Happiness as a Function of Purpose #4 #cong22


Is happiness a function of purpose? If so, is it really possible to ‘make’ oneself happy through effort and self-direction?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. There are many different types of happiness.
  2. Some types of happiness are passivity-based, and some are effort-based.
  3. Passivity-based happiness results in higher peaks of joy, but is more fleeting.
  4. Effort-based happiness is driven through purpose, and is longer lasting.

About Craig Brown

Craig Brown works in the field of people and performance.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in literature from Acadia University in Canada, and his MBA from Kingston University in London.

Craig was honoured to be the first non-Irish person to receive a Galway People of the Year Award for his work with local charities.

Craig lives in south Galway with his wife and three children.

Contacting Craig Brown

You can connect with Craig on LinkedIn.

By Craig Brown

Why do we want to be happy?

Have you ever really thought about it? We all know we want to be happy, but do any of us really know why?

There is considerable evidence to suggest that being happy gave our forebearers an evolutionary advantage in surviving . Being happy… ‘made us fitter, more attuned to our environment, more social, more energetic—and because happy people were more apt to survive, they were more likely to pass on their happiness genes.’

In modern terms, it turns out that ‘people who are happy make more money, are more likely to get married, have stronger immune systems, and more friends.’ So, all in all, it seems like a good idea to try to be happy.

We place so much emphasis on happiness, that some countries have attempted to embed happiness into their national fabric. The Americans have enshrined the right to the pursuit of happiness in their Declaration of Independence. In Bhutan, they have gone so far as to create a Gross National Happiness index.

Here’s the thing though. What surprised me when doing my research is that there are in fact many different types of happiness , which broadly fall under two different categories.

Passivity-based happiness can include things like joy, excitement, pleasure, and glee. These tend to result from unexpected events, or events with little or no pre-planning – like running into an old friend walking down the street, going on a roller coaster, or finding a €20 note in an old coat. The sensation is fuelled by dopamine and only occurs in reaction to unexpected or semi-unexpected events. The feeling can be very strong but is often fleeting sometimes leaving a sense of emptiness afterward.

Effort-based happiness can include things like pride, optimism, and perhaps even love and contentment. While some of these forms of happiness can happen accidentally, they are, by and large, a function of effort applied to purpose.

For example, if I spend months building a house, in the end I can definitely feel a sense of pride, and probably also contentment and optimism for the future. Rather than having a large spike of dopamine associated with passivity-based happiness, effort-based happiness is longer-lasting. You can also live it over and over again as you remember the effort it took to build your house. The same sense of well-being can also be applied to how you feel after working hard on your job, your marriage, and raising your children.

And what is the fuel that drives effort-based happiness?


Purpose gives us the energy, stamina, and drive to complete those things that we deem worthwhile.

In summary, in order to find lasting happiness, first find purpose and then apply effort. The results will be long-lasting.

Global Population Decline: Good or Bad? #12 #cong20


It is generally accepted that the global population will begin an irreversible decline within the next 20 to 80 years, in fact it has started in many countries already. What are both the positive and negative implications?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Many countries have already seen a decline in population.
  2. Replacement rates falling below 2.1 is an indicator.
  3. Economies may suffer, but individuals may not suffer economically.
  4. The environment may benefit as a result.

About Craig Brown

 Craig Brown works in the field of people and performance.  He obtained a undergraduate degree in literature from Acadia University in Canada, and his MBA from Kingston University in London.  He was honoured to receive a 2020 Galway People of the Year Award for his work with charity.

Craig lives in south Galway with his wife and three children.

Contacting Craig Brown:

You can connect with Craig on LinkedIn.  

By Craig Brown.

The UN predicts that the global population will level off toward the end of this century, while other credible sources put it much earlier at 2040, seeing an overall decline in the world’s population after that.

In fact, a number of countries have already begun the decline. For example, Italy hit a peak population of 60.8million in 2015. It now stands at 60.5 million and is projected to fall to 54.4million by 2050. Japan saw a peak population of 128.1million in 2008 which has fallen to 126.5 today. There are predicted to be 107million Japanese by 2040. There are many other examples including Russia, Germany and Venezuela.

While there can be simple explanations for short-term population decline, such as war, famine or seeking economic opportunities elsewhere, long-term population decline seems a more general and lasting trend.

Can we predict when a country’s population will begin to decline? Maybe. The population replacement rate is the average number of children each woman must have for the population of a country to remain stable. This number is generally accepted to be 2.1 (the additional 0.1 takes into account children who themselves do not survive to childbearing age).

Japan’s replacement rate fell below 2.1 in 1974. 41 years later the population began to fall. Italy’s replacement rate fell under 2.1 in the late 1940’s, with the population beginning to fall some 65 years later. It would seem that the population of a country declines once the generation with the sub 2.1 fertility rate begins to pass away. The United Kingdom’s fertility rate fell below the 2.1 threshold in 1973, while for the Republic of Ireland, it was in 1990.

Why does this happen? Families begin to have fewer children for a couple of main reasons; the urbanization of a nation means that there is less pressure from extended family on women to have more children. It also means that children are no longer a financial asset on the farm, but a financial liability in the towns and cities. Wide access to birth control also allows women to decide when and how many children to have.

But are falling populations a good or bad thing? Like many things in life, this is a complicated matter.


  1. An obvious negative would be a potentially failing economy with fewer potential ‘customers’. But a declining population would like also mean fewer competitors as well.
  2. As people are generally living longer, this will put pressure on a shrinking workforce to support the aged.
  3. We may also see a decline in innovation as innovation generally comes from younger adults.


  1. Fewer people may put less pressure on the environment for resources.
  2. GDP per capita (as opposed to national GDP) seems to actually rise once a population begins to decline, as experienced in Russia, Japan, Germany and many eastern European countries. While declining population may not be good for government coffers, it seems to work well for the individual.

Is there anything we can do to reverse global population decline? Is it even a good idea to try?