Author Archives: K

How To Stay Productive Whilst Travelling

How do you stay productive whilst travelling?

By travelling slowly.

When you travel quickly you don’t have the time or energy to develop your morning and evening routines, to get good sleep, to build an exercise habit or to develop a healthy diet. What made you productive at home is what will make you productive away from home, and if you throw all that away by moving every week or two that’s just not going to happen.

Yes you can schedule work to do on a plane, catching up on reading books or listening to podcasts, but if that stuff was really important, you’d have already done it. Just because it keeps you busy, doesn’t mean it’s important.

The notion that you’ll even maintain 50% of your productivity whilst throwing away all your healthy, productive habits is a huge ask.

Travel slowly.

Travelling slowly is cheaper, less stressful, easier and way more productive.

You actually have time to find a great place to work, to find a good gym, to get a healthy meal, to build out a productive routine and also to experience the things a new country has to offer.

In addition to building out your productive habits, you can double down on your productivity tools. Delegate more. Do 80/20 analyses to even more ruthlessly prioritise. Batch like your life depended on it.

You can use your location to motivate you, tell yourself that if you finish XYZ project by ABC time, then you’ll allow yourself to go and do whatever cool thing that you now have the opportunity to do.

Use all the spare reflective moments you have on your trip to think about what you’re doing right and wrong at work and then take action.

Make better use of your free time to improve your general mood and energy levels accordingly.

There is no “staying productive” whilst travelling quickly, only “maintaining a fraction of ordinary productivity”

The choice is your’s.

What is Positive Psychology?

Most of Psychology focuses on what makes people depressed, anxious, lethargic and generally shitty. Whereas Positive Psychology focuses on what makes people happy, fulfilled and content.

Here’s a proper definition for you:

“Positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior with a focus on strengths instead of weakness, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and taking the lives of average people up to “great” instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to ‘normal'” (Peterson, 2008).

“…Positive Psychology is not to be confused with untested self-help, footless affirmation, or secular religion—no matter how good these may make us feel. Positive psychology is neither a recycled version of the power of positive thinking nor a sequel to The Secret.” (Peterson, 2008)

As a field, positive psychology spends much of its time thinking about topics like character strengths, optimism, life satisfaction, happiness, well-being, gratitude, compassion (as well as self-compassion), self-esteem and self-confidence, hope, and elevation.

These topics are studied in order to learn how to help people flourish and live their best lives.

Here are the results of some of the studies done in Positive Psychology:

– People overestimate the impact of money on their happiness by quite a lot. It does have some influence, but not nearly as much as we might think, so focusing less on attaining wealth will likely make you happier (Aknin, Norton, & Dunn, 2009).
– Spending money on experiences provides a bigger boost to happiness than spending money on material possessions (Howell & Hill, 2009).
– Gratitude is a big contributor to happiness in life, suggesting that the more we cultivate gratitude, the happier we will be (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005).
– Oxytocin may provoke greater trust, empathy, and morality in humans, meaning that giving hugs or other shows of physical affection may give you a big boost to your overall well-being (and the well-being of others; Barraza & Zak, 2009).
– Those who intentionally cultivate a positive mood to match the outward emotion they need to display (i.e., in emotional labor) benefit by more genuinely experiencing the positive mood. In other words, “putting on a happy face” won’t necessary make you feel happier, but putting in a little bit of effort likely will (Scott & Barnes, 2011).
– Happiness is contagious; those with happy friends and significant others are more likely to be happy in the future (Fowler & Christakis, 2008).
– People who perform acts of kindness towards others not only get a boost in well-being, they are also more accepted by their peers (Layous, Nelson, Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, & Lyubomirsky, 2012).
– Volunteering time to a cause you believe in improves your well-being and life satisfaction and may even reduce symptoms of depression (Jenkinson et al., 2013).
– Spending money on other people results in greater happiness for the giver (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008).

