The secrets of the worlds happiest cities 5k,how to change my last name with dmv,meditation vacation ideas - For Begninners


The French-born Ricard earned a doctorate in molecular biology in the 1960s while also studying Buddhism. At the end of the day, the people who spent the money on themselves were no more or less happy than they were originally. Of course, self-centered people who put themselves first may get what they want in an immediate sense, but that kind of happiness doesn't last, says Ricard.
Studies show that meditating for 20-25 minutes a day for just eights weeks has been proven to boost empathy and reduce stress.
Once the stressful thoughts pass, you'll be able to fill your mind with positivity and love. What makes a city a great place to live – your commute, property prices or good conversation? A few years earlier, this ride would have been a radical and – in the opinion of many Bogotans – suicidal act. In the third year of his term, Penalosa challenged Bogotans to participate in an experiment.
One memory from early in the journey has stuck with me, perhaps because it carries both the sweetness and the subjective slipperiness of the happiness we sometimes find in cities. Red Transmilenio buses pull into the Museum of Gold station in front of the 16th century Iglesia de San Francisco, Bogota’s oldest restored church. If one was to judge by sheer wealth, the last half-century should have been an ecstatically happy time for people in the US and other rich nations such as Canada, Japan and Great Britain. Just before the crash of 2008, a team of Italian economists, led by Stefano Bartolini, tried to account for that seemingly inexplicable gap between rising income and flatlining happiness in the US. As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. Their finding was seemingly straightforward: the longer the drive, the less happy people were. The sad part is that the more we flock to high?status cities for the good life – money, opportunity, novelty – the more crowded, expensive, polluted and congested those places become. When we talk about cities, we usually end up talking about how various places look, and perhaps how it feels to be there. Why would travelling more slowly and using more effort offer more satisfaction than driving?
Robert Thayer, a professor of psychology at California State University, fitted dozens of students with pedometers, then sent them back to their regular lives. The same is true of cycling, although a bicycle has the added benefit of giving even a lazy rider the ability to travel three or four times faster than someone walking, while using less than a quarter of the energy. In 1969, a consortium of European industrial interests charged a young American economist, Eric Britton, with figuring out how people would move through cities in the future. To demonstrate how radically urban systems can build freedom in motion, Britton led me down from his office, out on to Rue Joseph Bara. So if we really care about freedom for everyone, we need to design for everyone, not only the brave. Lindholm rolled off a list of statistics: more people that morning would travel by bicycle than by any other mode of transport (37%). The Bogota experiment may not have made up for all the city’s grinding inequities, but it was a spectacular beginning and, to the surprise of many, it made life better for almost everyone.
The TransMilenio moved so many people so efficiently that car drivers crossed the city faster as well: commuting times fell by a fifth. When you are a parent, it’s said that that you can only ever be as happy as your unhappiest child.
As a parenting author, it certainly seems that there are a few areas where, as a nation, we could turn over a new leaf.
It is therefore no surprise to discover one big trend for the coming year is an explosion in mindful apps and happiness classes designed for children. As youngsters spend more time on gadgets – the typical UK child owns between four and seven ranging from smart-phones to laptops – it’s tempting to want to stage a digital detox every bit as draconian as your Dry January. Indeed, a report released yesterday by Action for Children has found that 23 per cent of parents say they have trouble controlling their screen use. But although the latest research is showing that technology does not numb and isolate the next generation as much as we once feared, placing limits is still a must, especially as late-night gadget use is being implicated in sleep deprivation. In a study of 50 nations by Boston College in the US, British nine and ten-year-olds were getting the least sleep and researchers found that the problem of is worse in affluent countries likes ours because we are more likely to buy children technology and allow it in their bedrooms. By the time youngsters become teens, lack of sleep not only makes for bad-tempered mornings, but it also starts to damage mental health making children more prone to negative emotions like fear, anger, and depression. Parenting educator, Noel Janis-Norton, author of new book Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time, published next month (February) says although it may take determination, we must take a firmer line. Noel says: ‘‘Children being tired contributes to their low mood and irritability as well as decreased motivation, concentration and respect and also a tendency towards over-sensitivity. With one study published in the Journal of Sleep Research showing that teens are routinely getting only 7.5 hours of sleep, despite needing at least two hours more, this is now an issue that needs urgently addressing. On a list of developed nations, UK parents come behind every single European country for eating the main meal of the day with our youngsters.
Yet eating together regularly is about much more than simply sharing a meal with a growing number of studies finding a direct link between the number of family meals and a child’s emotional well-being and even school achievement.
It includes findings published in the Journal of Adolescent Health that family dinners are a ritual which give youngsters a sense of belonging and security. When the Children’s Society asked youngsters what made their childhood happy, friendship was the factor they mentioned most often. Yet according to the latest global data, British school children have some of the most fraught social relationships of all.
One reason suggested for this is that we are among the biggest consumers of reality TV and competition based TV in the world. The earlier you discuss the complex politics of friendships and question king pin and judgmental behaviour the better. This has long led British parents tend to complain that they don’t have enough proper time with their kids.
