Thursday, 26 January 2012

January Editor's Choice from Wellbeing Wales

By Danielle Klentzeris from Wikiprogress Correspondent, Lles Cymru Wellbeing Wales.

It is often said that childhood is the best time of our lives. However, according to new figures released by the Children’s Society, almost ‘one in ten children over the age of eight are unhappy’. Issues surrounding family life were found to have the greatest impact on children’s wellbeing and happiness, with relationships ‘within a household rather than the family "structure"’ being the main cause for children’s low sense of wellbeing. Speaking to The Guardian, Elaine Hindell, director of the Campaign for Childhood at the Children's Society, said ‘we want our country to be the best place for our children to grow up. Yet unless we act now we risk becoming one of the worst and creating a lost future generation’.

In light of the report, Cameron’s call to concentrate ‘not just on GDP but on GWB – general wellbeing’ has great resonance not just for adults, but for the wellbeing of modern children also.

From the state of children’s wellbeing to the state of the planet. The Guardian’s Dean Baker argues for the need to prevent cuts in areas concerning environmental preservation. Defending the need to ensure progress in the technological, environmental and educational fields, Barker argues that spending cuts that ‘that affect our progress in these areas… will be making our children worse-off, not better-off’. The crux of Barker’s argument appears to situate around the simple fact that financial debt will eventually decrease and drop off whereas environmental debt may not be so easily repayable. Quick fixes may appear a tempting option to already struggling governments but if we lose sight of the long-term goals of environmental sustainability then efforts to protect future generations become fruitless given there may well be no planet left to protect.

Unhappy children, planetary decay- there certainly doesn’t feel like there’s much to smile about these days. However, according to The Independent, laughter may hold the key to lifting societies' woes. From a social tool to a means of curing illness, laughter allows human’s to ‘convey meaning more effectively than words and is a language in itself’. But far from being a sacred tool of human communication it appears that laughter has the power to transcended species. Whilst observing rats, Dr Jaak Panksepp, found that our rodent friends ‘produce ultrasonic chirps, particularly when they appeared to be playfully interacting with each other’. A marvel in itself but even more extraordinary when he later found that, upon tickling the rat’s stomach, these noises became ‘louder and more consistent with [the] familiar, dynamic rhythm’ of laughter.

As tempting as it is to try this experiment for myself, I don’t think the rats of Wales are quite ready for a quick rib tickle but the findings do raise an interesting point. Perhaps we are not so distanced from the creatures we share our planet with and recognising these supposedly ‘human’ traits in other animals may make us realise the importance of preserving the planet for the benefit of all future generations. Now that’s got to be something worth smiling about. :)

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