Kira Newman, the managing editor of Greater Good, wrote an article about the recent release of the World Happiness Report. Each year for the past nine years, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network conducts a poll of individuals from every country. This year’s report is 212 pages and focused, as you would expect, on the impact of the pandemic on our wellbeing. My expectation and the expectation of those who conducted the poll was that given the devastation of the pandemic and the impact on people’s health, both physical and mental, job losses, financial and food insecurity, etc., the report would show a decrease in happiness levels. Surprisingly, there did not appear to be a change in people’s level of satisfaction with life.
The report authors wrote “one of the reasons why we showed so much resilience may have been the trust that many people have in their communities. To gauge that trust, researchers ask people around the world whether they believe their lost wallet would be returned by a neighbor, stranger, or police officer. Answering yes to that question seems to be vital to well-being—even more so than being employed or having high income.” They later added “The pandemic has provided many chances to see the kindness of others. If seeing these kindnesses has been a pleasant surprise, then the resulting increase in perceived benevolence will help to offset the more widely recognized costs of uncertain income and employment, health risks, and disrupted social lives.”
This week, our Wolf Group Capital team participated in our quarterly offsite meetings. Offsite, in Covid-speak meaning a Zoom meeting from the same place we have all been for the past year. If we had been in the office, that would have been offsite. At the end of the session, we asked the question “what positive lessons have I learned from this year of Covid 19?” Our staff kept coming back to the concept of community and gratitude. They noted that being able to count on their colleagues to lift them up when they were down and being part of a group that shared similar values was very comforting as we all faced the increased stress and anxiety during 2020. I hope that as the crisis continues to ease and life returns to whatever normal will be, we all remember the importance of our communities and continue to express our gratitude to those that lift us up.
This week’s selection is:
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
Intelligence is generally thought of as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world there are other cognitive skills that may be more important: the ability to rethink and unlearn. Think Again shows that we don't have to believe or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of beliefs that no longer serve us well and to appreciate mental flexibility over silly consistency. If knowledge is power, it is the wisdom to know what we don't know that really matters.