Midweek chill out
We are life coaches and financial coaches here at Living Money. We want to do what we can to help you (whether you are a client of ours or not) to be happy, wealthy and effective.
This isn't easy if you are stressed, so take a few moments out with our midweek chill out, a short piece of laughter, music and something to help you think, for a while, about something completely different.
(There is an explanation for the science behind the laughs at the end of this post.)
Laugh out loud
Today is the birthday of Charles Mackay, born in Perth (Scotland, not Australia). Mackay was a journalist and author, although was also well known in his time as a songwriter and poet. He was evidently a bit of a wag and a romantic, prone to conjecture and exaggeration.
He is remembered for his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, an early study of crowd psychology. He analysed three financial manias or economic bubbles: the South Sea Company bubble, the Mississippi Company bubble, and the early seventeenth-century Dutch tulip mania.
It is this last that provides material this week for a bit of a laugh. As tulip mania took hold, the price of tulip bulbs skyrocketed to unimaginable levels. The story goes, as Mackay tells it, that the bubble burst when one collector in Holland paid a fortune for a bulb. Happily, he took it home and put it on the table whilst heading off in search of a celebratory drink. His cook, passing by the table, saw the bulb and taking it for an onion, removed it to the kitchen, peeled and diced it and used it to produce the world’s most expensive meal for his master.
Whilst some economists today praise Mackay for his economic analysis, it is worth noting he had a reputation as a great storyteller, and his journalism was often ‘sensationalist’ in style!
The magic of music
The Pursuit of Happiness, as interpreted by The Divine Comedy
Something to think about
The World Happiness Report was published this week. This is the 7th report and it provides a highly detailed statistical analysis of happiness throughout the world.
Finland comes out top this year, whilst the UK fares pretty well at 15.Hiowever, it is worth noting some of the similarities and differences between Finland and the UK.
Both countries have fairly similar GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. Corruption in the UK is a little higher than in Finland but remains low compared to some countries. Both countries get low scores for social support.
The differences occur in just two categories; however, they are significant and surprising.
Finland scores only 5 in the Freedom category, while the UK scores a very respectable 63. The other category of note is Generosity. Here, Finland scores 47 whilst the UK scores only 4.
Our freedom is governed by many external factors as well as our own perceptions. However, generosity comes purely from our hearts and is something that we have full control over.
Plenty of food for thought here, and the report itself is worth reading.
The science behind the laughs…
There is some good science behind all this. When you are in 'fight or flight' mode your adrenal glands secrete cortisol. This gives you the energy boost, reduced pain threshold and increased blood pressure to help you deal with the immediate situation. However, prolonged periods of high cortisol levels can have a distressing impact on your lifestyle and ability to perceive and understand your environment.
Cortisol release can be triggered by any number of stressful situations, including challenging work conditions, caffeine, a shortage of sleep, even travelling by train.
Researchers have found that laughter and music both help reduce stress hormones, hence our mid-week chill-out.
Seratonin is the neurotransmitter active in regulating your mood, appetite, sleep and memory. If cortisol is the stress hormone, then serotonin is the happy hormone!
Low levels of serotonin can result in feeling low, depression and anxiety. Keep serotonin levels up by eating bananas, dates, yoghurt, milk and seeds. Find the sun. Get a massage. Exercise and water are also important. Let your intuition tell you what your body needs to be happy and effective.
(With thanks to Amy Brann, neuroscientist and author)
Until next week…
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