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DR TAL BEN SHAR

The past two years have been a bit of shock to most. Normal has been replaced by the new normal, and most people aren’t very happy about the very sudden shift away from what has become second nature.

This has not been aided by the extremely dire consequences and personal loss which have faced millions around the world during the pandemic, as global depression rates have skyrocketed.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Guardian Group is hopeful that happiness isn’t far away, and can be a transformative approach to prosperity post pandemic.

On Thursday, the Guardian Group launched its Happytalism Initiative.

It is a programme which involves a series of online workshops and motivational talks geared to addressing both the mental health and economic effects.

Ayesha Boucaud-Claxton, head of Guardian Group’s branding and communications, stressed the pandemic had placed greater emphasis on mental care.

“As the world takes its first stumbling steps out of the pandemic, it’s time to remind ourselves of that bright outlook on life. That’s just what Guardian Group unfolds with the regional initiative of Happytalism,” she said.

“Framed through the perspective of a Caribbean State of Mind we’re freely given bits of advice, tips and profound insights into becoming more emotional resilient, happier and, as a bonus, even how to become better on the money side of things, both in business and brand development. It’s an initiative that couldn’t have come at a better time as the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health and financial well-being.”

Happytalism, she explained, revolved around the science behind how we can rise to the challenges and create a happier outlook on life despite what is taking place.

She explained further, “The results are quite impressive and reveals the way in which adversity can be turned into opportunity when you know how. Case studies and easy to apply techniques and tips are provided that shift how one sees their business and can better develop their communication and branding strategies.”

To further push the philosophy, the company reached to several experts, including former Harvard Professor, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar.

During the launch on Thursday, Dr Ben-Shahar noted the pandemic had been largely traumatic for most.

“If you look around at the research levels of depression are extremely high anxiety, levels, are at an all-time high. The Caribbean (nations) are not exempt from this research done. In your region shows very similar trends,” he said.

The explained that the state of the world made some question his push for happiness.

“What is the relevance of the signs of happiness today? Well, the answer is that it’s extremely relevant. The answer is that it is extremely relevant,” he said as he explained trauma had traditionally and rightfully seen as damaging, but it was often overlooked how transformative trauma can be on the human psyche. He pointed out that vast majority of his students could very quickly identify PTSD as post traumatic stress disorder but not the lesser now abbreviation PTG.

“PTG stands for post traumatic growth post traumatic growth. Hardly. Anyone even psychologists have heard about it. Now here is the interesting part. Post-traumatic growth is potentially twice as likely as post-traumatic stress disorder. PTG is potentially twice as likely as PTSD,” he said.

The former Harvard professor said the initiative was necessary to increase occurrences of anti-fragility, noting the many things within the human body were created to be resilient and grow stronger when put under pressure like our muscles.

“Let’s begin with our muscular system. So, you go to the gym and you lift weights, you’re stressing your muscles as a result of the stress. You going once twice, 50 times. As a result of this stress, your muscles actually grow stronger, bigger, healthier. In other words our muscular system is an anti-fragile system,” he said.

He said a similar this approach could be used to create positive practices coming out of this pandemic period.

“We need to know what conditions we can put in place. Increase the likelihood of post-traumatic growth. Nothing can guarantee post-traumatic growth. Sometimes is a result of trauma, there is breakdown, but if we know what conditions we can put in place, then it’s significantly increases the likelihood that we will grow rather than break from trauma that we will experience anti fragility rather than fragility in the face of trauma,” he said.

“And here lies the purpose, the importance, the significance of the science of happiness and of this Happytalism project here, lies the importance of it. First to introduce people to the idea of anti-fragility of post-traumatic growth.”

Another expert involved in the programme is the head of the World Happiness Academy, Luis Gallardo.

Gallardo explained that Happytalism would teach participants to the learn how to identify the positives in their situations and as such develop methods to increase the productivity through that positivity. He acknowledged that the current structure of capitalism had programmed minds in a specific way, but that programming needed a new strategy.

“You realise that we need new paradigms and that was the seed of this thing. And how can we create a new paradigms, focus on different mindsets. I think this is the Caribbean mindset that we need, and actually Happytalism is a mindset. It’s a mindset focus on abundance, not on lack,” Gallardo said.

He said the Caribbean did have elements of Happytalism within its mindset, making the programme an exciting prospect.

“These are the mindsets, focus on freedom to be. And to be free from fear, it is a mindset for goes on consciousness, to expand and evolve and is a philosophy to focus on happiness to share. So those are the three ingredients, freedom to be, consciousness, to expand and evolve and happiness to share. So I say that is not about being happy is, it is about being happiness. Because when we are happiness, we embody what we are saying, we embody the values and the energy behind this. So it is about embodiment,” said Gallardo.

Dr Ben-Shahar was similarly of the belief the Caribbean region could be used to pioneer Happytalism throughout the world.

“I hope the Caribbean and this project can be a role model for others because it’s so much needed,” said Ben-Shahar.

The Happytalism Initiative will officially begin on March 1 with registrants gaining access for the next three months to 45-minute talk videos from Dr Ben-Shahar as shares approached on what can be done to be more emotionally resilient and happier.