Tuesday, May 26, 2015

THRIVE: Community Tool for Health and Resilience In Vulnerable Environments

Logo of the United States National Center on M...
US National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities (Wikipedia)
by Prevention Institute: http://www.preventioninstitute.org/component/jlibrary/article/id-96/127.html

A Community Approach to Address Health Disparities

Prevention Institute has updated its Community Approach to Addressing Disparities in Health with the revision of THRIVE: Toolkit for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments.

A centerpiece of THRIVE is a set of community level factors that are linked to Healthy People 2010 Leading Health Indicators. It now features a simplified list of thirteen factors to facilitate use of the tool at the local level. 

Advancing a Community Resilience Approach to Improve Health Outcomes 

Poor health and safety outcomes, including chronic disease, traffic-related injuries, mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and violence, are disproportionately high among low-income people and people of color in the United States.

In addition, the impact of racism and oppression increases numerous risk factors for illness and injury, including reduced access to fresh nutritious foods, fewer opportunities for physical activity, greater exposure to environmental toxins, and substandard housing and neighborhood conditions.

With the increased recognition of existing health disparities in the United States, there has been an emphasis on treatment and intervention. However, there is also a need to prevent health disparities before the onset of injury, illness, or death. Focusing on underlying factors, both risk and resilience, can save lives and money and reduce suffering.

Resilience, defined here as the ability to thrive and overcome risk factors, merits attention in order to achieve health and safety outcomes. Studies show that resilience factors can counteract the negative impact of risk factors and that effective approaches need to include attention to both. Given the preponderance of attention to risk factors, this project will highlight resilience factors that support health and safety outcomes.

Resilience approaches have tended to focus on individual measures; attention to community-level factors is also important. For example, the building blocks of healthy communities include marketing and availability of healthy foods as opposed to fast food and tobacco, safe parks, effective education, health and social services, community gathering places, and locally owned businesses.

Research confirms the relationship between such factors and health and safety outcomes. For instance, social cohesion corresponds with significant increases in physical and mental health, academic achievement, and local economic development, as well as lower rates of homicide, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Other examples of community resilience factors include environments that promote walking, bicycling, and other forms of incidental or recreational activity, jobs, a willingness to take action for the common good, positive intergroup relations, and positive behavioral norms. By strengthening such factors, communities have significant capacity to enhance health and safety.

Measuring Community Resilience

The goal of this project was to develop a tool to assess community-level resilience factors that serve as benchmarks for the Leading Health Indicators of Healthy People 2010. The tool, which is informed by research, included an environmental scan and piloting in Del Paso Heights, California; Hidalgo County, New Mexico; and East Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx in New York City.

A diverse, national expert panel provided guidance throughout the process. The pilot process confirmed the tools utility in rural and urban settings and for community members as well as practitioners and local policy makers. This tool can help local decision-makers close the health gap. It includes collateral materials such as training materials and preliminary guidelines to translate the THRIVE results into concrete changes in local policies, programs and priorities. 

THRIVE Overview and Background

THRIVE (Tool for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments) was created to answer the question, "What can communities do to improve health and safety and reduce inequities?" Developed with funding from Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, THRIVE is:
1) a process for engaging community members and practitioners in changing community conditions to achieve better health and safety outcomes; and
2) a tool for assessing the status of community conditions and prioritizing them for action to improve health, safety, and health equity.

This overview and background document is organized in a question and answer format to respond to frequently asked questions about THRIVE, such as: Why do health inequities occur? How does THRIVE promote health equity? Why does THRIVE focuses on the community level? What's the relationship between THRIVE and the social determinants of health? What is the role of health care in reducing health inequities? 

THRIVE Assessment Worksheet

The THRIVE (Tool for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments) Assessment Worksheet enables organizations and coalitions to rate and prioritize 12 THRIVE factors in their community in order to take action to improve daily living conditions, enhance health and safety and reduce inequities.

