Weekend TEFL Coursebook from i-to-i – May 2011
So I did this course around May 2011 and mostly to have a backup plan for my move to Poland. I was doing my regular vairagya / voluntary simplicity / clearing up and came across this lovely book. Screenshots below are for personal use as tenses are very confusing. The course was great and we were given so many resources. The course mates I’ve kept in touch with seem to be on their lovely journey. I usually have a journal entry on my blog or private files but cannot find the TEFL adventure to link it.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Weekend TEFL Course
Module One: Teaching Language Structures to Our Students
Introductions and warmers
Getting to know one another
Interactive practice activities
Module Two: Eliciting the Target Language
How a teacher elicits
Understanding the importance of using a target language
Module Three: Arranging Your Class
The fundamentals of classroom management
Keeping your students moving
Module Four: Introduction to Grammar Terminology
A quick introduction to grammar terminology
Running board activities
Module Five: A Foreign Language Lesson
The experience of learning a new language
Modelling the target language
Module Six: Using Classroom Props
Module Seven: Using Body Language to Teach
Module Eight: Using the Board
Writing structures and vocabulary
Module Nine: The Meanings and Functions of Language
Learning English through functions and meaning
Using different registers
Module Ten: Class Levels
Understanding the different levels of students
How to determine a student’s level
Looking at students’ contrasting abilities in writing and speaking
Module Eleven: Teaching Structure and Meaning
Teaching the meaning of structures
Asking concept questions
The importance of natural pronunciation
Highlighting the form of structures
Module Twelve: Practice Activities
How to plan and prepare practice activities in a lesson
Controlled practice v. free practice
Information gap activities
Module Thirteen: Planning a Lesson
Writing a grammar-based lesson plan
The PPP method
Module Fourteen: Teaching Practice #1
Preparing a lesson
Teaching a lesson
Receiving feedback from your peers and your tutor
Module Fifteen: Qualities of an EFL Teacher
What makes a good teacher?
How to use role-play in the classroom
Module Sixteen: The Sounds of English
Module Seventeen: Teaching the Four Skills
Module Eighteen: Using Music to Teach English
The pros and cons of using music
Module Nineteen: The Tenses of the English Language
The thirteen tense constructions in the English language
Looking at tense constructions in clauses
Labelling words in English structures
Module Twenty: Correcting Students’ Errors
Positive strategies of error correction
Correcting oral and written errors
Module Twenty-One: English Examinations
English exams commonly used around the world
Module Twenty-Two: Teaching Practice #2
Final teaching practice
Controlled and free practice
Module Twenty-Three: Finding Work
Working in the UK and abroad
Applying for a TEFL position
Books and websites
The Moneyless Manifesto: Live Well, Live Rich, Live Free by Mark Boyle
The Moneyless Man Interview – Living without Money and being off the grid
– We have come to believe that we need money, that we depend on it to survive. We believe that money provides for us when it is actually Nature. Even Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, said that “all money is a matter of belief”.
– He makes so many potent points and ways of alternate thinking. I mean there is just so much in such a small book! Ideas, resources, quotes. So far 2 pages are dedicated to other moneyless people and their blogs or books or clubs or whatever form of legacy they have left for others.
– How money started as something good and ended up ruining the world in more ways than just morality and environment.
– Excellent breakdown of how we are a part of a whole. The water in the stream is in a glass now and then goes in our bodies and makes part of us.
– Tribal people didn’t store or horde. Families spent real time with each other and had a sense of community.
– Money has made things cold and transactional. A doctor births the baby and accounts are squared and the relationship is over. And these days it’s just numbers on the screen.
– If you grow your own food you wouldn’t waste it. You need your own water you wouldn’t pollute it.
– Economy of Scales EOS – the more you produce the cheaper it costs to produce. It’s so efficient that the planet is being looted. You’re exchanging money with people you will never meet instead of supporting and connecting with the locals.