The PERMA Model

One of the popular models in Positive Psychology, is the PERMA Model. The PERMA model was designed by Psychologist Martin Seligman with five core element of psychological well-being and happiness. Seligman believes that these five elements can help people reach a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning.

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If you’re interested in living a happier life, Positive Psychology can provide a lot of very useful information to help you on that path, and it’s for that reason that I’m very interested to learn more!

Will Having Children Make You Miserable?

baby
Will having children make you miserable?

Will not having children make you miserable?

Will having children make you happier?

Will not having children make your happier?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a clear-cut answer, because although there’s been tonnes of scientific research on this subject, there are so very many factors that come into play which makes getting an overall measurement so difficult and as a result, some studies say overall: yes, some say overall: no. It depends on how you measure it and which variables you do or don’t control for. Fortunately, there are some useful takeaways I have found from the research, I’ll list them below.

Being poor, unmarried, divorced or having an unplanned pregnancy leads to greater depression

Minton & Pasley (1996)

Divorced fathers reported feeling less competent and less satisfied than nondivorced fathers but perceived the father role to be more salient.

Cunningham & Knoester (2007)

Single parents reported higher rates of depression and alcohol abuse than married parents.

Keeton, Perry-Jenkins, & Sayer (2008)

For mothers, higher levels of depression 6 months into parenthood were predicted by having less family income, being married, and having unplanned pregnancies. For fathers, higher levels of depression 6 months into parenthood were predicted by low family income and being unmarried. Working a greater number of hours predicted increases in depression for fathers. Increases in sense of control significantly predicted declines in parents’ depression over time.

Having a child with a “difficult” temperament increases rates of depression in parents

Cutrona & Troutman (1986)

Child’s difficult temperament was associated with lower parental self-efficacy and higher rates of depression.

Fatherhood can make you happier and sadder at the same time

Chalmers & Meyer (1996)

Fathers reported greater happiness, pride, excitement, and being loved after the birth of their child than during pregnancy.
Fathers also reported heightened difficulties after the birth of their child, including insufficient sleep, difficulty calming their child, sexual problems, worries about the future, and coping with visitors.

Holding traditional views about the division of labor made for happier husbands but unhappier wives

L. K. White, Booth, & Edwards (1986)

The presence of children had a significant negative effect on marital happiness. Holding traditional views about the division of labor was positively related to husbands’ marital happiness but negatively related to wives’ marital happiness.

Having greater social support decreases depression

Bost, Cox, & Payne (2002)

Parents who reported greater social support reported less depression across the transition to parenthood.

Childless elders aren’t psychologically worse off

According to a 2010 study in Aging and Mental Health:

“Compared to parents, childless elders with a disability generally do not receive less care or have worse psychological well-being.”

Summary

The best study to read to get a sense of all this, is this meta-analysis:

“Some parents, such as those who are young, are single, have relatively young children, have children with problems, or are noncustodial parents, experience relatively low levels of happiness.
By contrast, fathers, married parents, and parents who are older at the birth of their first child experience relatively high levels of well-being”

So, from a happiness point of view, should you have children? Well, if you’re lacking in age, social supports, money and a marriage that looks like it will last another 40 years… it would seem that your best bet would be to get those things before having children as otherwise they will probably make you unhappier.

But It strikes me that a lot of the benefits people experience from parenting, people could experience without parenting. A greater sense of pride and purpose could be achieved through being a more active member of your community, volunteering more or getting a more meaningful job, for example. And the greater pleasure experienced from spending time with a child could instead be spent on other activities one enjoys, especially since parents ranked spending time with children as only their 9th most pleasurable experience.

So is parenthood a death sentence to your happiness? Not if you’re a bit older, have social supports, money, a marriage that will withstand the hurricane that is children, and provided your child doesn’t have a “difficult” temperament and  that it was actually planned.

And is non-parenthood a death sentence to your happiness? Not if you get your sense of purpose and fun from other activities.