Now that the law says that any parent with a child of 17 or under can apply for flexible working,  it means maybe 2016 should be the year we resolve to work more around the children – and for fewer hours. Indeed in Sweden, the government is trialling six hours days for employees in some departments because it suspects that while a  shorter working day will make little difference to productivity, it will have a big impact on family harmony and so the wellbeing of their staff. With the average child’s Christmas list adding up to ?900, it’s likely that you could be facing a hefty credit bill this month.  Two generations ago, a child might have owned a handful of treasured toys.


Instead research has found they will be more satisfied with their  lives if we train them to appreciate what they already have – and it is possible to teach them gratitude. Afterwards, the students who noted the good things still reporting feeling happier with their lives than their peers and it is now seen as a useful everyday tool to get children to focus on what they do have, rather than what they don’t.
Tanith Carey is author of Taming the Tiger Parent and Girls Uninterrupted, Steps for Building Stronger Girls in a Challenging world, published by Little Brown and Icon. The 66-year-old turned his back on Parisian intellectual life 40 years ago and moved to India to study Buddhism. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the monk’s skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, allowing him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity. He believes meditation can alter the brain and improve people’s happiness in the same way that lifting weights puts on muscle.
Mattieu Ricard has spoken about The Art of Meditation in a video hosted by the charity RSA. Meanwhile, the people who spent the money on others were significantly happier than they were originally. They're soon miserable again, with new reasons to put themselves first and so the cycle continues. He compares it to doing physical exercise for 10 or 15 minutes, or any other process you have to gradually get into. If you wanted to be assaulted, asphyxiated by exhaust fumes or run over, the city’s streets were the place to be.
The United Nations had just announced that some day in the following months, one more child would be born in an urban hospital or a migrant would stumble into a metropolitan shantytown, and from that moment on, more than half the world’s people would be living in cities. The day-long ban on all private car traffic on the city’s streets forces residents to use public transportation or bicycles to get to and from work. One of them, a bright-eyed 10-year-old, pushed a miniature version of Penalosa’s bicycle through the crowd. I let go of my handlebars and raised my arms in the air of the cooling breeze, and I remembered my own childhood of country roads, after-school wanderings, lazy rides and pure freedom. The question deserves consideration, because the happy city message is taking root around the world. And yet the boom decades of the late 20th century were not accompanied by a boom in wellbeing. The more connected we are to family and community, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45-minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce. Before you dismiss this as numbingly obvious, keep in mind that they were testing not for drive satisfaction, but for life satisfaction. However, it is much easier to adapt to things that stay constant than to things that change. But to stop there misses half the story, because the way we experience most parts of cities is at velocity: we glide past on the way to somewhere else. Over the course of 20 days, the volunteers answered survey questions about their moods, attitudes, diet and happiness. They may not all attain Judge’s level of transcendence, but cyclists report feeling connected to the world around them in a way that is simply not possible in the sealed environment of a car, bus or train. Cities should strive to embrace complexity, not only in transportation systems but in human experience, says Britton, who is still working in that field and lives in Paris. Anyone who is really serious about building freedom in their cities eventually makes the pilgrimage to Copenhagen. If you didn’t count the suburbs, the percentage of cyclists in Copenhagen would hit 55%. The TransMilenio system is plagued by desperate crowding as its private operators fail to add more capacity – yet more proof that robust public transport needs sustained public investment. So considering how we feel is so intimately bound up with our kids, it follows that the easiest way to have a better 2016 is to draw up resolutions to improve their well-being. Last year’s Good Childhood Report by the Children’s Society found that ten to 12 year olds in England ranked 14th out of 15 nations for happiness, behind Germany, Spain and South Africa.
But there are other, often simpler, ways we can tweak family life to make our children more content too.
This means creating tech no-go zones, like family meal-times, a digital sunset leading up to lights-out, as well as removing all screens from bedrooms at night. On a physiological level, the blue light emitted by electronics suppresses the production of melatonin, a chemical that makes us feel sleepy when it is released into the bloodstream’. A further survey of British households found that one in seven families never eat together at all, due to creeping long hours culture and fragmented time-tables. A further review by the University of Florida found that children who have structured, social meal-times with their families have a more positive outlook, get better school marks,  higher self-worth  and are even less likely to start smoking or taking drugs in their teen years. For a child, having friends who they can be themselves with is probably the single most important factor in making them feel good about themselves – and also wanting to go to school. According to the 2015 Children’s Society report, our youngsters are the most likely of all the 15 countries surveyed to say that they had been left out by others in their class at least once in the last month. Studies are increasingly finding a link between such programming and bitchy, judgmental behaviour and exclusion with researchers in the University of Central Michigan University finding the behaviour of students becoming more aggressive after viewing such programmes. In a survey of 1000 parents in February, a third reported they were often too tired at the end of long days and wearisome commutes to read them a bedtime story – even though it can be one of the most bonding moments of the day.
