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If you haven’t registered yet. Not only that. we couldn’t do any of it without the expertise of the great many speakers we invite to present sessions and worksh ops at our events about the amazing work that’s being done here in Australia and overseas in the fields of psychology. education. I guarantee that after reading these. how to find meaning in your life. you’ll be seriously tempted. we have compiled eight such posts from our blog. how to maximise your potential and how to contribute to the lives of others. Of course. all featuring top notch presenters you will hear at Happiness & Its Causes 2014. it has been a huge hit with the literally thousands of delegates who have attended due to what many have said are its life changing effects. Our speakers are extraordinary individuals in terms of the information they share and the difference they are making to the wellbeing of society and our planet. e-newsletter and Happiness & Its Causes Facebook page and Twitter feed. Thinking then it could be a one-off. anthropology. spirituality and more.happinessanditscauses. sociology. although hoping it might sustain for another year or two. you’ll understand their appeal. we work hard putting together a p rogram designed to facilitate exploration of and discussion about the things that matter most to YOU – how to be happier. In our lat est eBook offering. how to be more creative. conservation.Hear from our speakers … We’ve come a long way since we held our first Happiness & Its Causes conference back in 2006. Mind & Its Potential in 2005. www. If you’ve attended any of our events.com. we’re delighted it has become an annual event. following the success of our first conference. We’re delighted to be able to share their messages through our Think & Be Happy blog. We often feature articles about upcoming speakers built around an interview or presentation they’ve already given. For every conference. neuroscience.au EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 .

PROFESSOR MIHALY CZIKSZENTMIHALYI IN THE FLOW If to lose oneself is to experience bliss. what literally happens because “our nervous system is incapable of processing more than 110 bits of information. this composer entered an alternative reality. When Czikszentmihalyi started on his quest 40 years ago to better cognise the causes of happiness. Czikszentmihalyi was intrigued by his use of the word ‘ecstatic’. writers. one of the greatest psychologists of our time. what can we do to more easily cultivate this state? The answer lies in research pioneered by Professor Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. in fact. painters and musicians who report experiencing total immersion in their craft don’t “have enough attention left over” for the usual human preoccupations. he “began to look at creative people … trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn’t expect either fame or fortune.” One person he interviewed was a composer who described feeling ecstatic whenever he composed music. which in Greek means “simply to stand to the side of something. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 . it’s no wonder those poets. Read the full blog here. Czikszentimihalyi says this is. and our skills and capacities are such that we’re able to meet this challenge.” Or to put it another way. Given creative endeavours use up even more bits.” What we now know about these fully absorbing ‘flow states’ is that anyone can ‘get in the zone’ under the right circumstances – specifically when we encounter a challenge that tests our skills. says Czikszentimihalyi adding that “their body disappears from their consciousness because they don’t have enough attention to do well something that requires a lot of concentration. and at the same time to feel that they exist. Not only that. he claimed to lose all sense of himself in the process.” That’s not very much – especially when you consider we apparently need 60 bits per second merely to process what someone is saying.

over 15.Since the first Happiness & Its Causes conference in 2006.000 people have been moved and inspired at what is now one of the world’s largest and most important forums on human happiness! .

Aren’t they stronger? Isn’t it the mind that translates the outer condition into happiness and suffering?” Certainly.” says Ricard.” Read the full blog here. we feel lousy and so do the people around us. That is the ground for mind training. whether it’s conscious or not. is according to Buddhism. many of us look for joy in all the wrong places.” It also doesn’t help that we overestimate our control of the outer world which is “limited. warmth and generosity. “a deep sense of serenity. Wrong says Ricard who explains that “pleasure is contingent upon time. . LINK. we know from experience that when we give in to our anger. “somehow is related to a deep profound desire for well-being and happiness. Ricard says. If we miss something it collapses. Matthieu Ricard. One big problem is we tend to equate happiness with pleasure. jealousy. says Ricard. a younger face. pride or greed. everyone benefits. and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way. The mistake many of us make in our quest for contentment is we look to externals: romantic love. It is something that changes by nature. His advice is “we look instead at inner conditions. But do we know that we can change our negative emotions. fulfilment. temporary and often illusory”. “That very sentence already reveals the doom of destruction of happiness: to have everything. material wealth. We also know that when we’re exuding love. a state that actually pervades and underlies all emotional states. Yet Ricard also makes the point that because happiness is a notoriously difficult mind state to define. traits and moods or are we simply resigned to living with them because we think they’re an inevitable part of being human? Ricard says that if we investigate the nature of mind or consciousness through practices such as meditation. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 SEE MATTHIEU IN ACTION.MATTHIEU RICARD THE HABITS OF HAPPINESS Everything anyone does. co-ordinator of Karuna-Shechen Humanitarian Projects and best-selling author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.” Happiness. on the other hand. If we could just nail these we’d be happy. aspires to. we’ll discover its primary quality is awareness and that because of this “there is a possibility for change because all emotions are fleeting. upon its object. dreams about.” So says French Buddhist Monk. upon the place.

