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Luke Ambler on the Health, Wealth and Happiness Report

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Happiness in the Health, Wealth and Happiness Report: The Pandemic (3/3)

LifeSearch CEO Tom Baigrie hosts Ally Millar, Baz Moffatt, Davinia Tomlinson, Luke Ambler and Nina Skero in the Health, Wealth and Happiness conversations*.

Together with Cebr, LifeSearch compiled three brand new indices to deliver an accurate reading of health, wealth and happiness levels in the UK.

In these three conversations, our experts further pull apart the report, exploring its findings and relating them to their own experiences and expertise.

This episode, the last of a 3-part series, is focused on Happiness, how we’ve changed priorities and perception through the pandemic, and what’s in store in the future.

Tom Baigrie - Dav, Angus tells me that you're in St. Kitts.

Davinia Tomlinson - I am!

Tom - Goodness me.

Davinia - Look out of the window, look out of the window!

Tom - Oh, my goodness me. Oh dear must be such a struggle staying happy there. I don't know how you do it. Anyway, so you swapped Central London for that? I mean, I think that's a mad decision. 

Davinia - I know, why would you? No, it's lovely!

Angus Baigrie - Welcome back to the final episode of our epic three part series, the health, wealth and happiness conversations here. Here now for your listening, pleasure, happiness, now and tomorrow, which comes off the back of the launch of our pandemic health, wealth and happiness report. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then I would suggest heading back to Episode One - Health. And if you want more information, head to lifesearch.com/hwh and follow us in all of your favorite social media places. But enough from me, you've already heard Tom, CEO of LifeSearch talking to Davinia, our wealth expert about St. Kitts, nice one Dav, and they are joined as ever by Ally, Baz, Luke and Nina. So here they are!

Tom - When we talk about happiness Ally one of the findings in the research was that 31% of people found working from home stressful.

Ally Millar - I think the other way, obviously, the flip side of that is that we can say that two thirds of people, you know either find no difference in their other productivity or stress levels working from home or actually enjoyed it more. I think what we've seen in the, certainly the way that the trends have panned out is that people, I think, have a differing reaction to the prospect of working from home just basically based on their age and stage in life.

Angus - That's Ally Miller, author of LifeSearch's health wealth and happiness report, who heads up the creative agency Fall of Man.

Ally - And you know, it's not a massive revelation to find out that young people who are perhaps in you know, more cramped urban areas at the beginning of their career, they're going to crave the office, they're going to crave the workplace because you know, trends have moved in this direction to say that, you know, younger people actually begin to embrace and pine for the work family, where they delay having, you know, their own, and the working from home dynamic really does favour parents, people have been able to claw back, I think we worked out that people have been able to claw back something like 44 minutes from the work day into the leisure day or into the downtime of the day. So I think I mean, as ever, it's a really mixed picture, the way that the stats have panned out. But I think in terms of being able to create the most advantageous environment for working from home. I know that certain organizations check in with people's mental health on a day to day basis, are you having a three out of five day or 45 day or a one or a five day? What can we do to you know, improve things? So I think that there are solutions waiting there for us, we obviously just haven't had the impetus or we haven't been forced to tap into those solutions at this scale, you know, in entertainment history.

Tom - That's a fascinating set of insights. At LifeSearch. We've actually had for a number of years, a team, we call our Listening Ears team, and actually there's a podcast, can I plug another podcast on our podcast? I certainly can. The previous podcast on this channel interviewed them. And it's it's an amazing insight into how much good a simple structure which doesn't provide full counseling just provides a listening ear and guidance to people who are just having a terrible day or having a few too many bad days and who are therefore struggling. And frankly, we've all been there at some point in the cycle. That's been a fascinating way in which we've managed to help our people with their mental health. I think what what that leads us onto is the question of contentment. Now that the research found that just under half of us all 46% are less happy now than they were at the start of the pandemic. What would be your tips for those people still badly affected in terms of their contentment? What would be your tips for achieving greater contentment?

Luke Ambler - Yeah, I think that's a really interesting one. I think happiness as a whole is going to continue to go down because we're living in a society where everyone compares to the neighbors, compares to strangers.

