Community, Health, & the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted in: behavior change, habit design, health, nutrition, politics, psychology- Nov 07, 2011 Comments Off on Community, Health, & the Pursuit of Happiness

It’s an odd thing when two seemingly disparate interests collide.

When the “occupy” movement got me and few friends moving on a local level, it didn’t occur to be that it would in any way be connected to my ongoing interest in behavior change and psychology.

My interest in behavior change has largely been driven by wanting to help people achieve a desired behavior change (for whatever purposes but usually motivated by wanting to be happier and/or healthier). My participation in growing the WorkingFor campaign came out of my desire to support and build community. So when I read this article on about how inequality affects society, it really blew me away to find how completely connected our individual health is to the health of our community.

The correlations are terrifying in their clarity and consistency. To put it simply, the more unequal a society, the worse off most of its citizens were. This didnt just play out on one or two metrics. When compared with more equal societies with similar incomes, more unequal societies had worse infant mortality, worse educational scores, higher teen pregnancies, more children dropping out of high school, more drug abuse, more homicides, more mental illness, more people in prison, greater obesity, more health problems overall and shorter lives. And societies that were more equal showed higher innovation, greater use of environmental resources, and get this one, greater social mobility. If you are like me, you might want to read this a few times over, and if you want to dive into the research feel free to do so in their book. —excerpt from Whats Occupying Us All

In the habit design and behavior change circles, we’ve known that community is an important component to success. We’ve worked on building a sense of community in our mobile applications and websites so that people feel a greater sense of support and motivation. I had no clue that the loss of community could be at the root of so much that ails America today.

Top image via Blogging for Jobs