Read the full blog here. American youth (and by extrapolation their Australian counterparts) are in the grip of a narcissism epidemic. celebrity-drenched media and permissive parenting. What Twenge and her colleagues have found.” And yes. One person who’s concerned about this relationship between digital technology and what she regards as excessive self -focus in today’s youth is Professor Jean Twenge. having analysed this data. “Even if it’s just at the personality trait level. One factor often cited as proof of this trend is the heavy use by many young adults of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Twenge has no qualms pointing the finger at what she regards as the combined effects of Internet technology. and not at that clinical [disorder] level. add ing that she’s been involved in several within-campus studies trying “to find out what the generational change [is] in narcissism. approximately 50. in particular social networking sites. But as Twenge says. a commonly used measure of narcissistic traits in individuals.” To t his end. with Narcissistic Personality Disorder at one end of the spectrum and good old fashioned vanity at the other. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 . there are a number of pro blems with it. the opportunity exists to post to literally tens of thousands if not millions of complete strangers utterly banal information about the minutiae of your everyday life.000 college students between 1982 and 2009 have filled out the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. is that where previously only about 17 percent of students scored very high in narcissism.PROFESSOR JEAN TWENGE THE NARCISSISM EPIDEMIC There’s a lot of talk about the rise in unhealthy self-love amongst the millennial generation (those born in the 1980s and 1990s). According to Twenge. we have this obsession with fame and celebrity [and] we have more materialistic values than we used to. For the first time ever in human history. with easy credit. given the increase in narcissism has been most marked since 2005-2006.” she says. “We have rising plastic surgery rates. a psychologist and leading researcher into narcissism and youth mental health. that figure has now leapt to 30 percent bearing in mind that narcissistic characteristics present in individuals to varying degrees.

In other words. If there’s one take home message in all of this. LINK. three to four of those hours resisting what we want and “a glorious guilt ridden half an hour” succumbing to a yearning we previously resisted. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 . PROFESSOR ROY BAUMEISTER THE SCIENCE OF WILLPOWER Self-control is a quality most of us take for granted. it’s that people with impressive self -control don’t resist desires more often. taking action all seem to draw on the same energy resource. having to make big decisions every day tend to deplete their store of willpower. To break it down. making decisions. we spend eight hours a day actively desiring. Yet few really understand self-control or its active ingredient willpower. Professor Roy Baumeister is a respected social psychologist who has worked extensively in the area of self-control and selfregulation. According to Baumeister. Not only that. without which our lives would very quickly descend into chaos. But what’s really interesting is that studies and real-life observations reveal that the basic energy (willpower) we use in self-control is finite within a set period of time. which he defines as the capacity to change and/or control your thoughts. They avoid temptation in the first place. “we are using our self-control all day every day to resist lots of desires”. after exerting self-control once. showing initiative. chances are we’ll cave in. Politicians. if presented with another demand for self-control soon after.WATCH ROY’S PRESENTATION. Which perhaps explains why people in positions of power and responsibility so often become mired in scandal. for example. Read the full blog here. emotions and impulses.