– Division of Labor DOL – Spending 40+ hours at a desk doing unfulfilling crap. Instead of having different needs and skills.
– Nappies: Most parents are aware that you can make reusable, washable cloth nappies. If these were used by everyone it would save 8 million nappies from being dumped in landfill every day (3 billion annually) in the UK alone, saving parents an average of £500 a year into the bargain. Yet there is an option that saves you both the bother and expense of making and using washable nappies. It is called Elimination Communication (EC), also known as Nappy Free Baby. This is a toilet training technique where a parent uses methods such as signals, cues and intuition to cope with a child’s toileting needs. This method’s ideal is to use no nappies whatsoever, but you may combine it with washable nappies when the situation requires it. Not only would the widespread use of EC take a big chunk out of our landfill sites, save all the energy and materials involved in producing nappies in the first place, and reduce the workload o f parents.
– A culture of scarcity that makes you worry about the other person breaking what you’ve loaned them, or not giving it back, leaving you feeling like the cheated one.
– Interview with Dr. Chris Johnstone about addiction. Connection of consumerism with tolerance.
– Once the land was free for all to roam. More recently, our land was held in common, for the commoners. Now it is owned by the few – 1% own 70% of the land.
– Suggests looking into Freemen when it comes to paying tax.
– Insurance in the old days used to be an understanding with locals who would help. Say like if something happened to your house, the neighbours would have the tools or know how to help.
– He created Freeconomy. You share your time, skills, knowledge for free. Update: The site has teamed up with Streetbank.
– Questions why a bird is free to live on land while we have to pay. Ideas and resources to live as free as possible.
– Indian flag wheel and Gandhi’s meaning of swadeshi. Mahatma Gandhi believed that true national independence would only be achieved through Swadeshi, which roughly translates as self-sufficiency. He believed that India would only truly earn political independence when it achieved economic independence. In order to do this, he encouraged the millions of Indians to start spinning their own cloth again and to stop buying it from industrial fabric centres such as those in Lancashire in England. This culminated in bonfires of Lancashire cloth lighting up the land as a powerful symbolic act. Therefore, the spinning wheel became the symbol of true political independence.
– If I were to create a flag for the planet, it would have a compost toilet on it. The flush toilet represents everything that is psychopathic about our current culture and mindset – we shit and piss into a life-giving liquid, spoiling it in the process, instead of using both of these potential resources (in different ways) to fertilise the soil which, in turn, makes the food that we eat more nutritious. Instead, we import polluting fertilisers from distant laboratories once we’ve finished polluting our waterways. Somehow we’ve managed to take a really beneficial resource for the soil and turn it into a major ecological problem. I urge you to ditch your flush toilet and install a compost loo as a symbolic and, dare I say it, spiritual act. It’s a no -brainer for anyone who wants to simultaneously stop polluting their source of life, drastically reduce their water consumption, and obtain a high quality organic.
– Given the tragic fact that every year in the UK, 3 million pheasants, 800,000 rabbits, 50,000 deer, squirrel and badgers, as well as 25,000 foxes are killed on our roads, (and extrapolating from these appalling statistics, whilst taking into account the differing size of the various animals and, for arguments sake, assuming that 50% of such animals are serviceable as food – i.e. avoiding the tabloid cliché that anyone who eats road kill ‘scrapes it off the tarmac’) then (when accounting for the differing number of servings from each animal) we’re looking at least 8,900,000 potential meals for the practical, discriminating and opportunist forager. Bon appétit!
– If you ever need glass jars or bottles of various shapes and sizes, just do the rounds of the recycling bins of some street in my area on the morning the recycling gets put out each week – you could start a jam factory from the amount of jars you can find during one morning’s stroll.
– Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to import lots of food stuffs into your own food system in order to preserve that which you grow or forage – people have been storing their food in the UK long before industrialised processes and fossil fuels came along. What is important is to slowly learn the skills you’ll need to preserve food – the best way to do this is by asking some of the elders of your community who hold so much unappreciated knowledge that needs to be tapped before it is lost.
