Day 276 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I heard something on the radio this morning and I just had to report it to you all: it is the latest findings about looking at babies and cute animals.

And it helped me see why, whenever a person at work would bring in their new baby the staff would flock around gooing and going gaga over the baby and then, feeling wonderful they would work twice as hard afterwards. The same thing happens apparently after seeing cute animals. IT MAKES US HAPPY.

It’s official! Research has confirmed that it does … well it has confirmed that it actually boosts productivity AND makes us happy. This is a Japanese study and these results were  published in the most recent edition of an online journal PLos ONE:

” …  the authors concluded that “kawaii (cute) things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior,” adding that “viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”

Here’s a few cutie animals …

Now isn’t this fascinating stuff? You see, researches at Hiroshima University recently conducted a series of tests to determine the effects of cute animal exposure on productivity and task completion in humans, and found them to be quite positive.

It actually makes sense to me because when I worked in a stress-filled work environment (working with the under-privileged) a lot of the staff had various ‘cute things’ around their computer work station. I myself have written before about the ‘fluffy pens’ I used to carry whenever I was dealing with customers. It was like an ice-breaker. Customers would comment on them and this would make our interview less intimidating.

Some fluffy pens

So what IS a fluffy pen you might ask? It is a pen which has feathers on the end. It could include animals or stars too or it could be in the shape of an animal. I had so many in the end, that I kept about 20 of them in a mug, a bit like a vase of flowers – only they were fluffy pens.

At the height of the fluffy pen collection (they must have been exceeding twenty by this time) one of my supervisors took me to task about them. She thought they were messy and suggested that they had to go. I was most upset but I did bring the majority of them home.

I have some of these too

The funny part of this story was the supervisor had a large collection of miniatures (like the Simpsons) which decorated her whole work station. When I pointed this out – ever so nicely – I didn’t get one bit of sympathy. She thought her miniatures were far nicer than my bedraggled collection of pens could ever be!

So now I have this news that cute things (like my fluffy pens) were actually making me more productive. Oh, how I wish I had this research available at the time of the Fluffy Pen Incident. It could have earned me a reprieve … but that was not to be. Now that I am retired, I still can’t bear to part with those fluffy pens. THEY are not retired.

Now, this morning as I was cleaning up my computer room, I came across an article in the Australian news magazine ‘The Week‘ which comes under the heading of ‘cute animals and baby research’. You can blame it all on Disney because Disney have built a hotel in Hawaii about a 40 minute drive from Waikiki and:

“Here Mickey and Minnie Mouse are ready and waiting by the pool and at breakfast, for those who want a photo. But they’re not too in your face. Thankfully, local Hawaiian music plays throughout the resort.”

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

And there are incredible swimming pools too with a water park where you slide through dark caverns or have a lazy float on a plastic flotation tube along a stream that winds through rock gardens. The article ends by saying: “If you’re seeking ‘the Happiest Place on Earth’ look no further. But take it from me: ‘the smiles don’t come cheap.’

Now, wouldn’t the people who stay at this hotel be very productive when they return from their holidays? That’s if they can afford to go there …

Which leads me to start going on AGAIN about Wonder! I see this research as working because people who see any number of ‘cute things’ have their ‘sense of wonder’ revived and they are restored by it. Their endorphins kick in and they go on to do detailed tasks much more efficiently. You see I believe this to be true:

“Weariness comes from the sickening sameness. Part of what we need is someone to make us wonder again; someone to show us the magic of life; someone to make us gasp at the glory of God.”

And so folks, no wonder students in the research who were shown photos of cute baby animals were shown to be far more efficient than those who were shown photos of adult animals. The first group was left with a SENSE OF WONDER about life.

Let’s not wait for research to prove that ‘cute things’ like babies make us happy. There are enough horror stories on the news. Let’s make a point of doing or seeing some things that make us feel happy!