The submissions were judged and later the winner was announced, and the $5000 grant went to a young lady from Bangladesh who developed a plan to deliver low cost sanitary napkins to the tens of thousands of women in Bangladesh who everyday use sand, mud, leaves or dirty rags to absorb their menstrual flow, resulting in abrasions, infections and a variety of other painful disorders. I have to admit I sat their stunned and quite overcome with emotion as she described the plight of so many women living in poverty in her country.
I do intend to follow up on this issue and see how else funds can be raised for this project. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
We then had the most extraordinary presentation delivered by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve Ph.D. from Oxford who talked to use about the Economics of Happiness and Wellbeing. You can Google him and read his papers. He is a refreshingly bright and good humoured young guy.
He demonstrated with graphs and explanations that as economic growth progressed in many countries, so did Wellbeing. But once it got to a certain level, further economic growth produced no increase in Wellbeing.
This is aligned with the early warnings of legendary economist Simon Kuznets who founded the concepts of Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He scolded Government Officials warning that whilst GNP and GDP were useful data, they should never be used as a general indication of a society’s welfare.
If we look around the world, Greece’s Wellbeing rating is the lowest it has been since measurement began. During a period when average GDP per person rose from $20k to $35k in Europe, there was no measurable increase in Wellbeing.
It is interesting because just about everything in Australian Society is measured on an economic index.
Further studies revealed some incredible data, which can be used with confidence by employers and schools. Consider the following:
· Happy Youth showed later in life that they had a higher capacity to earn. Unhappy youth tended to be lower earners. This is a powerful indicator that happiness perhaps comes before wealth.
· The World Health Organisation reported that happy people live longer and suffer less ill health.
· There is a strong link between happiness and productivity. One is prompted to ask, “How does an employer make their people happy?”
· Companies that dedicated resources to genuinely improving the happiness of their people had a 2% average gain over others on the Stock Market.
· It has been shown that investors pay no attention when a company is listed as a “best place to work”, yet over time these companies continue to out-perform companies that are not recognised for their workplace culture.
· Gallup spent $250 million developing a Wellbeing Index. You can do a search on the 2015 Wellbeing Index.
Whilst it would be foolhardy for us to wait for our governments to start to focus on happiness and wellbeing as central issues, companies can do many things. It is interesting to note the power essay written by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum of the UAE titled “Why Ministers for Happiness, Tolerance, Youth and the Future?” I advise you to put aside some time before you tackle this article. I believe that it is a most brilliant piece of work.
This presentation laid down a powerful case for your company to take stock of how happy your people and to look at what initiatives you may be able to put into place to increase their level of happiness. However, I would caution you that it is not your job to make people happy, but to look at the elements existing in your workplace that are challenging or reducing people’s happiness.
Happiness tends to come from less physical things like appreciation, kindness, empathy, compassion and positive challenges, participation in worthwhile projects that help people and a feeling of self-worth.
If work tasks are mindless and boring or disconnected from any particular outcome, or if supervisors are unkind and bullying in their approach, or if physical location is unattractive, people are less likely to be happy.
But if people are informed, trusted with information, have their efforts connected to outcomes and how they are helping others, and the workplace is kind, fun and caring, people will be happier at work.
It is when a company is solely driven by economic indicators that these things tend to “go out the window”.
We then had a wonderful session from Professor Gerry Bodeker who I mentioned in an earlier article.
He talked about the emerging trends in mental wellness. This can be described in a number of ways but it basically means a negative change in the way a person thinks and view the world. For example, he said that an older person who has a severe fall is no afraid of falling. So they may stop going out for a few of falling. This means they don’t go walking down the street to purchase good food and start to become mal nourished. The lack of exercise and shopping can lead to malnutrition, diseases like osteoporosis. They can go into deep decline.
For this reason activities like Tai Chi are recommended for older people to reduce their risk of falling.
He then went on to talk about my old friend the microbiome. He talked about the different microbial universes around ur body: in the gut; on the skin; in the throat and in the nose etc.
HE said that poor care for the microbiome is turning up some incredible findings. For example, one study showed that 10% of schizophrenia patients had gut bacteria in their brains. Others were found to have candida from the throat and nose in their brain tissue. He talked about the importance of good life habits like gargling sesame oil for the throat and nasal washing for the nasal passages.
He created a bit of a laugh when he talked about people going on a Detox. He said, “What is the De that we are Toxing? And how effective is the De-ing”. He is right. When I present in my seminars and talk about bowel flushing as a detox, we are talking specifically about removing retained waste to create a better environment for rejuvenating the gut flora, a vital component of our microbiome.
There is lots of good information on www.wellnessevidence.com
Gerry then played us part of an interview that he did with the former Prime Minister of Bhutan. The Prime Minister said that their country places great importance in the happiness of its people. He said that they have cultural traditions and they count. All economic plans go through a review process that measures how aligned the policy is with theses cultural traditions. If they do not line up, they are not passed.
He said that some people have said, “But this will slow our growth!” His response, with a cheeky smile, “Well, we will grow more slowly then.” Bhutan has a blanket ban on mining as it fails to align with their important cultural traditions.
Gerry had a suggestion that I thought was quite wonderful. And when I contemplate it, I have seen this happen. He said, “Take what you do, and in down time, share it where it is needed”. For example, you may run a plumbing company and go through a brief period of little scheduled work. During that time, find out where plumbing skills are desperately needed but there is no money to pay for them and give for the sake of giving.
Finally, we had a presentation on Millennials. It was fascinating, but for the purposes of this paper, I am not going into it. I do however wish to do some more research on the topic and will write another paper in the near future.
Until then, may you be happy and well.
Published On October 20, 2016