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hatred and greed.” Goodall lists many of the characteristics chimps share with us humans. These days. satellite navigation systems.000 across all of Africa today. environmentalist and UN Messenger of Peace who’s devoted much of her life to protecting chimpanzees and their habitat. compassion and generosity instead of ignorance. we have found that. They develop long-term affectionate and supportive bonds with their young and each other. What we’ve learned above all is how truly similar these creatures are to human beings. As Goodall points out. our knowledge about chimps and other hominids (gorillas and orang-utans) has exploded. an activity once thought to be the sole preserve of man. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 . She says that five decades on. there isn’t a sharp line dividing humans from the rest of the kingdom. and is reminded of how important it is not to lose hope in our potential to co-exist peacefully and sustainably with all of earth’s inhabitants by choosing to live with awareness. an internationally acclaimed primatologist. nothing ever changes. For example. If anyone is in a position to advocate on behalf of our closest nonhuman relatives. Read the full blog here. technology has “really transformed the way field biologists do their work” so that now thanks to DNA profiling. brain imaging techniques and other advances. But then one encounters individuals like Dr Jane Goodall. they can make tools. Goodall spends a lot of time travelling the world to raise awareness about the desperate plight of chimpanzees whose numbers have plummeted from around two million at the turn of the 20th century to about 150. “Over these 40-odd years that I and others have been studying chimpanzees and other great apes and … other mammals with complex brains and social systems. They’re capable of true compassion and altruism. it’s Goodall who’s been studying chimpanzees in Tanzania since 1960. chimps are “capable of performances that would have been thought completely impossible by science when I began. after all.” says Goodall.DR JANE GOODALL MAKING A DIFFERENCE It often seems that despite decades and decades of warnings from those in the know about the dire consequences we all face if our abuse of the planet continues.

“Inspirational. grounding. uplifting. Coming here is akin to plugging in to the main power station of love.” Catherine Gunn. joy and happiness and coming away recharged. QLD Health .

doing your civic duty. When Aristotle coined the word eudaimonia. Mackay says the good life can only be about engagement and relationships when you consider the following: “that love is the s ource of goodness in human society and that you can’t love all by yourself. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 .” In the last 10 years especially. “If we were to integrate them into our way of living – to make them part of who we are – many other manifestations of goodness would naturally flow from them. sacrificin g yourself to the common good.” Read the full blog here. what he calls the “three great therapies of ever yday life”. paradoxically. “what he was referring to was something that almost had nothing to with an emotional state … It was to do with being an engaged citizen. One of his phrases translates as entering into the full richness of human love and friendship. The Good Life: What makes a life worth living?. namely a “life lived for others.” Not that this is an especially novel insight. These are to listen attentively. Mackay says there are three particular disciplines that bring out the best in us and in those around us.” says Mackay. In order to lead a good life based on the golden rule of ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’. He writes in his book. He says we’d all be much better off thinking less about our own wellbeing an d more about that of others.HUGH MACKAY THE GOOD LIFE Having spent decades researching how Australians think and feel about their lives. to lead to depression and misery. to apologise sincerely and to forgive generously. Mackay says he’s become very conscious of what he calls “the deep malaise in Australian soci ety” characterised by this dawning realisation that ever increasing material wealth cannot fill the existential feeling of lack that is the human condition. in which he posits that our relentless pursuit of happiness has tended. leading social researcher Hugh Mackay has written his latest book. Hence his definition of a happy life is a good life.

Read full blog here. In contrast. Griffiths says he began “filling up books full of memories. Hardly surprising that Griffiths today is a household name – especially if that household has children. . the first volume in the much loved Just! Series. “But I loved entertaining.” He obviously had a flair for it because his school mates were his biggest fans.” Even as a kid himself. the Bad books and the Bum series. those publishers he sent his early manuscripts to just sent him rejection letters. In the process of doing this. Reflecting on his own very different childhood in this regard. Griffiths taught for a few years at a school in rural Victoria where he was shocked to discover many of the students thought “reading was boring”.” he says. himself that he would then share with the class in order to kick start them into writing about their own experiences. the Just! series.” After graduation. During this next phase. And taking the best of what I wrote and photocopying [the material] into little self published books.” This eventually gave him the confidence to quit teaching in 1991 in order to pursue writing full time. “and the crafting of words and realised that’s where I should really be putting my efforts. some of whom joined forces with him to form “the greatest rock and roll band in the world” singing parodies of the most popular songs of the day by the likes of Alice Cooper and David Bowie. Griffiths continued to self-publish “little books” which he sold at markets where a growing – albeit small – fan base convinced him there was an audience for his nutty sense of humour. he liked nothing better than to write his own stories and cartoons “for no other reason than it was fun. . The book came out in 1994 and was the first of many that went on to sell tens of thousands of copies and earn the author rave reviews and numerous awards.ANDY GRIFFITHS HOW ONE AUTHOR CAME TO CAPTIVATE YOUNG READERS For those parents and kids familiar with the vast oeuvre of Andy Griffiths which includes the Treehouse books. Even while at university. Griffiths had the idea to write “little embarrassing” stories about when he was a kid EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 WATCH ANDY’S PRESENTATION. LINK. it will probably come as no surprise to learn that the children’s author has always “loved the childish imagination … the creativity of trying to make something totally ridiculous like it could be possible. Griffiths continued to play in punk bands despite what he describes as his lack of musical aptitude. then dreams … and I was soon creating fiction. Griffiths says he received 12 of these before his fortune took a dramatic turn after illustrator Terry Denton agreed to illustrate Just Tricking!.

