Health And Emotional Wellness Roundup – Nov 14: Feeling happy is just one component of Happiness

Happiness is just one element of what makes us “Happy”; Time Famine – How it Negatively Impacts our Health; How to have a meaningful life; Vit B12 deficiency linked to some Alzheimer’s

In this Weeks Edition

The Pursuit of Happiness.

As the wife of a political economist who’s lived in several countries, I’m often shown infographics on how different countries stack up along various phenomena – everything from hand washing, parental leave, to venereal disease.

The ones on happiness are the least credible to me. Maybe it’s to do with my deep scepticism of the definition of happiness being universal across cultures when it changes for individuals by life stages and experiences.

Maybe it’s also because as a married woman, all the studies tell me I’m going to be more unhappy than a single woman. That as a parent, my happiness will take a further hit until my child is grown.

Yet logically, this can’t be true or it wouldn’t keep happening.

Happiness is just one element of what makes us “Happy”.

This article on the effect of parenthood on happiness helps give a little more dimension to our understanding of the components of what we call happiness. The is feeling happy in any given moment. And there is meaningful.

There is also an importance we give to being in service of something we’re deeply attached to, or that’s bigger than us -such a family- that is simply bigger than our own feelings.

Veterans will understand that.

Is our pursuit of happiness misplaced?

This article by the BBC explains that what makes happiness elusive and the “formulas” for creating it in our lives so hit and miss, is that we’re chasing the effect of living the good life.

Studies have shown that having loving attachments correlates with happiness, but we know from experience that love is also the cause of pain. What if pain is necessary and even desirable? All the good things in life entail suffering. Writing a novel, running a marathon, or giving birth all cause suffering in pursuit of the final, joyous result.

The BBC article is like an episode of “The Good Place”, but discusses different views on happiness through the ages and their merits.

Aristotle’s view of flourishing is complex ..incorporat[ing] individual satisfaction, moral virtue, excellence, good fortune, and political engagement.

How to create a meaningful life

While we can’t control our fortune, this psychology today article shows us we can set about to add more meaning to our life.

  • Learn something new.
  • Expressing yourself (fiction, photography..a blog, even?)
  • Pursuing something challenging. Whatever that means for you.
  • Volunteering.

“Some of the best ways to cultivate meaning and purpose are giving, being kind, being compassionate, and being generous.”

The best tip I learned from GTD is that writing out your values and how you vision each area of responsibility in your life flourishing (in outline) can really help clarify the directions to move towards in creating meaning.

Time Famine – Why it Negatively Impacts Our Health

Feeling like you never have enough time to get it all done? Work, workout, cook/eat, clean up after yourself, socialise, better yourself/your career, have hobbies AND sleep?

That feeling is called Time Famine and we respond to it as if it were real physiological stress: raised heart rate and blood pressure, less clear decision making.
It’s a form of chronic stress most of us didn’t even know wasn’t normal.

“Time poverty is linked to lower well-being, physical health, and productivity. Individuals, organisations, and policymakers often overlook the pernicious effects of time poverty.” ~ Ashley V. Whillans, Nature Human Behaviour, August 2020

In the past we used to have bigger blocks of free time: shops would be closed earlier in the day, and on Sundays – forcing us to rest, whether it was convenient or not. We also had fewer options and less money with which to spend our time.

Today we have “Time confetti”, a larger amount of free time scattered in tiny slivers throughout the day.

The problem is that these tiny slivers feel too small to do anything meaningful – except scroll or play words with friends.

