Like Robert Green Ingersoll, I believe everyone should be helped to get what happiness she can out of life, that all happiness that breaks through the clouds of misfortune should be enjoyed and that no one should fail to pick up every jewel of joy that can be found in her path. This requires that we all get what good we can of the truly dramatic, of music, art and enjoyment. Everyone should be encouraged to enjoy liberty of mind as well as body, which entails finding out the conditions of happiness and having the wisdom to live in accordance with those conditions.
Most Americans are not getting such help. There are many institutions, governmental and otherwise, that could help, if the goal of added happiness were properly recognized as a priority foundation of good health. Worksite wellness programming might not be the most promising vehicle for advancing happiness, but it is the one area where wellness promoters have the best chance to make an impact. Added happiness would be a worthy new goal of worksite wellness; nothing else seems as likely to enrich employee satisfaction while boosting performance and productivity.
In addition to a goal of increasing employee happiness, another goal for wellness education might be promoting common sense. Naturally, nearly everyone thinks she already has common sense, so strategically this educational objective must be billed and promoted under another banner. I’d recommend critical thinking, save for a similar problem as with the term common sense—most people believe they already think critically. Alas, there is strong evidence that is definitely not the case.
Do you doubt it? Consider the reality that Americans are besotted with nonsensical beliefs. Large numbers of adults allowed to handle sharp objects and operate heavy machinery believe in the literal nature of ESP. They also believe in psychic and other forms of paranormal phenomena. There’s more. Many believe in UFO sightings, ghosts, miracles, witchcraft, devil possessions and exorcisms, crackpot alternative medicines (e.g., homeopathy and therapeutic, non-contact hand-waving over a patient as a serious treatment modality) and, of course, the literal truth of preposterous bible and other holy book tales. These have been passed down by word of mouth from around the time of the Bronze Age. It all stupifies and boggifies the skeptical, critical and reason-based mind.
Marty Kaplan recently published a piece that began as follows: “If you think the widening chasm between the rich and the rest spells trouble for American democracy, have a look at the growing gulf between the information-rich and-poor.” (See Marty Kaplan, “You Will Be Shocked at How Ignorant Americans Are,” Alternet, November 6, 2013.)
Well, I wasn’t shocked at all. The evidence that vast numbers of workers could benefit from common sense education, artfully promoted and ever so delicately presented at worksites the land over, has been building for years. The Kaplan article is only the latest instance wherein persuasive data are brought to bear in support of the obvious—that common sense training is desperately needed in schools, clubs and company worksite wellness programming.
A new Pew study revealed that fully one quarter of American adults watch only Fox News. Furthermore, a majority of citizens watch no news at all—leading the author of the report to conclude that, as far as knowledge of current events is concerned, most “may as well be living on the moon.”
If Fox viewers were to depart for the moon, the average common sense score of those left behind would increase dramatically. Since such a migration is unlikely, initiatives of a practical wellness nature should be considered. Therefore, I recommend a new focus at the worksite consisting of practical lessons on effective thinking (plus the aforementioned attention to strategies for understanding pathways to greater happiness. Boosting this skill will surely add to happiness.)
For a practical example of what such teaching might entail, watch this outstanding 30 minute tutorial on how easily old habit patterns lead us astray and into truly bad decisions. In some cases, these all too human tendencies prevent even the skeptical among us from recognizing deficiencies in our common sense reasoning.
The Youtube video features Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps, the producer of HuffPost Live, interviewing physicist Leonard Mlodinow about his book, “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.”