Angus - That's Luke Ambler, our happiness coach and founder of Andy's Man Club

Luke - If I look back at my granddad, my Irish granddad. He looked in paper every week to see who died, weirdly just what he used to do, and he'd go attend their funeral out of a mark of respect if he knew them, but he wouldn't have known what holiday people were going on, what shoes they just bought. What What they just had? What job interview they'd had? And I think we're living in a world, where what is happiness? You know, I think it's a mis sold conception that everyone can be happy. Happiness comes and goes, tips for contentment, and often there is tips and often these activities for contentment. I think there's one mindset shift and it's what an 11 year old girl told me in Burnley when she told me her favorite quote, which was when you appreciate everything that you have you have everything that you need. And I think too much now everyone's looking extrinsically rather than inside, you know, it's an internal job is contentment. It's like, what do you have in your life? Who do you have? It's quite easy to look at everything you don't have, it's easy to look at everying you can't have right now. And that has been biggest thing of pandemic, we've been told everything that we can't have, but the ones who have succeeded in this pandemic mentally, the ones who've gone, okay, I can't go to gym but I'll do a home workout, okay, I can't do this. So I'll do that. There's a lot of activities that we are able to do. But it's easy to get bogged down with the things that we can't do in it. So for me, contentment comes out appreciation, it comes out of gratitude. And I see these type of words getting thrown around everywhere, nowadays, which sounds amazing. But I'm talking about like real gratitude, like, genuinely like feeling what you're saying. And like feeling on a daily basis. And building on that, it's easy to get bogged down in it with everything that we can't have. So that'll be mine, I think happiness is going to continue to dwindle, unless we do get a grip of that thing between our ears and start to look at the things that we do have.

Davinia - I completely agree with what you're saying. And actually that 11 year old that you spoke to is wise beyond her years, and really sounds like she's got an amazing foundation for her entire life. But I think I actually would challenge or counter the point that there isn't a formula for achieving contentment, because maybe there isn't a formula per se, but I definitely think that it's not. And this is kind of tough love Dav speaking, I don't think it's okay for us as adults to say, you know, we have no control over our contentment. So your point about gratitude, I think is spot on. But I think that there are practical things that we can do to to help us to recognize that and it might be spending five minutes a day gratitude journaling, which may sound like a woowoo thing to do. But when you start to write things down, and you see those things compound over days and weeks and months, and then you read them back, the feeling the overall sense of wellbeing that you get from, you know, reflecting on the fact that things may not necessarily be as bad as how you catastrophize them in your mind. That's powerful. I think there's also some discipline that we need to exercise over what we allow ourselves to consume, because nobody's forcing social media down our throats. We can delete the apps, we can control how much time we spend on various apps. And so I think, sometimes I think we, it's easy for us to step into the realms of Oh, you know, I went on social media, and I saw my friend doing this or that. And I think we have to take some responsibility for the extent to which we allow that to pollute our minds and assault our senses, we have to take a step back and say, I'm not going on there because I feel much better when I reflect on what's happening within my life, and reflect on the things that I'm able to control. And you know, see the joy in that.

Luke - Completely agree about journaling. I brought out a journal called BEE YOU journal, I'm not plugging in and I completely encourage people to do that exact same thing in the morning. But what where like your talking about tough love, wouldn't it be great to get to a point where you can go on social media and it not effect you, that's why I'm saying so like, rather than try put stuff off so like not okay, I'm not, for example, if you're on a diet, if you restrict yourself completely, where you never eat bad food at all, I don't think that's quite good for you, is it? Where, you've got to be completely everything controlled. What I'm saying is, be able to go on social media. And if your mindset says, I see that my friend is on holiday, and he's having an amazing time. It looks like he's got a perfect girlfriend perfect life. But accepting that I've also been on holiday, took a picture of my girlfriend and had an argument straight after, accepting that. So that's what I'm saying. So it's like a level up. So you're saying, okay, like at first you maybe have to control what you are seeing on social media. But when you can get to a point where you know, that behind every picture is just a life just like yours. That's when I think that you become content. That's why I'm saying look inside first and anything external don't affect what's going on inside because you don't allow it to because you understand that you're accepting yourself aware enough to go shit like I know that whatever they've bought or whatever the thing isn't gonna make them happy. And I don't need to try chase to make me happy, because contentment's an inside job. So I completely agree. But I think you got to get to a point where you've got that control. But but in a sense that you don't have to completely limit yourself to everything. So yeah, I agree.

