A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.
March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.
In 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.
In 2017, the Smurfs joined the UN in celebrating the International Day of Happiness as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – #SmallSmurfsBigGoals
The details of 2018 celebrations have not yet been announced, but whatever you have planned for the day, be happy!
Borrowing from neighbours was once a commonplace practice, part of the network of relations we once had with those who lived within close range.
So what’s changed?
The industrial revolution brought affordable modern technology—with it quick transportation and supermarkets. In ancient times, hunting, gathering, and foraging were communal practices. And it wasn’t long ago that many cultures, especially rural ones, still relied on weekly markets, traveling salesmen, and the growing of their own goods. But living in relative isolation also meant more contact with your neighbours because one of them probably provided your weekly dairy needs and another milled wheat for flour or grew pears you exchanged for apples.
Changes in food technology, making fresh produce less perishable, extending shelf life, has decreased the interaction we have with those who live close by to help out when we are running short. Communal cooking practises regularly seen in other countries don’t feature in our society.
It’s easy to reflect on past practises with rose tinted spectacles. Changes in our food supply has brought countless benefits. However, does the growing reliance on foodbanks indicate we should re-evaluate practises long forgotten? Reconnecting with our neighbours in times of need would not only strengthen bonds within our communities but provide welcome support during difficult times. The social distance created by modern society is a symptom of our increasingly busy lives and the sprawling communities we now live in. However, it is only a short walk next door for that cupful of sugar, but the benefits to our communities can stretch much further than that.
Solomon thought so, he says to ‘go to the ant’ and ‘consider the ant’ and refers to them as little upon the earth but exceeding wise. He suggests that taking a leaf from their book will preserve us from poverty and give us wisdom. Given Solomon is the richest man the world has ever known (today he would be worth 100 times more than John D Rockefeller), some ant facts are worth knowing.
So, how do ant communities do it?
1. Strong leadership
Ant communities are headed by a queen or queens, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Workers (the ants typically seen by humans) are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead, forage for food, care for the queen’s offspring, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties. When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce. The lesson;
Without strong and clear leadership – failure is imminent!
2. Communicate & cooperate
Ants are social insects which form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Ants communicate and cooperate by using chemicals (pheromones) that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source. The lesson;
Nothing can succeed without clear communication and cooperation.
Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, spending time with friends and family and maybe overindulging just a little bit?
Here are our top tips to ensure you don’t start 2018 with that sinking feeling of too much Christmas pudding being the final straw;
- Don’t sit down all day – go for a walk, kick a football about, ride a new bike. Not only will this aid digestion, but help you sleep better too.
- Go easy on the booze
- Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing! Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man!
- Keep colds at bay
- Don’t stress – ’tis the season to be jolly remember
- Eat fruit – even the clementine tucked in the bottom of your stocking will boost vitamin C warding coughs and colds.
- Do something for others – do you have an elderly neighbour who would love to share some festive spirit?
- Engage your brain – play games, do a crossword, not only does this keep your mind active but can be fun for the whole family
It’s never too late to rectify those ill-fated New Year’s Eve resolutions in which you swore to lead a healthier life. But if traditional spas leave you cold and meditation bores you, don’t worry, there are plenty of other options out there.
- Prison pampering, Thailand
While a visit to a Thai correctional institution may scream holiday hell rather than whisper wellness, in Chiang Mai a trip to prison is an unorthodox experience.
Inmates at the women’s correctional institution are given holistic training that will aid job prospects once released. They pamper visitors using the skill learned. It not only soothes aches and pains, but any tips earned are kept for prisoners on their release.
- Wine Spa Japan
At the end of a hard week, for many people one of the best ways to relax and unwind is with a glass or two of red wine.
But why not go one step further than drinking the stuff, and book a trip to the Yunesson Spa Resort in Japan?
It’s a self-described ‘spa theme park’ where you can legitimately bathe in hot tubs filled with Merlot or Bordeaux.
- Laughter Yoga
Invented by Indian doctor Madan Kataria in the mid-Nineties, laughter yoga now has thousands of devotees. Many sessions, are free for anybody to join, providing newcomers don’t mind an early start. Propelled by the philosophy that laughter gives humans huge spiritual and medical benefits, its main objective couldn’t be simpler – to set you’re giggling, howling, chortling and smirking instincts free.
- Buried Alive; a shamanic death & rebirth
With hopes of experiencing a closer connection with Mother Nature, pilgrims journey to the northwest coast of the US to take part in a shamen led burial ceremony.
Free spirited individuals are taken into the wilderness and covered fully with earth. After re-emerging individuals are said to feel a deeper connection and knowledge of spirit and creation.
- Cryotherapy, Slovakia
Nothing shouts health kick like freezing bits off in temperatures of -120c. Sportsmen and women have been using cryotheraphy to aid recovery for decades but now the public can don gloves, a face mask and step into a giant fridge.
Benefits are said to include the natural productions of enzymes and hormones as endorphins, adrenaline and testosterone are released. It’s the coolest wellness trend in town.
Connections between generations are proven to enrich the lives of both young and seniors in long-lasting and meaningful ways.
When young people find ways to engage and develop relationships with the elderly, these experiences can build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and encourage a lifelong commitment to volunteering.
For seniors, intergenerational connections provide the opportunity to transfer knowledge and wisdom, acknowledge self-worth, and feel they are contributing members of society.
In today’s world, many young people are experiencing less interaction with seniors because of homogenous neighborhoods, dispersed extended families, and increasing segregation of seniors living in care facilities or in isolation
Some of the benefits of intergenerational work include:
- Creation of age friendly communities.
- All generations have a lot to both teach and learn from each other and contribute to lifelong learning.
- Tackles issues around stereotyping and ageism.
- Increases understanding and respect between older people and younger people.
- Chance to make new friends and combats social isolation.