Developed with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, the 12 THRIVE factors are based on extensive research linking medical conditions to community-resilience factors that can be strengthened for better health and safety outcomes.

The 12 factors are community-level determinants of health and safety, grouped in 3 interrelated clusters: 1) the social/cultural environment (people), 2) the physical/built environment (place), and 3) the economic/educational environment (equitable opportunity).

The Assessment Worksheet is also flexible, and allows communities to add, rate, and prioritize factors that they consider important. THRIVE has demonstrated utility in urban, rural, and suburban settings, as described in the American Journal of Public Health 2005 article, A Community Resilience Approach to Reducing Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Health.


This project is made possible by funding from the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Like many Prevention Institute tools, THRIVE serves as a useful supplement to health-related academic programs. Feedback from MPH students includes:

"... it was enlightening to consider such factors as willingness to act for the common good or what is sold and how it is promoted."
"There were many useful asides about how to collaborate or how to prioritize problems. I also appreciated the practical examples of real results in real communities."
"I found the THRIVE tool very useful and intriguing in its simplicity, effectiveness, and broad scope of application. 'Change comes from within' applies not only to people, but to communities, and the people of the community need to be empowered to do so. Then they have a chance of bringing lasting change. THRIVE seems to be a tool that could be used by lay people and professionals alike."
"I really liked the THRIVE tool. I found it empowering for communities and for health care providers. It is also simple to navigate and easy to understand. The entire site was informative and has potential applications in the future, both in school and beyond. The resources offered were invaluable; it can be difficult to find resources if you don't have anyone pointing you in the right direction."
"I felt that the tool was very useful in breaking down what some of the key issues are within a given community." 

Associated File(s) (click to download): 

THRIVE: Community Tool for Health & Resilience In Vulnerable Environments Executive Summary

Monday, May 25, 2015

Why Resilient People Triumph … and How to Be Like Them

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Power of Resilience

Power of Resilienceby , Smart Healthy Women: http://www.smarthealthywomen.com/resilience-healthy-living/ 

Resilience is the Key to Healthy Living 

If your life is anything like mine, you probably encounter a constant stream of situations that could put your ideal healthy lifestyle on hold for yet another day. 

Though most people face challenges every day, some do manage to stick to eating healthy food and working out regardless.

So what’s the difference? The answer is for us to be resilient.

I’ve now been working in the field of resilience for nearly ten years. During this time I’ve noticed how crucial it is to be resilient when it comes to sticking to a healthy lifestyle and managing weight in the long term. I’ve seen the difference between friends that have it, friends that don’t, and also how my own life changed as I improved my resilience.

To be resilient means being able to positively respond to a crisis. This is the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn - to not just get back up after a setback, but to also improve myself in the process. The truth is that we all respond when something happens, but few of us really take these challenges as positive opportunities to improve ourselves and the situation.

This is where the power of resilience can be truly fantastic - as you learn to positively respond to situations, you develop the power to turn negative situations into positive experiences. A stressful job can become an exciting challenge. A breakup can be a chance to learn and grow. It’s all a matter of perspective and how we choose to respond. That’s right - we choose how we respond to these situations, and we can choose to be more constructive about it.

What is important is that how we respond directly affects our eating habits. Just think - after a stressful day, we are much more likely to want some ice cream rather than go for a jog and eat a healthy meal! But if we are good at managing stress, then we’re more likely to stay healthy, resulting in a better, healthier body, that makes it even easier to stay positive and on top of things. This is a virtuous circle that we want to be in, and building your own resilience means you can quickly step back into it after a challenging day.

The great news is that you can start improving your resilience at any age, and the best time is to start now!

Here are five powerful tips to get you started: 

Let your goals be your guide

Choose what it is that really gives your life a sense of meaning. Whether it is supporting your family, making a difference in the community, building an awesome career, or anything else that makes you get out of bed. Make sure that being healthy is an important goal for you as well. These goals will be very powerful when making hard decisions as you should choose the option that would best help you towards your goals. 