A long-term study, which tracked 1600 children, by  the University of Toronto, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio found last year that just six hours of dedicated family time a week is linked to lower rates of delinquent behaviour in teenagers, and better school performance. He is now the happiest man on earth, a close crony of the Dalai Lama, and respected western scholar of religion. A healthy mind should act like a mirror – faces can be reflected in a glass but none of them stick. It’s impossible to stop thoughts from coming but focusing on a particular sound or the breath going in and out calms the mind, giving greater clarity. Once you’ve achieved some skill in this you can use that to cultivate qualities such as kindness, or dealing with disturbing emotions.
Like when playing the piano, practising the feeling for 20 minutes has a far greater impact over time than a few seconds.  Regular practise is also needed like watering a plant. You will see benefits in stress levels and general wellbeing as well as brain changes with regular practise in a month.


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Ricard cites a study of hospital patients recovering more quickly when they could see trees and other nature outside of their windows.
Penalosa was a politician on yet another campaign, and this was Bogota, a city with a reputation for kidnapping and assassination.
This programme redesigned the experience of city living for millions of people, and it was an utter rejection of the philosophies that have guided city planners around the world for more than half a century. The British got richer by more than 40% between 1993 and 2012, but the rate of psychiatric disorders and neuroses grew. People who live in monofunctional, car?dependent neighbourhoods outside urban centres are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighbourhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and places to work. So we adapt quickly to the joy of a larger house, because the house is exactly the same size every time. Surveys show that Londoners are among the least happy people in the UK, despite the city being the richest region in the UK. An upmarket vehicle is loaded with symbolic value that offers a powerful, if temporary, boost in status. The worse the traffic, the more your system is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the fight-or-flight juices that, in the short-term, get your heart pumping faster, dilate your air passages and help sharpen your alertness, but in the long-term can make you ill. He advises cities and corporations to abandon old mobility, a system rigidly organised entirely around one way of moving, and embrace new mobility, a future in which we would all be free to move in the greatest variety of ways. I joined Copenhagen rush hour on a September morning with Lasse Lindholm, an employee of the city’s traffic department.
It was found that the more families eat together, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, the greater the benefits.
Controlling the mind is not about reducing your freedom, it’s about not being a slave to your thoughts.
He says everyone has felt all-consuming love but usually it lasts for about 15 seconds, but you can hold on and nurture this vivid feeling by focusing on it in meditation. But this did not explain his haste or his quickening pace as we traversed the north end of the city towards the Andean foothills.
He had been rushing to pick up his son from school, like other parents were doing that very moment up and down the time zone. Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office.
Robert Judge, a 48-year-old husband and father, once wrote to a Canadian radio show explaining how much he enjoyed going grocery shopping on his bicycle.
Yet despite these romantic feelings, half of commuters living in big cities and suburbs claim to dislike the heroic journey they must make every day.
Researchers for Hewlett-Packard convinced volunteers in England to wear electrode caps during their commutes and found that whether they were driving or taking the train, peak-hour travellers suffered worse stress than fighter pilots or riot police facing mobs of angry protesters. The sun was burning through the autumn haze as we made our way across Queen Louise’s Bridge.
It was all I could do to keep up with him, block after block, until we arrived at a compound ringed by a high iron fence.
Here, in the heart of one of the meanest, poorest cities in the hemisphere, father and son would roll away from the school gate for a carefree ride across the metropolis.
On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love. Judge’s confession would have been unremarkable if he did not happen to live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where the average temperature in January hovers around -17C.
Vapour rose from the lake, swans drifted and preened, and the bridge seethed with a rush-hour scene like none I have ever witnessed. By spending resources and designing cities in a way that values everyone’s experience, we can make cities that help us all get stronger, more resilient, more connected, more active and more free.
His bodyguards and I pedalled madly behind, like a throng of teenagers in the wake of a rock star. People told pollsters that they were more optimistic about city life than they had been in years.
Since the Paris bike scheme, Velib’, was introduced, it has utterly changed the face of mobility.
As the sun fell and the Andes caught fire, we arced our way along the wide-open avenues, then west along a highway built for bicycles. Judge’s pleasure in an experience that seems slower, more difficult and considerably more uncomfortable than the alternative might seem bizarre. People believed that life was good and getting better, a feeling they had not shared in decades.
He explained it by way of a story: sometimes, he said, he would pick up his three-year-old son from nursery and put him on the back seat of his tandem bike and they would pedal home along the South Saskatchewan river. Dozens of cities have now dabbled in shared bike programmes, including Lyon, Montreal, Melbourne, New York. Dusk would paint the sky in colours so exquisite that Judge could not begin to find names for them. In 2010, London introduced a system, dubbed Boris Bikes for the city’s bike-mad mayor, Boris Johnson. How could anyone know enough about the needs of the human soul to prescribe the ideal city for happiness? It would glow like the sky, and Judge would breathe in the cold air and hear his son breathing behind him, and he would feel as though together they had become part of winter itself. As more people took to bicycles in Velib’s first year, the number of bike accidents rose, but the number of accidents per capita fell. This phenomenon seems to repeat wherever cities see a spike in cycling: the more people bike, the safer the streets become for cyclists, partly because drivers adopt more cautious habits when they expect cyclists on the road.



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