5 articles on searching for happiness

As we enter sleepy mid-August and once more contemplate the meaning of well, everything, from the beach, the all-important topic of “happiness” has re-emerged. Here’s a selection of the best happiness pieces published in recent weeks:

Use bad exam results as an opportunity to spring forward in life

Students sitting exams

Students in Britain will today be anticipating the results of their A Level exams with trepidation. Land top marks and they’re off to the uni of their dreams. A successful career and a property in Surrey await.

Get low grades and, bam, it’s the call centre.

Or perhaps not.

My A Level results were abysmal – two ‘E’s, a ‘C’ and a ‘D’.  My reaction was one of dismay and disbelief. But I deserved to get those terrible letters. I was a slacker, and even my best effort, Geography coursework, was risible (ironically it was about litter).

I was incredibly fortunate to get into university. Offered a place at the University of Hull, I was determined to work harder to thank whichever divine being got me there. I finished four years later with a more respectable result, and the ride had been fun too (while bumpy).

In the years in the “real world” since, I have failed and failed again. I have clambered back up on each occasion, often with immense difficulty. 2013 left me reeling, bruised, bloodied and battered in ways unprecedented. Head spinning, I sought to bounce back once more, and more or less succeeded. I will fail again, and will continue to fail until death, which of course is failure in itself.

Your school exam results will be the first of many big tests in life. Embrace whichever outcome comes your way.

Besides, university education is one of several options, and almost certainly the most expensive. You can start a business, join the workforce “early”, or get overseas experience – all of which are in all probability better career and life paths.

Eat tarantula in Cambodia

Fried tarantula, Romdeng restaurant in Cambodia
  • Experience: Eat fried tarantula in Cambodia
  • Where: Romdeng restaurant, Phnom Penh
  • Why:  Romdeng is a beautiful restaurant working to build the futures of former street children and marginalised young people in Phnom Penh. It has a gift shop, free WiFi and paintings by children. It also has fried spider (and stir-fried tree ants, if you’re still hungry)

Fried tarantula, Romdeng restaurant in Cambodia

open movement° connects digital nomads across the world


With the so-called gig economy on the rise, it’s of little surprise that caffeine-fuelled communities of shiny Mac owners are sprouting across cities. But there is little in the way of something that connects these micro-workers together with the resources needed to make them flourish…until now.

open movement° has emerged as a digital meeting place, connecting micro-workers with useful tools: http://movement.open.co At the time of writing, there are more than 600 hubs named on the open movement°  website located all over the world (from Brazil to Indonesia) across a very diverse range, from popups to makerspaces, and more than 70 tools/resources are listed that include websites, articles, apps and courses. The open movement° creators are looking for people to help build the digital meeting space:

We champion the hubs where people come together to make new ideas happen and the tools they use to create, sustain and grow these places.

You’re invited – please help us create this digital meeting place.

So there you go.

I should add at this point that open movement° has been built with the support and encouragement of my employer, the British Council, specifically the Creative Economy Team.

The rise of the gig economy

FT journo John Gapper writes about the new ‘gig’ economy – and at the time of writing it’s the publication’s most read article of the day. He talks about the end of the lifetime career and the rise of the self-employed, believing there to be a lot of potential in the new world of work:

Days earlier there was an op-ed in The Guardian by NYU professor Arun Sundarajan on the gig economy, The ‘gig’ economy is coming. He writes that while “empowering” about being a boss (a better work-life balance can be achieved) there is something reassuring about company benefits, regular work hours and a regular income:

These are exciting times, and greater individual empowerment can be no bad thing.