The importance of involving others

Don’t do it alone! Involving family, friends, colleagues and others is extremely valuable when building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with research confirming that this is a crucial step in being successful in losing weight and keeping it off. Make sure your support network knows what you want to achieve, and always be ready to accept their help! 

Embracing change

If there is one constant in life, it is change. This we’ve all heard many times, but how many of us really take this to heart? Embracing change means looking forward to when situations change and being excited about how we will manage new situations that haven’t even happened yet. Be ready for change so that you can stick to eating healthy meals and staying fit regardless of what happens. 

A grounded sense of hope

Sometimes very positive people can seem a bit delusional, to the point of denying some harsh realities. When it comes to weight management, research has shown that an overly optimistic mindset can actually be detrimental. The key is to have realistic sense of hope for the future. This means having realistic expectations of what you can accomplish, along with the trust in yourself that you will accomplish it. 

Looking after yourself

So important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to look after all aspects of what your body needs. Eating good food and working out is one thing, but you also need to get enough quality sleep (at least seven hours a night) as well as be in a positive environment. This might mean stepping away from friends and situations that drag you down, and spending more time with yourself and others that bring value to your life. 

Being centered and confident

Guess what - the mere fact that you have come as far as you already have means that you are a fantastically capable person with every reason to have a lot of confidence in yourself! You can further build confidence in yourself by remembering these keys - have firm values and stick to them, be decisive and trust your judgement, be committed and believe in your own self-worth. All of this means you absolutely have the ability to get healthy and stick to your healthy lifestyle in the long term. Even if you’ve tried many times before, now is the time to use resilience and prove what you can really do! 

About the author 

Jurie Rossouw is the founder of Think Lean Method, a ground-breaking book on combining personal resilience and brain health to stick to a healthy lifestyle in the long term. Jurie specialises in the field of resilience which he uses as a platform to make meaningful and lasting changes to people’s lives. 

Living in sunny Sydney, Jurie’s interest is the integration of various fields, including nutrition, neuroscience, psychology and personal resilience, which he distils into simple and practical plans that everyone can follow. Having gone through a reinvention of his own life, Jurie now helps others transform their lives to become goal-oriented and dramatically improve wellbeing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Eureka Myth: Why Darwin (not Draper) is the Right Model for Creative Thinking

creativity-600px-2by Cal Newport: http://calnewport.com/blog/2015/05/19/the-eureka-myth-why-darwin-not-draper-is-the-right-model-for-creative-thinking/  

The Inspiring Story: A Brilliant Mind “Thinks Different”

In a pivotal scene in the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything, the physicist is staring into the embers of a dying fire when he has an epiphany: black holes emit heat!

The next scene shows Hawking triumphantly announcing his result to a stunned audience - and just like that, his insight vaults him into the ranks of scientific stardom.

This story is inspirational. But as the physicist Leonard Mlodinow points out in a recent New York Times op-ed, it’s not at all how Hawking’s breakthrough actually happened.

The Stubborn Reality: A Highly-Trained Mathematician Works Hard

In reality, Hawking had encountered a theory by two Russian physicists that argued rotating black holes should emit energy until they slowed to a stationary configuration. Hawking, who at the time was a promising young scientist who had not yet made his mark, was intrigued, but also skeptical. So he decided to look deeper.

In the (many) months that followed, Hawking trained his preternatural analytical skill to investigate the validity of the Russians’ claims. This task required any number of minor breakthroughs, all orbiting the need to somehow reconcile (in a targeted way) both quantum theory and relativity. This was really hard work.

The number of physicists at the time with enough specialized training and grit to follow through this investigation probably wouldn’t have filled a moderate size classroom. But Hawking persisted.

And to his eventual “surprise and annoyance,” his mathematics confirmed an even more shocking conclusion: even stationary black holes can emit heat. There was no fireside eureka moment, but instead a growing awareness that gained traction as the mathematics were refined and checked again and again. 