– Skin is a little micro ecosystem in itself, and using soap is, in my book, on a par with cultivating the soil – I can see why people do it, but it’s the shenanigans of a people who don’t fully appreciate the intricacies of ecosystems, and the long-term damage we can do from what initially seems like harmless, innocent behaviour.
– Since I’ve been The Soapless Man for many years now, my overriding advice on most things in relation to hygiene is to use water and little else. There rarely is any need for anything more than that, with a few exceptions. When you use soap, you strip away much of the goodness and moisture as well as what we think of as ‘dirt’. The result being that we then become dependent on the same companies that sold us this moisture-robbing agent in the first place to put the moisture back in. They get to sell us two products when none were needed in the first place. People who don’t wash their hair for a few months are regularly quoted as saying their hair starts to clean itself. The same is true for skin. The main reason I can live without soap is that I generally eat a very healthy diet: wholegrains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and clean fresh water, the odd herb tea and little else. All organic and fresh. If you put good stuff in, what comes out will smell fine. If you put junk in, what comes out will smell like junk. It’s that simple.
– Bums and toilet paper: The first question you should ask yourself is – do you need it? I’ve no doubt that almost everyone will say yes! But many cultures use water to clean their bums, and considering we use water for all other parts of our body, there would seem to be a lot of logic in that. If you do prefer to have a wipe, then there are a number of options. First, you can approach your local newsagents and ask them if they’re happy for you to take a couple of copies of the previous day’s papers that they have to normally throw out. Similarly to your dishes, pine cones (choose the softer, decomposing ones from the forest floor) and big clumps of grass work well. Anything broad-leaved is good, though take care not to use any leaves that are toxic or poisonous to humans; a dock leaf will suffice, its anti-inflammatory qualities are particularly soothing if you’ve been on the curry the night before. If you are striving for Enlightenment and want to transcend the mundane material world, then use a bunch of stinging nettles and that will test your mettle. Surprisingly, smooth rocks with no sharp edges also work well, and the more porous the better. If you’re lucky enough to have moss at hand in an emergency situation, go for that. If it’s winter and all of the above are covered in a icy white blanket, then I’d advice using that blanket. Snow certainly isn’t the most appealing option at 6am on a winter’s morning, but that’s sometimes what living ecologically means, so man-up and deal with it! Remember: it’s only poo, and it came from you in the first place!
– Stay4Free is a project which allows you to have a house all to yourself. How it works is simple – you sign up, list both your home and your desired destinations,
and contact anyone on their database that could potentially fit the bill, requesting a house swap. If they fancy coming and spending some time in the part of the world your house is in, then you can agree dates and details between yourselves.
– Hushmail encrypts your email before it is sent so that nobody other than those who are the intended recipients can read it, after they themselves have decrypted it by one means or another. In Hushmail’s words, “a typical email message is no more secure than a holiday postcard sent through the public postal system”, whereas with their system it is more like “a letter in a sealed envelope”.
– Children learn best from practical involvement. Paras note: some squares don’t comprehend how true this is.
– Personal anecdote on his vasectomy and going the natural way to heal himself from complications.
– Medicinal plants work on the body in four main ways, via stimulation, relaxation, nutrition and elimination.
– Using roadkill buckskin is actually ‘more vegan’ than buying natural fibre clothing that has come from the global industrial-scale economy. Vegans who think that buying cotton and other pesticide-ridden fibres produced on land that has, first, been relegated from Wild to agriculturally managed land before, subsequently, being shipped around the world using fossil fuels (which have been extracted in ways that inevitably destroys huge swaths of habitat and all that once lived in it – the Gulf of Mexico being but one example), are deluding themselves to some extent about how ‘vegan’ their lifestyles really are. Pesticides are not vegan, the clue is in the name. Neither are fossil fuels.