Solutions for Time Famine:

  • You know those memes saying you need 5 hobbies? Honestly, you do not. Reject hustle culture. Rest is essential for productivity.
  • Notifications off after work hours for that office slack or WhatsApp group.
  • I love this “Slay Your Schedule” download from Amy hoy. It’s designed to help would be entrepreneurs free up time to work on their side hustle, but works so well as a heuristic for delegating, binning and automating various tasks in an already too busy life.
  • Remember that digital apps are almost always designed to increase dissatisfaction if a task, habit or streak isn’t achieved and keep you inside the app as much as possible via addictive design. For me, it’s calmer and less addictive to use paper, like a bullet journal for non work related tasks.
  • If you struggle to say no to things (socially or work related), take this as a sign to work on building your boundaries.
  • I like to ruthlessly track my time doing various work tasks, or even non work tasks like “chores” before doing a time re-evaluation. I also started by using RescueTime to track how I used my computer during work time and get some real insights into how distracted I actually was during the day with emails or slack. This helped me get serious with setting and communicating boundaries about my availability. It also helps back you up at work to be able to show data.

How to Make The Most of Time Confetti

  • Remember that you are under stress when you have a sliver of free time and your ability to make decisions on what to do next is impaired. You need to calm yourself.

One of the core issues is that we tend to use our already-agitated energy and mindlessly seek another place to use it, rather than seeking ways to shift into neutral and settle into a more mindful, relaxed, expansive and resourceful state. We get stuck in “stress gear” and just keep that going. ~ , Making Mindful Use Of Your ‘Time Confetti’

This is a terrible time to scroll, stress eat or check email. No matter how logical it seems.

  • Be hyper aware that you are more likely to acept additional tasks or start new projects, simply tp feel more in control. Managers, you will start dishing out extra tasks to your managees or request extra changes. Resist the urge to follow through.
text overlay over image of a desk reads: when we feel time poor, studies show that we start taking on more tasks to feel in control

When we feel time poor, we take on small, easy-to-complete tasks because they help us feel more control over our time. Ashley V. Whillans, “Time Confetti and the Broken Promise of Leisure” Behavioural Scientist, October 7, 2020

Instead, the Forbes article recommends we use this time to:

  • Take some deep breaths
  • Check in with yourself emotionally
  • Ask yourself “am I doing what’s most important to me today?”
  • Jot down some gratitude

I like to use this time to:

  • Update my journal (Day One). I use the slash “/now” command to add a timestamp and write down how the day has been going and my feelings.
  • Add to emotional lists I keep: shows I enjoyed watching, things that I find soothing, activities that bring me joy, podcasts I love, recipes to try, my list of personal policiesthese help me make better decisions on how to use my time when I’m running on “reactivity”.

“You’ll know it was a useful practice if you feel recharged, more open, more expansive. You feel you have more to offer others. You feel more resourceful, agile, able to respond better to whatever is coming up next.” ~ , Making Mindful Use Of Your ‘Time Confetti’

Vit B12 Deficiency May Be Linked To Some Alzheimer’s

Studies on worms suggest that vitamin B 12 supplementation prevents the build-up of beta-amyloid proteins. These are the proteins that in humans, accumulate as Alzheimer’s worsens, leading to the beta-amyloid hypothesis: that they cause damage to the brain through being toxic.

In humans, we can’t actively measure the build-up of this protein, but in a species of worms known as C. elegans, beta-amyloid accumulation has a pretty obvious effect: the worms become paralysed and stop wiggling.

Vitamin B12 supplements in vitamin B12 deficient worms prevented that outcome. In worms already eating foods rich in Vitamin B, no noticeable difference occurred.

Dr James Connell, Head of Translational Science at Alzheimer’s Research UK reminds us that so far, vitamin supplementation in people who are not experiencing nutritional deficiencies has no shown to give any results.

Supplements are only helpful to an extent.
If in doubt, request a blood workup for your vitamin status, and remember to eat variety!

What are your tips for Time Confetti & Time Famine?

Until next time,

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  1. Happiness is an interesting concept, and it seems like people use it to refer to a lot of different things. Happiness as a fleeting emotion is different from contentment, fulfilment, meaning and purpose, and so on, and so on, yet it all kind of gets jumbled together under the word happiness.

    I wonder if time famine would disappear entirely if everyone took a break from their devices.

  2. I love the section on how to create a meaningful life. Those four things really do help with happiness, or at the very least, contentment. I find that my world does seem better if I keep improving while giving back to the world. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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