Science & happiness: Does having children make us happy?

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Do you think that having children can increase our happiness or subjective well-being as scientists like to call it?

According to science having children who are up to 5 years old or teenagers makes us actually LESS HAPPY! However, children can make our life more meaningful and what’s interesting (in spite of all the stress and worries), parents live on average longer!

One of the reasons for the drop in happiness levels is that many people who have children feel less happy because they believe that if they were only more organised or could improve their work-life balance they would be better parents. They feel that this is an individual problem but nowadays it’s a bigger social issue particularly in developed countries where people seem to work longer hours and take work home.

In 2016 The Independent indicated that according to studies in the USA parents report they are 12% unhappier than non-parents. In the UK the number is slightly smaller as of 8% parents feel less happy. For Poland, the result was nearly a 5% drop in happiness level compared to non-parents. There are however a few countries where people feel happier when they have children, for example, in France, Norway, Spain or Portugal.

Researchers looked at differences between the countries to try to find out why in some countries parents are happier than in others and they found that government policies or lack of them, and less support from the government contribute a great deal to the increased cost, stress and anxiety felt, for example, by American or British parents.

It was estimated “that a middle-income American family is likely to spend $234,900 to raise a child to age 17.” If the teenager then decides to go to college, that figure may even double.

What makes parents happier in other countries? For example, in Norway or France there are more supportive family policies. In Spain and Portugal extended family networks seem to be very helpful in taking care of children.

I must say as a person who is about to start maternity leave in the UK, I feel happy but at the same time quite anxious about the lack of sufficient support for parents.

How does it look in the UK then?

  • for most women (depending on if and where they work)– very low maternity leave pay (around £500 a month) that is given only for 9 months (then you can have 3 months of unpaid maternity leave if you like)
  • only 2 weeks of paternal leave (for fathers)
  • unpaid parental leave (4 weeks a year, max. 18 weeks in total)
  • in many companies unpaid sick leave/careers days
  • no support from government in terms of childcare until the child is 2 years old
  • although the country is regarded as a developed one, in some companies taking sick leave by women during pregnancy is perceived negatively by employers because some believe that (although we assume that we all know that every pregnancy is different) “pregnancy is not a disease” and women should “get on with it!”

To compare it with Poland, mothers there receive:

  • 12 months paid maternity leave
  • 500 zlotych per month per child for parents who have more than 1 child (imagine that you live e.g. in the USA and receive $500 for every child except the first one on a monthly basis and this doesn’t depend on your earnings at all)
  • paid sick leave during pregnancy

Are you a parent or planning to become one? Are you satisfied with the support given by your government in your country?

 

 

How to stay more productive? And why time-management isn’t the right answer.

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Nowadays we receive 5 times more information on a daily basis than just a few decades ago. We are expected to juggle many different roles and responsibilities and we constantly feel that we should be more productive.

There is a bit of a paradox here that people believe in. We feel we should work more and faster in order to be more productive. If you are a factory worker that’s probably the case but in most other jobs in order to be more productive we need to SLOW DOWN!

When did time start to matter to people SO MUCH? I find history quite fascinating so let’s just go through a few interesting facts:

  • In 1275, the first mechanical clock was invented in England. The oldest working clocks usually did not have any face and told the time by striking the hours.
  • Pocket watches started to be produced in the 16thcentury but showed only hours. Minute hands were added to the clocks in the 1680s. Then the second hands were added around 10 years later.
  • Mass production of watches started in the 19th century and was related to industrial changes.
  • The first wrist watches were wore by women and often used rather as a piece of jewellery than a device to measure time.

Apparently before people used watches If they wanted to tell how long something may take they would describe it by giving an example of an activity that was well known e.g. “like eating a banana”, so then everyone knew that they meant a very short period of time.

Time management used to be crucial in the industrial economy but nowadays, in the knowledge economy (when we use our knowledge to create values and products), it is ONLY ONE OUT OF A FEW important factors which can improve our effectiveness, productivity and work-life balance.

Actually managing your energy and tasks is a lot more important than time-management. Instead of worrying about passing hours and days and how we can squeeze more tasks into small blocks of time, we need to divert attention into more significant aspects, more innovative techniques and solutions which can help in achieving optimal productivity.

