Wednesday, 19 March 2014

My Happiness Project - My Happy App

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

My three gratitudes for today:
1. The health care system that I have access to that I freely use for me and my family
2. Friends / co-workers who break into my office to ensure proper decoration for a variety of occasions
3. Trust and respect from co-workers and managers

Today I would like to share a small project of my own.  Being inspired by Plasticity and Shawn Achor I developed a simple messaging application for my fellow co-workers.  The application plugs into a pre-existing intranet that we already use.  The reason I would like to share this project is because it is a direct result of looking for the positive in every day life.  It is realizing that The Golden Gate Bridge Didn't Collapse and looking for more positivity in the videos you watch, the books you read, or the people you are with.  The constant pursuit of this does change the way you think, it makes you more positive.  During a recent employee review meeting with my supervisor I was struck by how much I wanted to try and implement these ideas in my own work place.  I don't mean to say that my work place is a negative environment, but every place could use a bit more positive.

I woke up one morning with Achor's 5th point in rewiring your brain, "Random Acts of Kindness - write one positive email praising or thanking someone daily". I thought to myself why don't I just do that.  I realized that the social norms don't really allow you to compliment someone sincerely out of the blue it just feels awkward.  In addition, compliments from your supervisor or a friend while welcomed sometimes feel like a compliment from your Mom.  You enjoy it but you evaluate the source.  My idea was a method  of sending messages to fellow co-workers anonymously.  This would avoid the awkwardness of the initial note and well as the inevitable return compliment from the recipient.  The recipient would not automatically message you back with the best thing they could think of at the time but would send another individual a more genuine message because they would be unaware of the original sender.  I am hoping that this will cascade and spread positivity throughout the workplace versus a single closed loop of I message you and you message me and we are now even.

All of these thoughts were happening in that quiet time between me getting up and preparing lunches for the day and the children crashing down the stairs looking for breakfast.  My last thought before this inevitable moment was, "How can I make this safe?"  With any anonymous messaging service you always have to be concerned about the very tiny chance that someone takes the opportunity to take that anonymous jab at someone which would complete defeate the concept of the application.  My solution to this was to record both senders and receivers on any message and store the message in the database but to not display the senders anytime the message is viewed.  This would allow me to investigate any rare situation where a message raises a problem.  In order for this to be accepted there would need to be some trust in me as a gatekeeper to this information.  I have never been as excited to get to work as I was that day to code out this application.

I just "launched" this messenger application today with a presentation at a staff meeting.  My beta tests of the application were received very well and management was very happy with the potential.  I look forward to how the rest of the staff receive and buy into this compliment system.

I would also like to share this Google Talk by Shawn Achor (~60min).  This talk is an informal discussion where Shawn discusses more of his understanding of happiness and gratitude.  It is worth watching if you have the time.

Thanks for reading.

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Happy Project - The Business of Happiness

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

The 3 things that I am grateful for today:
  1. The sun and the warmth that spring bring (it has been a long winter)
  2. The freedom at work to explore new ideas
Maybe that last one was a bit over emphasized but I finally entered the new age and splurged to buy a Blackberry and I am pretty excited about it.

The story that I want to share today is the story of Jim and Jen Moss, I have been captivated by this story since the first time that I heard it.  This is a talk that Jen Moss did at the TEDxDistilleryDistrictWomen titled, "The epidemic of smiles and the science of gratitude"

Jen shares the wonderful story of her life and she says that 50% of happiness and optimism are from personality and genetics leaving 50% of those qualities that can be learned.  We can learn to be happy but we have to consciously choose this path.  The question for us is, how do we take the pause to look for the happy thought in the times when we are in a very negative situation.

Jim and Jen made it through this situation and started The Smile Epidemic which then transformed into a start up company Plasticity.  This company has developed a software platform to promote and encourage happiness at work.  Companies work with Plasticity to improve their bottom line by improving employee happiness.  This message resonates strongly with me as I have stated earlier. As an employer it may not be your responsibility to make your employees happy but your business will benefit significantly if you have happy employees.  Shawn Achor talked about rewiring your brain to achieve the Happiness Advantage. Plasticity shows us this is not only good for your mood and own productivity it is key to achieving business success.

Over the last number of weeks I have been trying to focus on the positive and the result is that I find it.  I encourage you to look and tell me what you find.

Here are a few more videos about Jim and Jen and Plasticity if you are interested in further understanding the business of happiness.

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Monday, 3 March 2014

My Happy Project - World is getting better but we still have work to do

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Continuing with the ideas of gratitude I here are the 3 things that I am grateful for today:
  1. My office window allowing me to feel the warmth of the sunshine
  2. A reliable car that will get me to where I need to go
  3. The internet allowing me to access information on any topic

Today's video is not directly about happiness but it continues along the same ideas that Hank Green discussed in my previous post.

I have a special place in my heart and mind for Bill Nye as my high school science teach used to play Bill Nye videos quite often in class.  The class would have to shout along with the intro, "BILL BILL BILL BILL, Bill Nye the science guy!"  This is Bill Nye many years later still passionate about science.  This video is titled, "Bill Nye, Science Guy, Dispels Poverty Myths"

Bill explains that the following about child deaths 5 years and under
  • 6% injuries
  • 11% non-communicable diseases (i.e. cancer)
  • 83% communicable / preventable diseases
Bill further explains very quickly that foreign aid has helped reduce child mortality by half. "We have a real opportunity to leave the world better than we found it."

I am uplifted by this very quick video because it shows that we can change the world and we already have made significant improvements to child mortality.  I wonder what else has been accomplished by humanity that we don't even realize. Changing your energy to realize what we have accomplished will motivate us to work harder to try and tackle the next big challenges.

My Happy Project: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |