Happiness Manifesto

Putting the BF’s new Kindle to good use, I downloaded and read Nic MarksHappiness Manifesto (part of the TED Shorts, from the good people at TED, who are now publishing these short books/essays). 

Nic talks about the flaws in using GDP to measure how well we’re doing and about developing a new measure to replace it which looks at both happiness as well as sustainability (how can we be happy now if we know we can’t be tomorrow because we’re doing it in an unsustainable way, both economically and environmentally?). 

The Happiness Manifesto itself consists of 5 actions that each and every one of us can use in our lives to become happier:

  1. Connect. Connect with people around you, friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, etc. Nourish and cultivate both thick and thin relationships.
  2. Be active. Walk, run, skip, jump, dance, play football, hockey or rugby, in short: get moving! 
  3. Take notice. Be curious, remark on the unusual, notice things around you, the changing seasons. Savour the moment. Be aware of the world around you and how you’re feeling.  
  4. Keep learning. Try something new, sign up for a course. ‘Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun’. 
  5. Give. Volunteer, do something nice for someone. ‘Look out as well as in’. 

Next are 7 areas for government to focus on:

  1. Create good work
  2. Reform our financial systems
  3. Develop flourishing schools
  4. Promote complete health
  5. Engage with citizens
  6. Build good foundations
  7. Measure what matters.

I love the quotes by Robert Kennedy in the text, especially where Robert Kennedy implores government to start measuring everything ‘which makes life worthwhile’. 

Another interesting insight is that happy people are more entrepreneurial, flexible and creative, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to promote happiness in the hope that we can find good solutions to the problems we’re facing. If you project doom scenarios, people’s reactions are of fear, and fleeing, which won’t do anything to solve the problem. Good point I think. 

To top it all off, here’s a quote which sums it up nicely:

We urgently need a positive vision of our future. We need to stimulate people not to run away but instead to engage, to have compassion, to be creative and innovative.

Design and MBA

Here’s something I wrote about 2 years ago: 

An MBA teaches you to take an idea and make it into a business. Assess its viability, finance it, market it, make it work from an operational perspective, lead the team to do it. But what they don’t teach you is where ideas come from. D-schools are great for that. You are encouraged to have lots of ideas all the time. You take the most promising ones, iterate, prototype et voila, there’s your final idea. But that idea might be a good idea, but not a good business. And that’s where design education stops. I want to bring the best of both worlds together in a way that combines the best of both and create a better model. A better model for solving problems in a business context. 

I would add to that now: create businesses, products and services that are sustainable and make the world better, more beautiful and more joyful. 


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This building, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, inspired me beyond expectation in 2010.  We went to Bilbao expecting to like it and spend a few hours, but ended up becoming mesmerised by the building (and it didn’t hurt we slept with … Continue reading

I’ve got 2 words for you

I’ve got 2 words for you in 2011: enjoy and project. Normally I’m not big on resolutions for the new year, though I have been known in the past to use my birthday to reflect on the past year and look forward into the coming one. But this year, somehow the stars are aligned and I’ve taken a good look at what worked and what didn’t in 2010 and what the themes/resolutions for 2011 are.

The first theme for 2011 is ENJOY. I often forget along the way why I’m doing the things I do, and forget to enjoy them. And I’m working hard to a) create more enjoyment (taking a leaf out of the happiness-positive-psychology books: new experiences bring happiness) and b) take more enjoyment in the things I do, from washing the dishes (great moment to share with my beau, or to contemplate life in general) to big things (finishing up my degree, or working on a project). 

And talk about projects, that’s my second theme: PROJECT. In all my working life, I’ve always been a consultant, and part of that is because I’ve realised that I’m crap at minding the store. There ain’t nothing wrong with keeping things running, but I do well when I’m creating something new. So for 2011 I resolve to a) create more projects, big and small, and b) see more of the things I do as projects. 

It’s an adventure. A zone 1 tube adventure!

I have no idea why, but for a while there I’d been thinking about how cool it would be to visit all the London zone 1 tube stops in 1 day. I’d read about the Tube Challenge (visiting all the tube stops on the network in 1 day), but that felt like too much of a hectic trek. Plus, once I started thinking about it, I’d been to most zone 1 tube stations at some point before, and it seemed eminently do-able to visit them all in 1 day, wouldn’t it be great to go to all the zone 1 tube stations in a day? Yes it would!

Mr G, my partner in crime, devised the route, tested parts of it out, and in March 2010 we set off for our first station: Notting Hill Gate. We came up with the rules ourself: we would visit every single zone 1 tube station that was open (and we picked a Saturday with least tube closures), get off the tube, take a picture, run upstairs, leave the station, take another pic, run back down and go to the next station. 

We visited 61 stations with 64 journeys (mr G did a great job planning all of this!), Warren Street and Cannon Street were closed, and it took us just under 12 hours, which included a couple of coffee/comfort breaks and a lunchbreak. The route was customised specifically to accomodate the station closures that day, so if you’re trying this, it might not be the best route. We started at Notting Hill Gate because it’s the closest station to us, and ended at Knightsbridge. 

I was shattered at the end: you can’t really do much in the on average 60-120 seconds it takes to get from one station to the next except for chat and the running up and down the stairs took its toll on my knees. But man, what a great experience! 

Lessons learned:

  • you don’t need a good reason to do something like this. People kept on asking ‘why?’, and I kept on saying ‘why not?’
  • a partner-in-crime makes all the difference: planning, scheming, going on a trial run, keeping each other company, keeping each other sane. I couldn’t have done it without G
  • keep remembering it’s fun. Even when you’re knees hurt and it all seems a bit non-sensical, it’s still fun.
  • creating a book afterwards (which G did using Blurb.com) made sure we can easily relive our good memories. 


Fit is the most important part of Appropriatism. This means clothes, technology, work relationships, projects, and anything else you can jam through this way of reasoning. Why is fit so important? Because a good fit means that there’s an understanding of what’s suitable.

Bad fits make us curmudgeonly. We loathe what we have because it’s not quite right. It injects friction needlessly into processes we wish were fluid. A bad fit restricts movement, and life is about movement.

Frank Chimero, on fit and appropriateness


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This is me, ice skating. Well, something that resembles ice skating. I’m not terribly good at it, have never really tried because I was scared of failing and falling. But 2011 will be the year of failing, a little falling, … Continue reading


“Above all, think of life as a prototype. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, and change our perspectives. We can look for opportunities to turn processes into projects that have tangible outcomes. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create whether they take the form of a fleeting experience or an heirloom that will last for generations.

We can learn that reward comes in creation and re-creation, no just in the consumption of the world around us. Active participation in the process of creation is our right and our privilege. We can learn to measure the sucess of our ideas not by our bank accounts but by their impact in the world.”

Reverb 2010: Day 3, Moment

Prompt no 3: Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

We were right on time, and the second table to arrive, at what for Spanish people is the ridiculously early hour of half past 8. And that night, we had the most brilliant dinner I’ve ever had. Every dish challenged what I knew for sure about food (potatoes looking like pebbles, the porkiest-tasting pork I ever ate, suds for dessert), and though there were a couple of dishes that I wasn’t totally enamored with, our tasting menu at Mugaritz was amazing. From the loveliness of the staff, the meticulousness of the interior design (stool for the ladies’ handbag anyone?), to the seemingly never-ending ebb and flow of dishes, one more intriguing than the previous one, it was a marvelous evening. And what a birthday gift!