Ally - You can actually can attribute I guess a psychometric scoring to the value of writing a gratitude list, it's proven to you know, a scored degree that that helps one's mental well being for the day or for the week. I think there's an interesting stat that came out in the consumer research that we did to under pin the report which kind of sits somewhere in the middle of what you're both saying and it's that trust in social media influencers is actually taken a real nosedive during the pandemic, and social media influencers. I mean, their whole brand architecture relies on public trust, especially the heaviest social media users are younger people and women and they've lost the most ground in those two groups. So it could be the pandemic effect it might right itself in you know, a few weeks or months time. Perhaps they've been caught up in the you know, the tail winds of the fake news and of the you know, the antivirus pro-virus, anti vaccine pro vaccine kind of rhetoric that we've all been bombarded with. But there's something quite interesting happening, I think on social media, where the trust leavers are kind of moving in directions that they haven't necessarily been seen for the last 10 years in the social media era. And I think it'll be quite interesting to see how that kind of bears out.

Baz Moffat - I was just gonna say that kind of, I think in the world of fitness, where I've come from, it's, you know, pre pandemic, it was like, it was super motivational, and it was super like high energy and it was super in your face. And it's like, if you set yourself a goal, and you can lose this or you can do this. And that's not what people want right now.

Angus - The Voice you're hearing right now is Baz Moffat LifeSearch's health coach, women's health expert and former Olympic Rower,

Baz - So like oh, my God, like so that was how you think back to that first announcement of Boris Johnson when he said, like, We're going into lockdown, like, all the fitness people got on and there was that, you know, there was Joe Wicks bouncing around and everyone was like, all these celebrities were getting on the bandwagon. But then over time, people don't want that. And they were using exercise for different reasons. They didn't want to be beasted by session. And I think that they stopped enjoying what the fitness influencers were saying. And I think it was those that were like those that were authentic, genuinely authentic, and said, God, you know what, like, I'm, I'm really struggling, I really don't like this. They're the people that like that got cut through, not the people that just pretended that they they were all great and they presented in full makeup and like full, you know, fake tan and bouncing around. It was just like, Oh, come on, you need to connect with what what real people are experiencing here.

Tom - You know, you've said the one word that I've that has been going around my head throughout the pandemic, which is authentic. I do think we've automatically all become much more ourselves, Dav you talked about the mum you and the work you and the fact that you can now blend the two quite happily. And at LifeSearch one of the best things I ever said was was in the first weeks I said LifeSearch does not mind if you're our customers here, your children screaming, it's okay, put them on your knee and bet you the customer will empathize with you because they probably got kids too. So don't worry about it. So authenticity and being real, I think has been greatly encouraged. What really worries me and Nina, I don't know from your perspective, yourcrystal ball gazer of the highest order. How can authenticity survive the reintroduction of the real world? How can we how can we keep the interesting bits of good that have come into our psyches through the suffering of the pandemic, as opposed to just go back to the way we were before? Because I don't think anyone ever anyone really wants to Helter Skelter flat out all the time, but how can how can we avoid that happening to us?

Nina Skero - There's various, I guess, ways to approach that question. I guess from this sort of, you know, crystal ball gazing economics aspects, you know, we have been trying to answer questions like, you know, most people that have been working from home want to keep working from home at least part of the time, even if you know, doing so entirely, they've found it stressful and unpleasant, they still I think, still, there's quite a large number of people that want to keep some of the features that have arisen.

Angus - And just in case you're wondering, that's CEBR's CEO, economist, Nina Skero talking.

Nina - So I think, sort of in the next period. And you know, we mentioned earlier, a lot of us are hopeful that this is kind of the last phase of the of the pandemic, whether that's gonna end up being true or, or not, it's hard to say, but if we assume for a second that it is. The next big question is how much of our new way of life is here to stay? And how much of it is going to fall by the wayside? And how do we consciously make sure that the parts of our you know, the new habits that we're going to end up keeping are the ones that are we're going to want to keep and it's also not very clear cut to say well, which are the habits that we want to keep, you know, if you are someone that has absolutely loved working from home, if you're someone that has really enjoyed that, then for you, that's something you're going to want to try to keep if you're somebody who is, I don't know a dry cleaner, or a local lunch shop that's located in the middle of a bunch of tall business buildings, then you're going to hope that that's something that's going to turn out to be a really, you know, short term impact of the pandemic. So it's very hard to say what we want to keep what we want to go back to the old ways.

Tom - Well, I wonder if that doesn't start to draw us to a conclusion if I asked the others then so what should we keep to improve the the sum of human happiness and Ally I wonder, does the research throw up any particular aspects of life that have increased happiness?

