Friday, July 23, 2010

Flipping The Happy Switch

Is happiness a state of mind? Or is it perhaps a side effect of a fortunate situation?

Do you choose happiness or does happiness choose you? Is it a fleeting moment that catches you by surprise in an otherwise mundane day or do we have the ability to tap into a stash hidden within? For example, have you ever had just an awesome night out with a friend, more fun than you had expected to have? Perhaps you stayed out too late, maybe even had a bit too much to drink (Who me? Never!). The next day you find yourself really worn out from not getting enough sleep and perhaps that last glass of wine has made that overhead office light just a bit too bright and yet… you have a permagrin stuck on your face anyway. It’s not that you have the most perfect job ever, or that some insane driver didn’t cut you off on the highway this morning, or that a bunch of voicemails and emails hadn’t developed overnight and jumped on to the already teetering work load that was left behind with a wary eye yesterday. No, it’s just that the time you spent having such fun the night before not only filled up your “satisfaction tank”, it over filled it, leaving you with a reservoir of happiness to tap in to. So even on a day that may normally send you into a tailspin of frustration or an office-door-shut-to-protect-the-innocent mode, you instead find yourself able to draw upon the well of satisfaction within; to supplement your mood; to fend off the impending negativity that you would so easily be able to accept on another day. Awesome. But I wonder, how much of this happiness is really because you spent time out doing something great last night? What I mean is, isn’t this really just a frame of mind. It’s like we only conditionally allow ourselves to be in that great, happy mood on occasion; like we are need an excuse. But really, I would argue that the dinner, the drinks, the dancing from 10pm last didn’t really flip our joy switch at 6am this morning. That was you. And you have that power every day. So here’s to flipping the switch more often and here are some stories about what went right in the world today to help you get that finger closer to the switch.

Atlanta: No more needles?! Researchers at Emory University and The Georgia Institute of Technology are working together to develop vaccine patches. The patches will have tiny, itty bitty, eensy weensy “microneedles” that only penetrate the top layer of skin. The idea is that people will be able to apply the patch themselves without the pain of an injection! Can you imagine? The researchers envision people being able to apply the patch at home: no more missing work or school, no more bribing and dragging hysterical kids into the doctors office…somebody pinch me -but don’t poke me with a darn needle! Another nice side effect – not so many left over needles to dispose of. Now that’s sharp (oh forgive me).

Gateshead, England: The Twitchhiker. Paul Smith realized one day, as he shopped at the grocery store, he would rather be traveling the world. And he was really into Twitter. Why not combine the two? That’s right, he became the self-dubbed “Twitchhiker” and traveled the globe relying on the kindness of fellow tweeters to help him along the way. He mapped out a basic itenierary with a start point in Europe and an enpoint taking him around to New Zealand. From there he sent out a message to his many twitter contacts asking if they could him complete the journey which would require him to never spend money or plot his exact next steps. It worked! Starting in Amsterdam, he traversed through European cities like Frankfurt, Saarbucken, and Paris. Then he hit the U.S. in places like New York, DC, Chicago, Witchta, Austin, San Fransisco, L.A. and then on to New Zealand. All of this as a guest in homes, cars and planes that provided by fellow tweeters with no cost to Paul and in completed in less than 30 days.

Soweto, South Africa: Soccer Balls for All! Just recovering from the World Cup, the country of South Africa as well as the 52 other countries in Africa are still in a Soccer craze. In recognition of the fervor and in recognition of the poverty afflicting so many African children FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) has launched the “One Million Dream Balls for Africa” project. FIFA will provide the one million balls to NGO’s to distribute throughout all 53 countries over the next six months. The mission is to teach confidence, team work and life skills to children in great need.

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