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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

The School Of Life

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“The School of Life is a new cultural enterprise based in central London offering intelligent instruction on how to lead a fulfilled life.

We offer evening and weekend courses, holidays to unexpected locations, stigma-free psychotherapy, secular sermons, conversation meals, a floating faculty of experts and a new kind of literary consultancy service called bibliotherapy.

Our faculty is made up of some of the brightest thinkers and artists at work today. They include Alain de Botton, Geoff Dyer, Susan Elderkin, Tom Hodgkinson, Brett Khar, Robert Macfarlane and Martin Parr.

We are based in a small but spectacular shop on Marchmont Street, a thriving and bohemian part of central London. We’ve organised the shop as a chemist for the mind, a place where you can try out a variety of cultural solutions to everyday ailments. We sell books, artworks, courses, holidays and therapeutic services.”

‘A floating faculty of experts’ generates lovely images. More from The School Of Life.

Written by Karen

August 10th, 2008 at 6:03 am

Posted in happiness

book: How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson

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Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson follows up How to be Idle with How to be Free in which he exhorts us to live simpler lives, get off the capitalist hamster wheel and indulge in a bit of anarchism. Jolly medieval peasants seem to feature a lot. As reviewers have pointed out, he does seem to forget an awful lot of the nasty bits about the medieval period.

And for Hodgkinson, governments are responsible for wars and taxes but he conveniently ignores the NHS (which is the bit that vexes me about all this self-sufficiency stuff…. I’d still quite like having highly trained medical staff around and I don’t think they want to be paid in turnips or with a nice tune on the ukelele).

I felt compelled to follow this up with Medieval Lives by Terry Jones, which evened things out a bit with a healthy dose of corruption, pestilance and violence.

Written by Karen

July 2nd, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Posted in books,happiness,past

cherry crumble cheesecake: a slow exploit

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This cheesecake is one of those all day baking exploits. It is very easy (apart from the flipping at the end which really requires two pairs of hands) but you have to make sponge cake, bake, mix up the cherry layer, make crumb topping, make cheese layer, put it all together, bake, bring to room temp, refridgerate for hours, flip, remove foil, eat.

I made it more complicated by using fresh cherries so there was the extra painful step of stoning cherries. It took me all day and a lovely day it was too. So what if I got nothing else done?

The resulting creation is huge and PW will be able to feed off it for days, sparing him last week’s fate of eating a whole box of muesli.

And yes, we did eat some for breakfast.

Written by Karen

June 22nd, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in food,happiness,speed

why leisure matters

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“Whenever I conduct workshops with any group, I ask people how free they feel and to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 100. The responses are usually about the same whether I am talking to people in a correctional facility or at a workplace. I have learned firsthand that some people feel free while behind bars (and use their time in a positive way), yet others feel “locked up” while living in society.”

Why Leisure Matters in a Busy World in the New York Times

Written by Karen

June 22nd, 2008 at 9:45 am

Posted in happiness

happiness in managing metadata?

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I think around 12 IAs have had to manage our metadata system at one time or another.

One was not bothered by it, had no problems with the work. One other person found it satisfying and actually interesting. Everyone else seems to have found it limiting, frustrating, boring, degrading even. In the admittedly limited frame of IA, wireframes are sexier.

Maybe I’m odd but it was a task I found flow in. There was a rich repository of data to analyse, procedures that could be honed to perfection and theory that could be drawn upon. There were side benefits of learning new words (ungulates?) and watching the English language evolve (house-blinging?). It felt like a craft.

Now few of my colleagues were interested in what I was doing day-to-day but that had the benefit of no-one else meddling with it. So my success or failure on any given day was down to me. There’s a certain pleasure in that.

I also, to a reasonable extent, built my career on it. My first presentations and published articles were all formed by insights from being immersed in the metadata systems. Other people were working in the same space but for the most part they weren’t the same people who were standing up at conferences and talking.

So find it boring, by all means. But there’s opportunities there for the taking.

Written by Karen

June 13th, 2008 at 9:28 am

map of happiness

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This map is supposed to show the Wellbeing of Nations. I’m interested by the colours of Mongolia, France & Japan. More details and a bigger map here.

Written by Karen

May 31st, 2008 at 9:30 am

Posted in happiness

book: against happiness by Eric G. Wilson

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Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy was not what I expected.

Some quotes:

“what is existence if not an enduring polarity, an endless dance of limping dogs and lilting crocuses, starlings that are spangled and frustrated worms?”

“we wonder, then, if the obsession with happiness, is at the end of the day, a kind of unknowing necrophilia”

“we all know of this,the mind’s winter. No leaves now hide the nakedness of the branches. We stare at the gnarled and exposed limbs. They shiver in the wind. The oak and the elm, the maple and the birch: all these formally regal trees resemble poor souls desperate for clothing. No one meanders through the lanes radiating affection. The trees simply stand there, alone. They are the failed rules of a bleak land. Their domain is one of emptiness. Nothing stirs in the excruciating stillness. We have the feeling that there is room for almost anything to fill this wintry void. Something surely is going to happen out there in the vast spaces drained of all meaning”

I *think* that at least part of his argument is that without melancholy we wouldn’t get great art, poetry etc. I’m not sure his prose makes the point very well.

Written by Karen

May 28th, 2008 at 7:57 am

Posted in books,happiness

caring boss more important than money?

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In Seattle Post-Intelligencer, executive coach Maureen Moriarty, argues that a caring boss is key to helping workers and the business remain successful

“people most often leave workplaces due to poor bosses (not the organization). How employees feel about their jobs and organizations has everything to do with how their manager treats them”

Written by Karen

May 26th, 2008 at 10:50 am

Posted in happiness,work

growing stuff

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One of the 10 happiness principles put forward in Making Slough Happy was ‘plant something and nurture it’.

I’m halfway there this morning. I’ve planted basil, parsley, rocket, chard, lettuce, verbena and mina lobata. (Iain plants all the serious vegetables. I get the herbs and frivolous flowers)

Just got to get the nuturing bit right now.

Written by Karen

April 19th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Posted in gardening,happiness

classical wisdom

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“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Cicero

Written by Karen

April 4th, 2008 at 7:45 am