Ally - As always, in these situations, you do get something of a tale of, you get a fat middle and you get two extremes and the fat metal was that for a lot of people life didn't change all that much. And then at one extreme, which I'll go into you had things that got notably worse and for another extreme you've got things that got considerably better, the better you got depended on your starting point and the starting point on various socio economic variables or measures. If you had savings in the bank, if you had decent job if you had, you know, some degree of security be it in your house or whatever. And the more people you had around as well was another variable, the more people you have around that, that, you know, the more likely you are to have sort of almost enjoyed the lockdown experience. There was an episode of newsnight, that I vividly remember at the very beginning of the pandemic, where Emily Maitlis went into something of a filibuster. And she talked about how the rhetoric at the time was that rich and poor, the pandemic was affecting everyone equally. And she went off on a tanget and said that's absolutely not the case. The BBC came in for a whole lot of criticism on the grounds that it breached this impartiality or it got a little bit political, and in a sense, it did, but there was nothing wrong and what she was saying. So there is a material link between what people experienced in the pandemic and the starting point. And I think it's, it's one of these things that possibly needs to be addressed. And in the recovery whatever shape and form that takes is that the you know, we know the socio economic groups that were hardest affected by the measures taken and COVID's name and gig economy workers, let's say, people who live in busy households, urban ares who are reliant on on public transport, key workers, health workers they were more exposed to not only the the pandemic or the the virus itself, but the measures taken in its name, and most likely to be adversely affected, you know in the wake. And these are things that these are smaller groups, smaller subsets of subsets, but the extreme experiences the extreme pandemic experiences, which aren't necessarily going to reflect in the national averages and the indices are the ones where people really need to put the magnifying glass and focus resource because that's where the real hurt is going to be felt, I think in six months, 12 months, 18 months time.

Tom - It's interesting that we saw according to the global stats for the UK's happiness plummeted further than other countries and is now bouncing back faster than other countries it seems we're we're a bit of a yoyo in any ideas on what society, you can pin it put it all on the government if you like, but any ideas with society and what individuals and communities and government what is the what is the catchphrase, build back better? That you know, that sounds right to me as a concept What on earth does it mean what what should we all be doing to build back better not just ourselves but those around us? And those we know who've been hardest hit?

Luke - I think it's about about looking at the lessons that we've learnt. Yes, I think some of the best lessons in life come from the earliest times don't they? I know in my life it has anyway like any shit I've been through that's when I've learned the biggest lessons I know for me I can only speak personally, I know that I'll be spending a lot more time quality time with my kids I'll be a lot more present than I have been you know I were very guilty in past of not so but what we can all do ourselves is take stock take stock of what you've done. I know a lot of people where I'm from, we've loved getting outdoors. We are very lucky where where I live in Yorkshire that you know we're in God's own country aren't we? And we can literally go into moores any point I've seen families out walking and doing stuff that they will normally do you know where kids used to have iPads stuffed in the face and adults be on phones yeah it's still there. But I think people are more aware of the benefits of getting outdoors enjoying nature so when you bouncing back I said two weeks ago just before world opened up it's gonna open up and it's going to open up real quick real quick and it's gonna get quite overwhelming. I know personally my missus has gone she's got her own business she's gone back to work. I've got kids club every single night diary has gone from being pretty flexible to pretty much down to the minute and and that creates its own pressures and stresses. So it's like just taking stock taking a minute just to realize what were good. Don't lose sight of them Saturdays Sundays with your family, if you've got family, if you hadn't connecting with friends, you're allowed to go back outdoors now. And just looking at what's important in your life. Getting back to those roots, it'd be quite easy quickly to get back into material game, to chasing stuff to be out there all the time before you know it. And certainly those lessons, they'll be five years ago, and you'll be talking about this thing called the pandemic that happened. And how it's all back to normal. And my question is, is what do you want a normal to be?

Baz - I'm just gonna echo really what Luke said like a year ago, we had to self isolate for two weeks and I had a four and a five year old and we live in a flat in London and I was like, holy shit, how on earth are we going to manage that? And it was amazing. They absolutely thrived throughout the whole of this locked down and it wasn't because there were sat on iPads or phones all day at all. They just played and played and played and they slept together in their bed they like they bonded as brothers and it's just been So good for them. And, and it just even when we came out of that two weeks of lockdown, I was like, alright, we're going out now, they're like nah! And I'm like are you kidding, like we've been stuck in this flat. And it just and since then it's like, we just have days where we stay in our pajamas all day, and we have amazing days. And it's taken away the pressure of me of like, what I need to do to be a good parent is like, you know what, like, the kids just want you they don't, they don't, they just want you to be with them. I'm competitive being an ex athelete. And I get pulled into this, like, oh, all these other kids are doing all these clubs. And all these parents are doing this. And I'm like, you know what, I actually know what our family needs now. And I think without this lockdown, I would never, I would never have trusted how little we need to do. And now I really do.