King agrees that religious traditions have been a rich source of wisdom for her. family suicide and then when she was in her early 30s.’” Hence King defines recovery as ideally a process during which we deepen our self-understanding (namely through connecting with what she describes as our “first nature”) and re-order our priorities. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 WATCH PETREA IN ACTION. depression or disaster. how she was able to “explore and discover … the heart that can contain all of the anguish without losing any capacity to love” continues to be an inspiration to all those who flock to Quest seeking out King’s wisdom and guidance. well-known cancer survivor and Founding Director of the Quest for Life Foundation. . where we say.” Despite having what sounds very much like a flash of insight into ultimate reality. ‘That’s it. ‘well. a serious cancer diagnosis that.PETREA KING THE GIFT OF SUFFERING It might not feel like it at the time but many of us would agree that after we’ve emerged from a period of blackness. and suddenly the whole physical world seemed to be completely transparent. Read full blog here. react like this’ without ever questioning. probably ever since she was a child and experienced what she can only describe as a moment that occurred quite serendipitously when she “was simply running around the side of the house. a centre established to help those facing (according to the website) any of “life’s Ds. there’s a sense the experience has changed us in a positive way. “You’ll often hear people say. King still had her own rocky road to travel including childhood illness. The story she tells of surviving this and other ordeals. death. what is your first nature?’” Admittedly. whether it’s a diagnosis. brought her face to face with a “black hole” of painful feelings she’d been resisting – to detrimental effect – her entire life.” King says that it’s often only through trauma that people take the time to consider the bigger existential questions. feel. Certainly many can relate to that “wonderful place where [we] get to in life. She says. glorious something that was in everything. LINK. something’s got to change and it’s me. such revelations are often preceded by a crisis but then that’s usually what’s needed to divert us from the worldly and often trite preoccupations that keep us from turning our attention inward. One person who’s all too familiar with this suffering-induced metamorphosis is Petrea King. and there was this blinding. she says. divorce. ‘It’s second nature to me to think.

DR JANE GOODALL – MAKING A DIFFERENCE Jane will present ‘Sowing the seeds of hope’ on Day 2 of the conference. EXTRAORDINARY SPEAKERS – HAPPINESS & ITS CAUSES 2014 .THE SCIENCE OF WILLPOWER Roy will present ‘Willpower – how to make it work for you’ on Day 1 of the conference as well as a post-conference workshop ‘ Willpower – rediscovering the greatest human strength’. HUGH MACKAY – THE GOOD LIFE Hugh will present ‘What makes a life worth living’ on Day 2 of the conference.THE HABITS OF HAPPINESS Matthieu will present ‘Cultivating altriusm – a path to happiness’ on Day 1 of the conference as well as the pre-conference workshop ‘Towards a more altruistic society’. MATTHIEU RICARD . PROFESSOR JEAN TWENGE .Additional speaker information: PROFESSOR MIHALY CZIKSZENTMIHALYI Mihaly will present ‘Living in flow – the secret of happiness’ on Day 1 of the conference as well as a half -day post-conference workshop ‘Flow – the psychology of happiness’.THE NARCISSISM EPIDEMIC Jean will present ‘The narcissism epediemic – causes and solutions’ on Day 1 of the conference as well as a post-conference workshop on the same topic.HOW ONE AUTHOR CAME TO CAPTIVATE YOUNG READERS Andy will present ‘Tour of the treehouse’ on Day 1 of the conference. ANDY GRIFFITHS . PETREA KING . PROFESSOR ROY BAUMEISTER .THE GIFT OF SUFFERING Petrea will present ‘Peace in practice – caring for ourselves and others’ on Day 1 of the conference.

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