explore this notion further. As always, if you have observations about anything on this topic or others that pertains to doing life well, please share it with us!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What to do during Spring

Spring for many is the most glorious of the seasons, and it holds true for me as well. It is especially wonderful in portions of the globe where the winters are long and bitterly cold and people are forced from the warmth of their habitats for only the most essential of tasks (such as going to work, worshiping, seeing friends, dining out, attending school or shopping at the grocery or department store). What's left, you might ask? 

Well, what's left is enjoying nature, sitting on the deck, walking by the river or pond, and staring at the sunset or the birds in the trees. In the winter there are no squirrels scurrying about in the grass, and birds are not nesting in the trees. There is little bicycling either, nor canoeing, nor kayaking, nor in-line skating, or running. The winter worshipers will be quick to point out that there is ice fishing and cross country skiing and ice skating during their season. But even these sports, fun as they are, find their adherents happy to get inside to relinquish the activity to warm drinks and cozy fireside chats.

Yes. Spring is wonderful not only because of the weather, but because of the blossoming of nature and the general spring fever that overtakes the land. People are happy to be out and about, and so are other animals. Everyone frolics. The seasons ahead bode more of the same enjoyment, as spring gives way to the fullness of summer, and summer recedes to the beauty of autumn.

So, what's to do during spring? Enjoy life through outdoor activity...or inactivity. Just be and bask in its beauty.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Home again

It's hard to believe I have not posted a blog entry for three weeks, and I'm amazed at how fast time has passed. Of course, I've been busy; but then again, so have you. Which prompts a reflection in this post about the perception of time. That is, how it seems to pass so quickly on some occasions and so slowly on others.

As a person well into middle age, I have the distinct impression that time accelerates as we get older.  I can recall endless and interminable afternoons in my desk during the fifth grade (and perhaps on more recent occasions as I endured disengaging lectures). In the sixth grade I was fortunate to have a master teacher and felt constantly engaged; the time passed quickly and I excelled. I now wonder if there was a relationship between the two experiences (my performance and my perception of time).

Of course, there have been scientists interested in this phenomenon, both from a psychological perception perspective and a time use/accuracy of reporting standpoint. Not surprisingly, time use scientists report that perceived versus actual time spent working is inflated, while perceived versus actual time spent in leisure and social activity is underestimated. Go figure.

The whole complex matter of perceived time passage, performance, and happiness is immensely interesting, and invites the possibility that loneliness is associated with depression because of disengagement and the perception that time crawls mercilessly through uninviting terrain—rather than springing, as it should, through more pleasant surroundings. 

I'll have a look at the literature to see if any enterprising (engaged) scientist has cleverly considered these questions and report them if I find anything. Meantime, if you discover something, or have a thought to share, please feel free to post it here. Meantime, I wish you engaging moments.

About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.