– POP Model example – Level 1 (100% local gift economy): Walking barefoot, connecting with the earth beneath my feet. Level 2: Walking in shoes I made myself (or were unconditionally gifted to me) from local materials. Level 3: Walking in shoes I bartered for, which were made from local materials. Level 4: Walking in trainers made in a Chinese factory. Level 5: Cycling on an industrial scale bicycle. Level 6: (100% global monetary economy): Driving a hybrid car.
– As Epicurus once pointed out, there are two ways of getting rich: increasing your financial wealth, or decreasing your desires.
Note: Bhavna made a good point about the author’s profits from book sales and how that is the opposite of being Moneyless. He might be gifting it or contributing it in some way. Update: Just found a site where the book is made free online and looks like you can order a copy too. http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/why-free/
Table of Contents – with subtitles to reduce notes
– Foreword by Charles Eisenstein
A reluctant author
All art is propaganda
1. The Money Delusion
Moneyless philosophy and the delusion of self
Time isn’t money
Real community requires interdependency
Our disconnection from what we consume
The Economies of Scale (EOS) married to money
The Division of Labour (DOL) married to money
Money causes waste
Gross inequality through the storing of value
Prostitution is to sex what buying and selling is to giving and receiving
Time to choose a new story?
2. The Moneyless Menu
WHAT IS A MONEYLESS ECONOMY?
The moneyless economy defined
The gift economy
THE GIFT ECONOMY IN ACTION
The 100% local economy
The resource-based economy (RBE)
3. The POP model
HOW IT WORKS
Moneyless women and men
4. Challenges and transitional Strategies
Current human culture
Addiction to industrialisation
Planning permission for low / zero impact living
Council tax – the tax on being alive
Being a parent
5. Labour and Materials
Other skillsharing schemes
The art of flint knapping
Freecycle and Freegle
Sharing – not giving away – your stuff
Books and paper
Paper and pens
Tools, gadgets and equipment
Five things to do with a pallet
Land of the free
Windowsills and small spaces
WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
Turning urban wastelands into growing spaces
Create an inspiring vision and pursue it passionately
EMBERCOMBE – THE STORY OF ITS CREATION
Join an established community
PERMACULTURE AND RELOCALISATION
Campaigning for realistic land reform
House – and boat-sitting
Cheap (or potentially free) to build, free to run houses
Passive solar designs
Earth bag construction
Straw bale homes and guest houses
COMPOST: ONE MAN’S SHIT IS ANOTHER MAN’S FERTILISER
8. Food and Water
Wild food foraging
WILD PROTEIN: LEAF CURD AND ROADKILL
How to make leaf curd
How to store and use the curd
Wild food and roadkill
Seed saving and swapping
Closed loop systems
HOMEMADE NATURAL, ORGANIC PESTICIDES, FERTILISERS AND PLANT AND SOIL ENHANCERS
AGROFORESTRY: ESSENTIAL FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
THE NO DIG (NO-TILL) METHOD
Storing your produce
Community orchards and the Abundance project
Water wells and bore holes
Springs, streams and rivers
Moisturisers and toners
Bums and toilet paper
Teeth and mouth
CLEANING USING 100% LOCAL INGREDIENTS
10. Transport and Holiday accommodation
AN ODE TO WALKING BAREFOOT
RULES OF THE ROAD
Bicycles bits and pieces
Accommodation when you get there
Long-term free accommodation
11. Living Off-grid
Jumpers (and long johns)
Gas bottle wood-burner
Sources of wood
THE FIREWOOD POEM
Open source ecology
OPEN SOURCE TECHNOLOGIES AND FREE COMMUNICATION
Computers, mobile phones and other communication devices
OpenOffice and LibreOffice
DuckDuckgo and Startpage
EDUCATION FOR A NON-MONETARY ECONOMY
THE OPTION OF HOME EDUCATING
How does it work?
How do your children mix and make friends?
What about cost?
What happens as they get older?