Ally - I've got a wee boy who went from four to five in fact just as the first lockdown hit, He went from 3/4, and then recently went from four to five. And another one instantly on the way, my wife is nine months pregnant right now. And as a side note, thank you Luke. I kind of thought that there would be more of a spike in our birth rate during COVID than we actually saw. In fact, the opposite happened. UK's birth rate went south. Whereas I think a lot of people possibly expected that for obvious reasons, it might do the opposite. But I think what I found quite interesting is my little boy who 25% of his life now has been during COVID teams that side of me, that side troubles me slightly into how that will pan out. We've got a whole generation of kids who have delayed exams, deffered exams, remember the fiasco from you know, 12 months ago or slightly less. So that side of things, you know, possibly the repercussions of that could still be in store. And it's worth sort of, you know, bearing that in mind that a whole generation of students have had that education absolutely upset, my little boy is at the kind of nursery stage so his developmental stages luckily for us, I mean, he's been going through all that in house. So we've been able to spend just that bit more time without as people have said, without the pressures of feeling like we need to send them to every after school club under the sun, because the Jones' are doing that. I do know that, you know there is a generation of students who are possibly going to find themselves on the back foot and days to come as a result of the pandemic experience. And you know, that's a potential hurdle that is going to have to be addressed.

Tom - I don't argue with you at all, and anything you've said. But I do think that the protecting the space, the time at home, the bonding, you will have done with your wee boy is at an entirely different level to the bonding I did with Angus when he was at that age because I was running around like a mad dog running a business having meetings 24/7 Yeah, making sure I did whatever fatherly duties I was ordered to do. Whereas a year where your children have been in your presence and you in their's for a whole year, that's Wow, when last did that happened to mankind, both parents, I mean, that's a thing. And I would say for all the academic struggles, that... you know what? academics, it's a race, you just you just run it as best you can. You come out the other end, as educated as you are, and you make of it what you will. 

Luke - 100% 

Tom - and if you have to spend another year getting your doctorate, well, then Geez, good luck to you, or even getting an O level, but for me the sheer quality that you've had injected into your life as a young person, by your parents for this year. I mean, there are 1000 different experiences. And I'm painting a very rosy one. Indeed, we've all painted pretty rosy ones and I realized that is not true of a chunk of society and any number of individuals. But for those who have had a conventional family time through this, I think there's just way more way more they're going to get out of being with their parents all this time than they would have got out of a year in school, even if their education did slow down a bit. But hey, maybe that's a natural optimism.

Davinia - I think the thing for me is that we shouldn't feel under pressure to immediately ricochet back into our old lives. I think, you know, we've got a really good opportunity now to pause and reflect on the things we want to keep and the things we want to get rid of. And so we just have to be quite ruthless in terms of saying these are the things that were really good about the pandemic, not everything has been terrible, you know, we go to reflect on the things that we really want to keep and, you know, protect that just guard it furiously, so that we don't feel compelled and that we don't just drift and then years later, go How did I find myself here in this job in this area of the world that I don't necessarily want to live in, in this relationship that has been dead for 20 years, like whatever the situation might be, you know, really just being mindful about all aspects of our lives now and not just allowing life to happen to us I think is really important. 

Baz - I think what you just said there is it's about it, I think it's going to be harder to protect the space and do less than it is to do more like it's easy to fill everything up, isn't it? To put more and more and more in and actually, I've now realized how much how much effort you have to put in to doing doing nothing. Yeah, absolutely. But it's so important, so important.

Angus - And there you are. That's your lot folks. A massive thank you to Ally Millar, Baz Moffat, Davinia Tomlinson, Luke Ambler, Nina Skero, and Tom Baigrie for giving us such an interesting conversation. And a final reminder that if you want to learn more about LifeSearch's health, wealth and happiness pandemic report, then head to lifesearch.com/hwh, or follow us in all the usual social places. This has been Searching for Elephants. And if you want to hear more of the conversations we're having inside and outside LifeSearch, then you know what to do. Like, subscribe and give us that beautiful five star review.

Tom - So thank you all very, very much indeed for me and LifeSearch and lots of love.

Angus - Searching for Elephants is mixed and composed by Patrick Baigrie, and the show was created and edited by me Angus Baigrie

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