We feel most productive when we do a lot of things and work longer hours. Many people think then that to accomplish more you need to put more effort in, sleep fewer hours and work additionally at weekends, to be always ahead of competition! There is a bit of truth in it. Nothing that’s great comes easily and if you want to have exceptional results you need to put a lot of work and energy into whatever you are doing – writing a book, working on your business plan or creating a project for your university course or work. However, working more hours won’t make you more productive. Studies found that we should work, ideally, 35-40 hours a week in order to achieve the best results. Working more than that may work for very short periods of time—for example, a few days—but in the long-term working a lot will make you exhausted and depressed and you are at high risk of burnout. To be more productive focus on slowing down MORE!

Remember about regular breaks and getting 7-8 hours of sleep everyday as well. We all seem to know these simple rules but they are neglected by SO many of us!

Time usage is vital in our lives (that’s why we all keep looking at watches, and the most popular word in the English language is…time!) so I don’t want to say that this is not important but there seem to be other more crucial factors which can decide how effective, productive and successful we are. Focus on managing your energy levels and attention and consider how you can avoid distractions. Also, focusing on the right tasks seems a straightforward rule but is often neglected by many people who instead of spending some time on reflection, prioritising, planning and reviewing try to do more tasks and take work home.

What do you do to boost your productivity?

 

This blog has been nominated for the LIEBSTER AWARD

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I’d like to say a huge thank you to UNBREAKABLEYETFRAGILE ( you can read & follow her blog HERE) for nominating me for the Liebster Award especially as I’m not a very experience blogger. I really appreciate it. In the rules for the 2018 nominations there is a part where I’m asked to say why I’m passionate about blogging.

  • One of the reasons is that I can not only practise writing, which is great, but I’m also thinking more about ideas, facts and information related to topics such as personal growth and happiness which are worth spreading. This means that my brain (and its 2,500-3,300 thoughts an hour – same as for any other human being) is not only occupied with everyday work, responsibilities and to-do lists but also thinks more frequently about important, meaningful stuff.
  • I’ve discovered that the blogging community is a very interesting place (especially compared to Instagram, for example, where many comments are very superficial). Here people tend to get into more in-depth conversations.

In the rules for the Liebster Awards for 2018 bloggers are being asked to write 10 random things about themselves. Oh boy, that’s a challenge. Haha 😉 I like challenges though, so here we go:

  1. I’m Polish and married to a Brazilian for over a decade.
  2. I work as a senior administrator.
  3. I enjoy reading interesting facts or watching documentaries about nutrition & fitness, and their impact on our brain.
  4. I’m extremely afraid of spiders and bees (especially if I find any in my house; especially if I’m at home on my own!). I mean, extremely.
  5. I try to get up around 5:30am every day to have around 2 hours for my creative work.
  6. I enjoy travelling on trains and buses because that’s Me Time when I can read more.
  7. I don’t believe in talent. I’m a big believer that ANYONE can, for example, learn a foreign language.
  8. I speak Polish, English and Portuguese fluently and can communicate more or less in Spanish, Czech and Slovakian. I tried to learn German and Chinese but I had to stop those language classes. 
  9. I practised ju-jitsu for a year. I love martial arts.
  10. I’’ve been interested in positive psychology for around 17 years.

Now… these are a few questions from Unbreakableyetfragile for me to answer, so let’s go…! 😉

  1. What is the purpose of your blog?

I’ve been learning and reading about personal development and positive psychology for around 17 years and I’ve realised that I haven’t really used my knowledge in practice much so I decided to share some interesting findings, tips, and techniques here with others.

  1. How in touch are you with your surroundings?

If you mean the human world – I feel very much connected. If you mean nature – it could be better (English weather isn’t very helpful in this though).

  1. What state doyou reside in?

I live in the UK.

  1. What is your favorite season?

Probably spring but I find some positive aspects in all of them!

  1. What movie is your all-time favorite?

Hmm … I don’t watch many movies. I’m not sure about a favourite one. Maybe Beautiful Mind…?  Currently I like comedies a lot because that’s what helps me relax the best.