The Eureka Myth

Mlodinow tells this story as one of many examples of scientific discoveries incorrectly portrayed as the result of sudden insight. (He also places Darwin’s finches and Newton’s apple in this category.)
There are many lessons that can be drawn from Mlodinow’s article, but there’s one in particular I want to highlight here: we need to rethink creativity.

This idea came to me soon after I read Mlodinow’s op-ed. Later that morning I was at Barnes & Noble, still thinking about his points, when I saw the table display pictured above. The two books placed right next to each other on the display, I realized, capture a fundamental rift in our culture’s thinking on creativity.

The bottom book, titled The Eureka Factor, explains, among other things, how to setup your environment to be more “conducive” to generating “creative insights” of the type portrayed in The Theory of Everything. The top book, titled Birth of a Theorem (which I bought and read this weekend), is written by the french mathematician Cedric Villani. It tells the tale (without undue exposition or elision) of how he came to solve the theorem that won him the 2010 Fields Medal.

The former promotes a Don Draper style story that we like to hear: if you’re willing to open yourself to your own genius, you’ll have eureka moments that change your life. The latter paints the Stephan Hawking style reality of what produces real creativity: hard won skills are put to work in a painstaking, obsessive way to uncover, one cognitive brush stroke at a time, something fundamentally new.

In an economy where creativity is becoming both more important and complicated,  I suspect we need to abandon the old ways of thinking about this type of thinking, with its conference room brainstorming sessions and markers on butcher paper, and instead discover what scientists knew along: creativity is hard, highly-skilled work that is often quite unromantic in its execution, but is ultimately a source of deeper satisfaction than any short-lived eureka moment could ever deliver.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

VIDEOS: The Path to Resilience - A New Video Series Shows How Resilience is Built, One Positive Adult Relationship at a Time

The Path to Resilience: A new video series shows how resilience is built, one positive adult relationship at a time. #hgse #usable knowledgeby Bari Walsh, Usable Knowledge: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/15/05/path-resilience

The more we learn about resilience in children, the more we begin to understand the powerful role that adults can play in fostering it, even in kids who face daunting challenges.

As the latest science from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard shows, resilience is fluid and compounding, nurtured by the essential fertilizer of an adult’s caring attention.

A new three-part video series produced by the center explores - in clear and simple terms - exactly how that happens, answering questions about why some children who face serious problems can cope and thrive.

Resilience is a broad set of “capacities and skills and abilities that give people a sense of mastery and management of difficulty,” says center director Jack Shonkoff, one of a number of neuroscientists and early childhood experts who paint a picture of resilience as a quality that is built over time, resulting from the interactions of people and their environment.

Think of resilience like a scale, the scientists say, with a fulcrum in the middle. Things pile up on both sides of that scale - our experiences of bad things and of good things. Our genes affect where the fulcrum is positioned at the beginning; some of us are inherently more or less sensitive to stress, and so the fulcrum might start out closer to one end of the scale than the other.

But our experiences move the fulcrum, providing adults with a powerful opportunity to shape a child’s outlook and abilities. When positive experiences accumulate, children gradually gain the adaptive skills that help them manage stress, and the fulcrum slides. When that happens, the scale tilts more easily toward positive outcomes, counterbalancing adversity now and in the future.

How do we generate more of these positive experiences for kids who sorely need them? By creating opportunities for caring, reliable, and responsive interactions with adults.

Parents are key, of course, but they are not the only adults who can make a significant impact. Coaches, teachers, extended family, foster parents, social workers, mentors - all of these figures can form relationships with kids that build resilience down the road.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.: As director of the Center on the Developing Child, Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., is using the science of early childhood development to drive innovation in policy and practice, with the goal of transforming life outcomes for disadvantaged children and reducing the consequences of early adversity.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Most Children are Happy No Matter What, But Materialism Catches Up Eventually

Image result for happiness

A new survey of 53,000 children across 15 countries reveals that children tend to be happy regardless of the context of their lives. 