A different understanding
FREESKILLING IN PRACTICE: SOURDOUGH BREAD
Other projects and ideas
The Barefoot College
Other alternative schools
EDUCATION IN A GIFT WORLD
13. Health and Sex
A personal anecdote
HEALTH OF THE EGOCENTRIC AND HOLISTIC SELVES
At what point do we stop?
Localised healthcare options
Elder – Sambucus nigra
Nettle – Urtica spp.
Dandelion – Taraxacum officinalis
Pot Marigold – Calendula officinalis
Garlic – Allium spp.
Peppermint – Mentha spp.
Thyme – Thymus spp.
Chamomile – Matricaria recutica
A selection of local remedies
Migraines and headaches
Other local forms of healthcare
Plasters for cuts
SPEAKING OF SEX
A SIMPLE CHOICE
14. Clothing and Bedding
Short-term clothing solutions
Clothes swapping and sharing evenings
Make do and mend
Long-term clothing solution
Hemp and Nettles
Braintanned roadkill buckskin
Peg loomed woollen underblankets
Learn to play (and make) an instrument
SOUNDS FROM THE UNCIVILISED
Painting, parties and booze
LOCAL BOOZE FOR FREE
Other fun stufff
Music, comedy and performance
FREE YOURSELF FROM YOUR MONETARY MASTERS
Note: I’ve put it under health because I think it’s a HUGE one for mental health.
This is how the act of watching TV destroys your brain.
Have you ever overheard an intense or heart-wrenching discussion only to find out the talkers were actually hashing out the lives of fictional TV characters? Do you ever wonder why people are so easily beguiled into trusting the talking heads?
It might not be such a mystery when you find out how easy it is for TV programming – the waves it emits, the storytelling – to override basic brain function and even damage your body.
Back in 1969, a man named Herbert Krugman conducted a series of experiments regarding the effect of television on a person’s brainwaves. What he found was pretty startling:
“Krugman monitored a person through many trials and found that in less than one minute of television viewing, the person’s brainwaves switched from Beta waves — brainwaves associated with active, logical thought — to primarily Alpha waves. When the subject stopped watching television and began reading a magazine, the brainwaves reverted to Beta waves.”
‘Beta’ is considered a normal, awake state, while ‘Alpha’ waves are experienced in a deep relaxation or ‘daydreaming’ state. When in the Alpha state, a person is subjected to a passive learning experience with the right side of the brain at the wheel, leaving critical thinking skills behind.
Jerry Mander also discussed the damages of unbridled technology like television in “Questions We Should Have Asked About Technology.” Even in the 1970s, he was arguing for the elimination of television. One of his reasons was the “death culture” – all the story lines, especially in the news were heading toward death obsession. Think about how that has changed in 40 years and what that does to already hopeless people? That’s entertainment?
Speaking of which, here is a video that shows how television affects your brain chemistry for the worst. Yes, the waves entrain your brain for the greatest suggestibility – but it gets worse. Your mind gets confused and derailed by the condensed and unrealistic story lines. The imagery creates plenty of stress hormones – like the constant release of adrenaline – but with no outlet because we consciously try to tell ourselves that it’s just a show. Apparently, the brain and body disagree.
Does that explain how TV creates an artificial “high” and addiction?
The Plug-In Drug is a book that explains your brain on television and computers in greater detail.
Have you given up television? What were the results, good or bad?
In a study cited in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with exercise. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with, the follow up assessments proved to be radically different:
The groups were then tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!
You don’t have to be depressed. It can help you to relax, increase your brain power and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.
Body weight, shape and body image were assessed in 16 males and 18 females before and after both 6 × 40 mins exercise and 6 × 40 mins reading. Over both conditions, body weight and shape did not change. Various aspects of body image, however, improved after exercise compared to before.
Exercise releases proteins and endorphins that make us feel happier, as you can see in the image below.
Sleep helps our bodies to recover from the day and repair themselves, and that it helps us focus and be more productive.
