The 16 Habits of Exuberant Human Beings, by Kate Bratskeir

Greetings Happy Experimenters!

Thought you might like to see this great article about exuberance – well worth a read:

The 16 Habits of Exuberant Human Beings, by Kate Bratskeir.

And if you want to know what the ’16 habits’ are in a nutshell, here they are. (Except there’s actually 21, but we won’t quibble!)

  1. Surround yourself with other happy people
  2. Smile when you mean it
  3. Cultivate resilience
  4. Try to be happy
  5. Be mindful of the good
  6. Appreciate simple pleasures
  7. Devote some time to giving
  8. Let yourself lose track of time
  9. Nix small talk for deeper conversations
  10. Spend money on others
  11. Make a point to listen
  12. Uphold in-person connections
  13. Look on the bright side
  14. Value a good mix-tape!
  15. Unplug
  16. Get spiritual
  17. Make exercise a priority
  18. Go outside
  19. Spend some time on the pillow (or sofa)
  20. LOL (laugh out loud)
  21. Walk confidently



“I wish I’d let myself be happier”

My lovely niece Anna has just sent me this great article which documents the top 5 regrets of the dying. Points 1 and 5, Anna said in her email, seem to sum up the spirit of this blog completely. I can’t help but agree!

(For the full article click here)

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”


Let’s make it our mission to live with no regrets. Agreed?



Pleasure isn’t everything

I found this on the New York Times website. I love this idea that sometimes, paradoxically, happiness comes from a seeming willingness to put our pleasures on hold (e.g. when we have children!) As it says here, it’s about degrees of happiness though. Pleasure comes second to meaningfulness and relationship.

A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness

Published: May 16, 2011

“In his 2008 book, “Gross National Happiness,” Dr. Brooks argues that what’s crucial to well-being is not how cheerful you feel, not how much money you make, but rather the meaning you find in life and your sense of “earned success” — the belief that you have created value in your life or others’ lives.

“People find meaning in providing unconditional love for children,” writes Dr. Brooks, who is now president of the American Enterprise Institute. “Paradoxically, your happiness is raised by the very fact that you are willing to have your happiness lowered through years of dirty diapers, tantrums and backtalk. Willingness to accept unhappiness from children is a source of happiness.

Some happiness researchers have suggested that parents delude themselves about the joys of children: They focus on the golden moments and forget the more frequent travails. But Dr. Seligman says that parents are wisely looking for more than happy feelings.

“If we just wanted positive emotions, our species would have died out a long time ago,” he says. “ We have children to pursue other elements of well-being. We want meaning in life. We want relationships.”

In observing people’s need for accomplishment, Dr. Seligman says, he’s reminded of his early experiments that famously identified the concept of “learned helplessness.” He found that when animals or people were given a series of arbitrary punishments or rewards, they stopped trying to do anything constructive.

“We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being,” he said. “It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”

To avoid that sort of malaise, Dr. Seligman recommends looking at the basic elements of well-being, identifying which ones matter most to you, setting goals and monitoring progress. Simply keeping track of how much time you spend daily pursuing each goal can make a difference, he says, because it’s easy to see discrepancies between your goals and what you do.”



A different way of surveying happiness

So David Cameron’ first results are back from his survey into  the nation’s happiness:

See the results here

In a nutshell – the majority of people (76%) rate their happiness in the UK as around 7 out of 10.


  • People who were unemployed reported lower levels on average compared with those who were employed
  • Married people are happier than single or divorced people
  • Teens and pensioners are more content with their lives than those in their late-30s

Nothing too startling here but one does have to wonder about that statistic of 76% rating their happiness as around 7 out of 10. Is this not a reflection of that typical northern hemisphere conversation:

“Good morning Mr Smith and how are you?”

“Fine, thank you. Can’t complain.”

I think most people really wouldn’t admit to feelings of happiness to someone that they don’t know that well. Also this ‘mustn’t grumble’ approach is one knocked into us from a young age:

  • ‘Stiff upper lip’
  • ‘Count your blessings – there are thousands more unfortunate than you’.
  • ‘Don’t be selfish’ etc. etc.

It makes for very dodgy happiness measuring, if you ask me.

What I’d like Mr Cameron to do is to hit the streets and ask:

  • Do you feel you are following your passions?
  • Would you say you are on track to fulfilling your full potential?

I’ve mentioned it before but I love Dan Pink’s measure of fulfillment:-

AUTONOMY  – feeling that we are in charge of our own destiny

MASTERY – experiencing ourselves getting better and better at something

PURPOSE – sensing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves

(See his TED speech here).

They should ask this question too – “how much do you feel you have Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in your life?” Give each a percentage rating.

It would at least get people thinking.