From Nepal to Norway, children between the ages of 10 and 12 say that they are largely satisfied with their lives (pdf).

“Children tend to be more optimistic in life,” Elisabeth Backe-Hansen, the Norwegian lead researcher for the Children’s World Survey, told Quartz. Though not surprising, it is reassuring.

When asked whether these children had access to nine things - good clothes, a computer, internet access, a mobile phone, their own room, books, a family car, a music player, and a TV - children in Norway on average had access to all of them but those in Ethiopia had access to only three. And yet, across the 15 countries, there was no correlation between how satisfied children were and how many material goods they lacked:
However, the material deprivation seems to catch up eventually. If you compare the relative rankings of children’s reported happiness with their grown-up counterparts (pdf), the results change significantly.

Country Children’s happiness relative rank Adults’ happiness relative rank
Romania 1 12
Colombia 2 4
Israel 3 6
Algeria 4 9
Turkey 5 11
Norway 6 1
Spain 7 5
Germany 8 3
Estonia 9 10
Ethiopia 10 15
South Africa 11 13
Nepal 12 14
England 13 2
Poland 14 8
South Korea 15 7

“Why Romanian 10- to 12-year-olds do so well compared to all the other countries we surveyed is a bit of a mystery,” Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York, one of the survey’s lead organizers, told Quartz. “Other studies on 13- to 15-year-olds in Romania don’t show such positive results. So perhaps the older Romanians get, the less happy they become.”

The case for South Koreans is the opposite. Korean children, despite having access to most material goods, seem to be unhappier than adults. This finding reaffirms previous surveys, which claim that the country’s highly competitive academic environment is a much bigger burden than elsewhere in the world.
There is also a noteworthy difference in the nature of of kids’ carefree attitudes in rich and poor countries. Despite being generally happy, children in developed countries were relatively less satisfied with their body, appearance, and self-confidence.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Can Short Bouts of Light Exercise Really Make You Healthier?

by Richard Metcalfe, University of Ulster, The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/can-short-bouts-of-light-exercise-really-make-you-healthier-41404

A growing body of advice suggests doing small amounts of moderate exercise can make a significant difference to your health.

Academic research is being turned into headlines such as: “Spending two minutes an hour walking instead of sitting can help you live longer” and “Can’t be bothered to exercise? Just WALK”. But how strong is the evidence for promoting accumulated short bouts of exercise and can it ever replace longer or more strenuous activity?

When we talk about performing this kind of exercise, what we really mean is trying to reduce the amount of time spent being sedentary. There is strong correlational evidence showing that a large amount of time spent sitting increases the risk of several diseases - and, consequently, early death. And the excess risk appears to be present even if you are exercising regularly.

The proposed implication of these studies is that too much sitting is distinct from too little exercise. Breaking up prolonged sitting with short accumulated bouts of exercise may be sufficient to reduce the risk of disease, but this type of evidence can never definitively prove that one necessarily causes the other.

There is as yet no research showing that an intervention that regularly breaks up prolonged sitting with short bouts (two to three minutes an hour) of light-to-moderate physical activity will reduce the risk of disease (or early death) in the long term. And we certainly can’t yet say this type of intervention would compensate for a chronic lack of structured exercise.

What we do have is a number of shorter intervention studies (one to seven days) that show breaking up prolonged sitting can help manage several risk factors known to be important for disease prevention.

The most consistent finding is that breaking up prolonged sitting leads to a reduction in blood glucose and insulin concentrations in response to a meal. One study also reported improvements in blood pressure regulation. Importantly, short periods of standing do not appear to be sufficient - rather the accumulated short bouts of physical activity are of key importance.