In NutureShock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explain how sleep affects our positivity:
Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.
In one experiment by Walker, sleep-deprived college students tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81% of the words with a negative connotation, like “cancer.” But they could remember only 31% of the words with a positive or neutral connotation, like “sunshine” or “basket.”
Another study proves sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. Using a facial recognition task over the course of a day, the researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative emotions. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive late in the day to negative emotions like fear and anger.
Using a face recognition task, here we demonstrate an amplified reactivity to anger and fear emotions across the day, without sleep. However, an intervening nap blocked and even reversed this negative emotional reactivity to anger and fear while conversely enhancing ratings of positive (happy) expressions.
Another study tested how employees’ moods when they started work in the morning affected their work day.
Researchers found that employees’ moods when they clocked in tended to affect how they felt the rest of the day. Early mood was linked to their perceptions of customers and to how they reacted to customers’ moods.
And most importantly to managers, employee mood had a clear impact on performance, including both how much work employees did and how well they did it.
Shorter commutes to work
According to The Art of Manliness, having a long commute is something we often fail to realize will affect us so dramatically:
… while many voluntary conditions don’t affect our happiness in the long term because we acclimate to them, people never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it’s not. Or as Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it, “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.”
We tend to try to compensate for this by having a bigger house or a better job, but these compensations just don’t work:
Two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not make up for the misery created by a long commute.
Spend time with loved ones
Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying. If you want more evidence that it’s beneficial for you, I’ve found some research that proves it can make you happier right now.
Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel, generally.
Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert explains it perfectly:
We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.
George Vaillant is the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men.
In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
The men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defenses. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.
A study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics states than your relationships are worth more than $100,000:
Using the British Household Panel Survey, I find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.
Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness. So we could increase our annual income by hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not be as happy as if we increased the strength of our social relationships.
The Terman study, which is covered in The Longevity Project, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives:
We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest.
Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbours, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.
Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory…
Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.
Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.
The American Meteorological Society published research in 2011 that found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity, or even the average temperature over the course of a day. It also found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air.
…when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities—such as concerts and group dinners out—brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. Spending money on other people, called “prosocial spending,” also boosts happiness.
The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study that explored this very topic:
Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future.
Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the German reunion, the first wave of data of the GSOEP was collected in East Germany. Volunteering was still widespread. Due to the shock of the reunion, a large portion of the infrastructure of volunteering (e.g. sports clubs associated with firms) collapsed and people randomly lost their opportunities for volunteering. Based on a comparison of the change in subjective well-being of these people and of people from the control group who had no change in their volunteer status, the hypothesis is supported that volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.
…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.
Smiling itself can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:
A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital – improve their mood and withdraw less.
Of course it’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. It’s very easy to spot the difference:
According to PsyBlog, smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:
Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.
Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly (this is one example of embodied cognition).
As opposed to actually taking a holiday, it seems that planning a vacation or just a break from work can improve our happiness. A study published in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Lifeshowed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as employees enjoyed the sense of anticipation:
In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.
After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.
Shawn Achor has some info for us on this point, as well:
One study found that people who just thought about watching their favourite movie actually raised their endorphins levels by 27 percent.
If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.
In one study, a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brain scans of 16 people before and after they participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. The study, published in the January issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, concluded that after completing the course, parts of the participants’ brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.
This graphic explains it the best:
According to Shawn Achor, meditation can actually make you happier long-term:
Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you.
In an experiment where some participants took note of things they were grateful for each day, their moods were improved just from this simple practice:
The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
The Journal of Happiness studies published a study that used letters of gratitude to test how being grateful can affect our levels of happiness:
Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period.
Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms.
Last fact: Getting older will make yourself happier
As we get older, particularly past middle age, we tend to grow happier naturally. There’s still some debate over why this happens, but scientists have got a few ideas:
Researchers, including the authors, have found that older people shown pictures of faces or situations tend to focus on and remember the happier ones more and the negative ones less.
