Uplifting News
Work less, play more ~*~
Category: Uplifting News
Tags: Living work Jobs Humanity Wellbeing PositiveNews.org.uk


Work less, play more

Photo © Mike McCune


The 40-hour work week is an ingrained part of our culture, but it does very little to enrich our lives. Lucy Purdy explores alternative working models that do away with the idea of the nine-to-five


Time is perhaps the most precious commodity of all. While we can buy more possessions and work new jobs, we can never make more time or recapture what has already been spent. But considering how much work dominates our lives, we question concepts around working and time relatively little.

While paid employment can provide security, for many, jobs are a means of putting “food on the table” within a work culture that feels more enslaving than natural or joyful. But now there is growing recognition that traditional working patterns no longer serve us. More and more people are searching for freedom from bosses, wages, commuting and consuming, seeking instead the lives we truly want to lead.

Today’s working model stems largely from the Industrial Revolution, whose architects convinced the masses of the importance of disciplined hard work. Rising early to toil all day for others was considered a virtue and this began to form part of the national consciousness. Families started to rely on their wages alone, buying in the food they had previously grown themselves, and work which was governed by the seasons, weather and necessity was replaced with standardised employment. The shift didn’t go unnoticed – poet William Blake was among those criticising the “cogs tyrannic” – but it established a narrow blueprint for a “dutiful citizen” which is largely still accepted today.
While capitalism was supposed to save society from having to labour as much, we have never worked more.

But now people are speaking out anew. The gift and sharing economies have grown in response to a system which means many people feel they’re unable to give what they want because “there’s no money in it”. While corporations have long used our money, skills, lives and arguably even relationships and health to build their businesses, many people are now seeking alternative routes toward financially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually rewarding lives.

“More and more people are searching for freedom from bosses, wages, commuting and consuming, seeking instead the lives we truly want to lead.”

Institutions are experimenting with change, too. The city council in the Swedish city of Gothenburg has trialled a programme of six-hour working days, hoping the move could create a healthier and happier workforce. In Japan – where a culture of overwork is particularly ingrained – the government is considering making it a legal requirement for workers to take more days of paid holiday each year.

And in the UK, a YouGov survey last year found that 57 percent of workers would support a four-day week, something championed by the New Economics Foundation. It says a ‘normal’ 40-hour week is neither natural nor inevitable and insists a shorter, more flexible working week would be good for people, the environment and the economy too.

At the same time, the size of the self-employed workforce in the UK has soared. Self-employed people now account for a record 15 percent of the workforce, totalling more than 4.6m people. While some argue this shift stems from people being unable to find full-time jobs, other surveys suggest people have deliberately chosen this route.

If our needs are to play, love, create and to connect with others and with nature, there seems to be a renewed effort to ask how we can nurture them. How could we better devote our energy and time to the areas of life that work – and money – cannot reach?


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Good news for improving your relationships
Category: Uplifting News
Tags: Portugal addiction Relationships World Wellbeing PositiveNews.org.uk


Good news for improving your relationships


Photo © Flickr

Sharing in others’ good news and being open to criticism are key to better relationships, explains our positive psychology columnist, Chris Johnstone


Back in the 1960s, a popular approach to couples therapy involved using soft-foam rubber bats to hit each other. Partners would be encouraged to take turns voicing their resentments, using the rubber bats to physically express this. The idea was that by releasing suppressed anger, they’d clear the air and be freed to start anew.

Decades of research later, we now know this isn’t such a good idea. While naming our hurts allows issues to be recognised, battling over issues, even with rubber bats, brings a greater danger of fuelling hostility. So if ‘basho-therapy’ doesn’t work, what does?

It turns out that one of the best ways to improve relationships has lots to do with how we respond to good news. Psychologist Shelly Gable videotaped dating couples discussing recent events in their lives. She found that the way people responded to their partner telling them good news could either boost or weaken feelings of closeness.

Gable identified three types of response that had damaging effects: ignoring the good news; acknowledging it but with dampened enthusiasm; or, worst of all, pointing out reasons why the good news might really be bad news. Each of these dropped the level of trust and enthusiasm in the relationship.

If the partner showed interest and delight in the good news, however, this had the opposite effect. Couples with this response not only reported higher levels of satisfaction with their relationship, they were also more likely to still be together two months later.

There’s a saying that a friend is someone who looks over your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden. When we look at friends or partners, we have choices about which aspects of them, or our relationship with them, we give our attention to. Do we focus on what’s going well and comment on that? Or point out the problems? While both have their place, research shows that the balance between them makes a huge difference to the quality of our relationships.

Through decades of close observation of couples interacting, psychologist John Gottman and his team mapped out factors important for relationship wellbeing. They found that expressions of fondness and admiration have a protective effect, helping build the trust and affection that give relationships staying power.

In contrast, couples whose conversations often included putdowns and statements of contempt were much more likely to break up. By identifying these and other predictors of relationship success or failure, Gottman’s team could study a 15-minute conversation between a couple, and then predict with over 90% accuracy whether they’d still be together five years later.

Alongside expressions of contempt, other markers of relationship danger were defensiveness or ‘stonewalling’ in response to criticism. A feature of healthier relationships (ie ones rated as more satisfying and that lasted over the study period of two decades) was openness and curiosity when concerns or criticism were raised.

If we know what’s important for the other person, we’re better able to take their preferences into account. Conflict can alert us to misunderstanding, it can be an opportunity to update awareness of what’s important to each other. But to learn from conflict like this requires openness and trust. All the appreciations and other positive comments help build the ground for this. That’s why, in successful relationships, people tend to give each other more positive than negative comments by a ratio of at least three to one.

So when your friend, partner or colleague next tells you something they’re pleased about, remember that positive news, and your response to it, gives you an opportunity to nourish closeness. If you can be glad that they’re glad, and show that, you give your relationship a boost.


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Author: Chris Johnstone


Portugal addiction rates halved after community, not jail, is trialled as solution
Category: Uplifting News
Tags: Portugal addiction community Europe Wellbeing PositiveNews.org.uk


Portugal addiction rates halved after community, not jail, is trialled as solution

Portuguese minister for health, Ana Jorge, on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in 2010  
   Photo © Nuno Saraiva


02 Apr 2015

UK politicians have been urged to decriminalise the use and possession of most drugs after addiction rates in Portugal were cut by half following decriminalisation in the country almost 15 years ago

Instead of being jailed, drug users in Portugal were encouraged to reconnect with their feelings and the wider community.

Since then, the number of people addicted to heroin has halved and rates of HIV infection and drug-related deaths have decreased.

Back in the 1990s “we feared that Portugal could turn into a paradise for drug users,” Dr Jaoa Goulao, Portugal’s national co-ordinator on drugs and drug addiction, told the BBC.

“Thanks to the policy, that didn’t happen.”

Around 25 countries have removed criminal penalties for the personal possession of some or all drugs as part of a global trend away from punitive drug policies.




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