Perhaps the strongest evidence comes from studies that have replaced light-to-moderate physical activity with sedentary time. For example, one study examined the effect of reducing the average number of steps taken from 10,000 a day to 1,500 a day in a group of healthy men. After just two weeks there were large reductions in aerobic fitness and lean muscle tissue, increases in body fat and increases in blood glucose and insulin concentrations.

from www.shutterstock.com

Over the last few years, many studies have looked at the effects of very short bouts of high-intensity exercise, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIT). The research has shown that HIT can provide the same - if not superior - health benefits compared with conventional high-volume aerobic exercise programmes, but in a fraction of the time. The main driver for the promotion of HIT is the finding that a lack of time is a major barrier to exercise participation.

What’s the caveat? Well the majority of HIT protocols are extremely intense and that’s likely to put people off. Due to the rest periods the total time commitment also tends to be between 20-30 minutes/session, which is not really different from current guidelines on moderate exercise.

But there might be a solution. More recent studies have shown that much shorter HIT protocols (for example, two bursts of 20 seconds within a 10-minute session) may still provide important health benefits. One study observed similar increases in cardiovascular fitness after three weekly sessions of either four four-minute sprints or a single four-minute sprint at 90% of maximum heart rate. Perhaps, in some instances, more pain does not equal more gain.

There are lots of forms of physical activity that may be important for health. Where should you place your bets? The simple conclusion is we need to move more and move more often - and try to do a structured higher-intensity activity (insert your most enjoyable/manageable here) on three or more days of the week. How we convince more people to do this is more difficult to answer.
The Conversation

Richard Metcalfe is Lecturer in Exercise and Health at University of Ulster.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Friday, May 15, 2015

In Which Countries are Children Happier – and Why?

Image result for happiness index
by Jonathan Bradshaw, University of York, The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/in-which-countries-are-children-happier-and-why-41838

Children in European countries tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with their friendships while children in African countries tend to be happier with their school lives.

These are just some of the findings of the Children’s Worlds study into child well-being, based on interviews with more than 50,000 children aged eight, ten and 12, in 15 countries.

The study asked children in representative samples of schools in Algeria, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and England about key aspects of their lives.

These included their family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, school life, local area, time use, personal well-being, views on children’s rights, and their overall happiness.

Most of the children rated their satisfaction with life as a whole (on a scale from zero to ten) positively, but the percentage of children with very high well-being (ten out of ten) varied from around 78% in Turkey and 77% in Romania and Colombia to around 40% in South Korea.

The percentage with low well-being (less than five out of ten) varied from less than 2% in Romania and Colombia to more than 7% in South Korea and South Africa.

Appearance and self-confidence

Children’s well-being decreased between the ages of ten and 12 in many European countries and in South Korea, while there was no age pattern in other countries such as Israel and Ethiopia. Overall happiness did not vary between girls and boys, but there are significant gender differences in satisfaction with oneself (body, appearance and self-confidence) in Europe and South Korea, but not in the other countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Children in northern European countries are particularly dissatisfied with their appearance and self-confidence. The England study, based in the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, interviewed 3,400 children and found that children in England have particularly low satisfaction with their bodies, the way they look and their self-confidence. There were large gender differences in England for these issues with girls being much less satisfied than boys.

Gender differences in self-satisfaction. Girl by Shutterstock

It also found that children in England scored comparatively low on subjective well-being. Together with other European countries they were less happy with their schools and teachers than children in other regions. They spent less time on homework than most other countries and were less satisfied about having a quiet place to work.

However, they had comparatively high levels of satisfaction with their possessions and their friendships. They were most positive of all countries about the police. The survey also asked about experiences of bullying at school in the past month and found the incidence of physical bullying in England to be in the mid-range for this sample of countries. But children in England were the most likely to say that they had been left out (socially excluded) by other children in their school class.

Time and living arrangements

In terms of living arrangements, well over half (61%) of children in Nepal (interviewed before the recent earthquakes) lived in a household consisting of parent(s) and grandparent(s), whereas in England, Norway and Israel less than 10% of children did so.