Other studies have discovered that as people age, they seek out situations that will lift their moods — for instance, pruning social circles of friends or acquaintances who might bring them down. Still other work finds that older adults learn to let go of loss and disappointment over unachieved goals, and hew their goals toward greater wellbeing.
So if you thought being old would make you miserable, rest assured that it’s likely you’ll develop a more positive outlook than you probably have now.
FORM recently held a two-and-a-half day symposium called PUBLIC (also sponsored by our partners at RAC). A major theme was cities and how to change them, and speakers from all over the world participated, from both within and outside government. One of these, the keynote speaker, was a man named Enrique Peñalosa.
Peñalosa was Mayor of Bogotá in Columbia from 1998-2001. In those three years, he participating in transforming his city from a pretty dire place, chaotic and full of slums, into something its citizens could be proud of. Much of this was achieved through changes in transport – by shifting the focus from individual motor vehicles, with the disproportionate amount of public space they take up, and focusing on other modes: buses, bikes and pedestrians.
For Peñalosa, footpaths are the difference between a developed and developing country. “The most crucial resource for a city is public pedestrian space,” he said in his speech during PUBLIC. “What makes the difference between an advanced or a backwards city is not subways or highways. It is quality footpaths.”
Peñalosa included cycling – which described in his speech as “a more efficient way of walking” – as an integral part of improved transport. To him, protected bikeways, like footpaths, are a matter of democracy: “It is a symbol that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally as important as one in a $30,000 car,” he said in his speech. “Are protected bikeways a right? I would think so, unless we think that only those with access to a motor vehicle have access to individual mobility.”
During his three-year term, Peñalosa made a number of changes to increase the number of cyclists in the city to balance out the number of cars. This was in 1998, when there were no cyclists in major cities like New York or London or Madrid, let alone in an 8 million person strong, vehicle-obsessed city like Bogotá. As in the Holland mentioned in a previous blog, cars had become a symbol of status in Bogotá; footpaths were clogged with illegally parked vehicles and rush hour was insane.
Bikes need infrastructure for people to use them, Peñalosa pointed out, and so he responded by building nearly 300kms of protected bikeways, stretching from the poorest slums to the richest neighbourhoods. He made these cycle-ways direct and he made them safe. “Is there any justification to have infrastructure allowing cars to move from A to B in a shorter route than a bicycle?” he asked. “When we build highways, we demolish everything to ensure they go the shortest way. But with bicycles we assume they’re doing it for the fun of it, so we make them weave all over the place.”
This change in infrastructure was the first step in bringing the number of cyclists in the city from nearly zero to the current number of over 700,000. Peñalosa admits that this is still not enough in a city of 8 million, and the city is in no way a cyclist’s paradise, but it has been a very definite start.
Additionally, Bogotá has Ciclovía, which Peñalosa didn’t initiate, but which was expanded under his watch. Ciclovía happens every Sunday in Bogotá, from 7am to 2pm, when over 120km of major roads are blocked off from motor vehicle traffic. Similar to the Netherland’s Car Free Sundays in the 70s, it’s a day when people can move safely around their city by bicycle, and have entire roadways to do so. It’s a way of sharing the roadways, and returning a balance to transport.
PUBLIC Symposium’s speakers provided a huge number of examples of ways they are improving things, but clear themes emerged. One of these included ways in which we should improve the use of public space, to make it community driven, open and personal. The humble bicycle cropped up a lot. As a mode of transport, most speakers agreed: bikes are an integral part of making our cities better.
I get it, things are bad, but what are we doing to fix it? – Tomorrowland
So towards the end of 2015 I went a little crazy with posting cat videos to ‘saturate’ my page and I actually saturated it pretty well. Every problem I see folks posting or talking about… I have the same question which is why I’ve created a solutions category on my blog now.
My 2016 wish – for people with a passion for their causes to posts and share less of what is wrong in the world and more on what THEY are doing to fix it and inspire others.