  1. Which color is your favorite?

Right now… purple (and yellow!) I guess. 😉

  1. How often do you read books?

I try to read every day. I’ve recently noticed that I think too much about what I’m reading while I’m reading… Looking at my reading lists and books on my shelves… I feel I should read a lot faster!

  1. Do you have children?

Yes, a 4-year-old daughter and I’m 8 months pregnant now.

  1. Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Right-handed.

  1. What are your life goals?

To continue lifelong learning & personal growth.

I’d like to nominate a few bloggers who put effort into their posts and who inspire me to write with their great blogs, and these are:

  1. Carol Browne (https://authorcarolbrowne.wordpress.com/ )
  2. Philip Ruskins (https://thafriend.com/ )
  3. Positively Alissa (https://fightmsdaily.com/ )
  4. Omobolanle Adeniran https://beeade.wordpress.com/
  5. Theed (https://theeditorsjournal.wordpress.com/ )

Nominees! Please read the bit below re: the rules + questions from me which you need to answer in one of your blog posts. 

Each of the nominated bloggers needs to read about the award HERE and write a post about their nomination where they answer my questions (please see them below) as well as create other questions that they give to their nominees.  The rules for the nominees are in the post below.

My questions are:

  1. If you could be anyone, pick any career, what would that be and why.
  2. If you were a powerful politician who could make one important decision & change for your country– what would that be?
  3. If you were your own parent what would you do differently while bringing yourself up?
  4. Describe yourself in only one word.
  5. How are you getting on with pursuing your goals and dreams this year?
  6. Why do you think so many people out there are discouraged from studying and don’t do anything or much at all for their personal development?
  7. You won $20,000,000. What will you do with this money?
  8. If you could meet anyone from any century and have a long conversation with them who would that be and why?
  9. Is there one dream/goal that you always wanted to do in your life but you didn’t because of fear (e.g. fear of failure/criticism/ lack of confidence)?
  10. How happy are you in general on a scale from 1 to 10?

A bit for nominees now – the rules are below (and also here: https://theglobalaussie.com/liebster-award-2018/ ) . Good luck nominees! 🙂 

 

 

 

Personal Growth project update. Week 4.

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People who are interested in productivity know how valuable it is to plan and review goals but… they also have a tendency to overdo it and spend too much time on this… time which of course could be used for work that matters and actually moves things along, and leads to some progress!

Planning is crucial and only recently I’ve realised how powerful is to have a clear action plan and revise it regularly but by planning we don’t really tick any of our tasks off, by doing to-do lists we don’t really do any of these things that we should be doing. It’s easy to overdo the prep and planning bit then so we need to always keep checking that it’s balanced and ideally schedule some time for it, e.g. an hour at weekends and 10 minutes every morning.

How much time do you spend on planning your goals, tasks, activities?

It’s been another superbusy week:

  • I worked full time (I have to train a new person who will cover my maternity leave and work days seem more exhausting and intensive than ever before);
  • I reached a major milestone in my personal life – the start of the 8th month of pregnancy;
  • I had a few medical pregnancy-related appointments (soon it will be decided whether I will need to give birth earlier and how much earlier!).
  • On top of everything my 4-year-old was off sick
  • And I have to keep finding time to prepare things for the baby’s arrival (rooms arrangements, shopping, reading reviews of baby products, etc.).

I was trying to reconsider what are the most important bits and goals in my project, not for this year, but more narrowly for now – when I’m busy, about to give birth and still at work.

One of my goals was organising more outings with my daughter and spending more time with my family… however, when I thought about it more I decided it shouldn’t really be considered as a goal. It’s just a natural part of my life that matters and needs to be prioritised whenever I can. That’s it. It doesn’t have any deadlines and can’t be really specific enough or measured to classify it as a goal.

I wanted to improve my foreign-languages skills but really… that’s definitely not a priority right now. When I can I try to pay more attention to grammar or new foreign words (English and Portuguese) but that’s where my effort ends at the moment.

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I’ve decided to focus all my energy, time and attention mainly on writing and reading because that’s what’s really important to me right now in terms of my personal development.

I’ve also decided that monthly updates re: my Personal Growth project would be better than weekly ones. It will allow me to focus on my goals even more.

One of the most crucial tasks for the next week is to contact a few publishers with a book proposal and see what they think…

Well, fingers crossed!