The research also highlights the prevalence of children living in two different homes in some European countries - more than 10% of children in Norway, England and Estonia - a pattern which is rarely seen in some other countries in the survey.

There were substantial differences between countries in how children spent their time. For example, children reported spending much more time on homework in Estonia and Poland than in South Korea and England.

Children in Poland, Norway and Israel spent the most time playing sports and exercising. Children in some countries (including Algeria, Nepal and South Africa) spent much more time caring for siblings and other family members than in others (such as Germany, Turkey and South Korea).

Finally, there were widely varying levels of knowledge of and views about children’s rights across the 15 countries. More than three-quarters (77%) of children in Norway said that they knew what rights children had compared to 36% in England. Moreover, 84% of children in Norway agreed that adults generally respected children’s rights in their country compared to less than 50% in seven other countries.

Asher Ben-Arieh, one of the study’s principal investigators and co-chair of the International Society of Child Indicators, has said that the work “demonstrates that it is possible and valuable to ask children how they feel about their lives and that different children from different places share a common childhood”.

Comparative studies of well-being are important because they are the only way of knowing how well our children are doing and how much better their lives could be. Some of the lessons for England from this survey are that our schools should be friendlier places; girls in particular need to be kinder to each other in personal relationships and not so preoccupied with body and appearance. Bullying remains a threat to happiness and must be the focus of greater effort in and outside schools.
The Conversation

Jonathan Bradshaw is Professor of Social Policy at University of York.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Creativity Can Make You More Resilient

Messy Office Desk with Ideas and Visionby , Mequilibrium: https://www.mequilibrium.com/2015/05/12/how-creativity-can-make-you-more-resilient/

What role does creativity play in your life? Do you like to make, cook, paint, write, or glue things together? The more you do, the better off you may be.

And while most of us aren’t spending our days doing watercolors or writing songs, that doesn’t mean we should write off creativity, period. Because one of the best reasons to embrace more of it in your life is that it’s a powerful way to build resilience.

That’s what Brene Brown, PhD, told the audience of nearly 4,000 at the recent How Design Live conference, where graphic designers, visual artists, and other creative professionals go for information and inspiration in their industry. Brown, whose famous TED talk has garnered nearly 20 million views to date, says that the act of creating isn’t just a career - it’s a tool that helps turn ideas into action.

“The biggest question I’ve gotten in my career is this,” she said. “How do I go from understanding an idea in my head to living it in my heart?” After all, you can know a thing intellectually, but how do you make it real? "If you want to move knowledge from your head to your heart, it requires your hands,” she said.

“Creativity is the ultimate integration tool. And the best part is that it’s built in.” In other words, we all have the power to create. And it’s in the act of doing and making a thing that you go from knowing a thing to living it.

This isn’t just a nice-to-do - it’s critical for helping you get back up after you’ve fallen, she says ... also known as resilience. And it just so happens to be the topic of her next book due out later this summer, Rising Strong.

A dear friend of mine, a musician, says he can tell when he’s gone too long without making something - he gets irritable, edgy, impatient. As soon as he takes even a little bit of time to invest in making something (a sketch, the beginnings of a song), he feels so much better.

So, I ask you: What creative urge have you been stifling? What thing could you do or make that would help you connect to that in-born ability and urge to create? It doesn’t have to spin off into a career or business. You don’t have to up and quit your job to go “be creative” - you can do just a few little things that help tap your nascent and fully wired ability to make things, and to take joy in the making.

It could be doodling again for the first time in years, or making a vision board but cutting out pictures from magazines that you love. Maybe it’s baking cookies again, or cooking your famous lasagna, working on an arts and crafts project with your kids.

Remind yourself of what it feels like to step into a place of creativity, knowing that just the act of taking that risk helps you feel aligned, calm, and even a little more confident than you were before. Because if you can do this, what else might you do?