Q: What can I do to make my life (and the life of those around me) better?
A: These five steps will make a huge difference:
- Be connected – either online or in face to face communities
- Be active
- Be aware of yourself and your surroundings, and take time out to reflect.
- Be a life-long learner – never stop exploring and finding out about new things.
- Be generous – with your time, your money, and yourself.
Life is better for people who do these things. To many people these principles are self-evident, but it is good to be reminded of them from time to time, and even better to find that they are actually backed up by solid scientific research.
Unlike many psychologists who study disorders and problems, Professor Huppert’s work is in wellness, studying how and why life is good for people, and ways to help more people move from ‘adequate’ to ‘flourishing’ in their overall outlook and experience of life. She works with colleagues around the world, and particularly in Europe, to study factors of wellness and to help governments develop policies which can make life better for their populations. Apparently there is a growing recognition from political leaders across Europe, and in some other parts of the world as well, that the Gross National Product is not the only, or even the most important, indicator of how well a country (or a government) is doing. Professor Huppert has been appointed to work with UK government committees and a Europe-wide social survey team to analyse the wellness of the population, with some interesting results.
Felicia also works with the New Economics Foundation which is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being. Their tagline is Economics as if people and the planet mattered. The five ways to wellbeing mentioned above are published on the site here, and the scientific evidence to support then is available here.
As I said above, for most people the five ways to wellbeing are fairly obvious, but that does not mean they are easy for us to put into practice in our own lives, or to incorporate into our work as educators. Difficult maybe, but definitely worth the effort.