The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

29 December 2007

Happiness Manifesto

Most people in the developed world and most middle class people everywhere are not as happy as they might be. Doing jobs they don’t enjoy, traveling nose to bumper or crushed inside a bus to get to work, the strains of family life, “I want, I want, I want” but never quite enough money to afford everything – all this makes life really stressful.

Despite growing affluence, happiness levels are remaining fairly constant. Once people have enough income for their basic necessities, then money does not make much of a difference. And the people who spend more time pursuing money are often less happy.

Slough, a town near London, started a programme called “Making Slough Happy”. The aim was to raise the level of happiness. They encouraged singing and dancing, communal art projects, visits to lottery winners to see if money made a difference. Even a trip to a graveyard: “Reminding yourself that life is short can really boost your appreciation that it's wonderful just to be alive!".

The Happiness Manifesto
The happiness experts making Slough happy drew up a Happiness Manifesto. They suggest that you do all these things for two months, and see the difference it makes!
1. Get physical. Exercise for half an hour three times a week.
2. Count your blessings. At the end of each day, reflect on at least five things you're grateful for.
3. Make time to talk. An hour of uninterrupted conversation with your partner or closest friend each week.
4. Plant something. Even if it’s a window box or pot plant. Then keep it alive!
5. Cut your TV viewing. By half. More if you can.
6. Smile or say hello to a stranger. At least once each day.
7. Phone a friend. Make contact with at least one friend or relation you have not been in contact for a while, and arrange to meet up.
8. Have a good laugh. At least once a day.
9. Give yourself a daily treat. Take time to really enjoy this.
10. Do a daily kindness. Do an extra good turn for someone each day.

Before you change the world, you need to change your world. So, print out the Happiness Manifesto, and put it somewhere prominent in your home. Pledge to do all 10 things for two months. Then see how you feel.

Spread a little happiness. Circulate the manifesto to your ten best friends. Or if you are so miserable that you have no friends, then to the first ten people you meet. Think about how to make your town happier.

The BBC website for Making Slough Happy:
A Slough journalist’s site:
The official website for Slough:

How to measure the quality of life in your country

The well-being or quality of life of a population is an important measure of progress. It is not just the standard of living which can be measured by the amount of money people have and access to services. But it also includes much less easily quantifiable factors such as freedom, happiness, human creativity, health, quality of the environment and other factors. Here are three indexes which seek to measure a country’s quality of life:

The physical quality-of-life index which is a really simple way of estimating the quality of life in a country. The value is derived from these three measures:
1. The basic literacy rate, (percentage of the population that is literate)
2. The infant mortality (number of children dying out of every 1000 births)
3. The life expectancy at age one.
The figures are then adjusted and added together to create a single figure which estimates the quality of life in that country, which can be compared with figures for other countries.

The UN Human Development Index is slightly more complicated, but now more widely used. It combines these three factors:
1. A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth.
2. Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) plus the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary education enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting).
3. Standard of living, as measured by the country’s gross domestic product per capita adjusted to allow for purchasing power parity.
The top ten countries in 2007-08 were Iceland, Norway, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands and France. The bottom 24 countries were all African with Sierra Leone right at the bottom.
The Human Poverty Index is the opposite of this and also calculated by the UN Development Programme. Different methods of compiling this index are used depending on the country’s level of development. For developing countries it combines these factors:
1. The probability at birth of not surviving to age 40
2. The adult illiteracy rate
3. The percentage of the population without sustainable access to an improved water source
4. Children under weight for age at age 3.
In 2006, Niger was bottom, with Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad close behind.

A completely other approach is to try to measure the happiness of the population.

The New Economics Foundation in the UK tried to develop a measure of happiness which it calls the Happy Planet Index. This is compiled from measures of personal life satisfaction, life expectancy at birth and the country’s ecological footprint. The best-scoring countries in 2006 were Vanuatu followed by Colombia and Cost Rica. At the bottom of the list were Burundi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe:

The King of Bhutan adopted a policy of Gross National Happiness for his country:

27 December 2007

From the bottom of the world

Some thoughts on returning from an Antarctic expedition

The Antarctic continent is a truly great wilderness area, possibly the most important and the most spectacular in the whole world. But there are problems.
• There are geo-political problems. Countries are jockeying for position and attempting to gain influence on deciding Antarctica’s future. The Antarctic Treaty which governs what can and can’t be done will come up for renewal; and a lot of countries are looking greedily at the potential for mining minerals and searching for oil (which are both currently prohibited)
Tourism is having a growing impact, despite the voluntary self- regulation through the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, which specifies that nothing can be taken in and nothing taken out – you are not even allowed to have a pee or remove a single sea shell. There is still pristine snow and ice in the areas that tourists visit. But you can now occasionally see beer cans, toilet paper and used condoms washed up on to the shore. Many of the research stations now treat and remove their sewage (after pressure from Greenpeace). But the US South Pole base buries its sewage underground – so that the South Pole itself now rests on a sea of frozen American shit. Tourism is growing. This year over 30,000 people will visit and over 20,000 will land. And tour operators are starting to offer packages which involve staying overnight on land. Both these are bound to create further problems.
• There is still a vast array of wildlife. But whales have been hunted to near extinction, with only 3-4% of original stocks now remaining, Krill is beginning to be caught, currently only in quite small quantities; but this could become the next marine species to be overexploited, which would seriously affect the wide variety of creatures (including penguins) that depend on krill for their food.
• You can see climate change in action, not that you can actually tell from being there that the continent is getting warmer. But you can see the vastness of the polar icecap and understand the impact that its melting would cause on sea levels. And the tourists who go there are flying thousands of miles to get to the Antarctic, and the ships require several tonnes of fuel each day to power themselves.

All these problems need solutions. It is up to each and every one of us who have enjoyed and been inspired by the Antarctic to be part of the solution – whether we have visited the continent or just dreamed about doing so. But there are two barriers which have to be overcome first:
• You may believe that anything that we can do will be insignificant in relation to the scale of the problem. But doing something is better than doing nothing. Change has to start somewhere. And your small actions can inspire others and can encourage politicians and business to treat the matter much more seriously.
• You have to overcome your apathy. In fact it is apathy which is the world’s biggest problem, not global warming, poverty, AIDS, conflict, corruption or abuse of human rights. If you recognise that something needs doing, change will only happen if someone actually gets up off their backside and does something.

Getting involved is a three-stage process:
1. You start by doing little things in your everyday life that make a difference.
2. First get interested in an issue and then do something more substantial about it. Do this with friends, Get a sense of achievement. Let one thing lead to another, go on to do bigger and better things. Try to have fun doing something for a better world.
3. Finally, use your brain to come up with a creative solution which makes a significant impact on the problem.

So here are some little things to get started:

1. Become an ambassador for Antarctica. Find out as much as you can about it. Tell people about this wonderful wilderness of a continent and its importance to the future of the planet. Encourage people to speak up for its preservation. Put pressure on your politicians so that they promote and support policies which are “Antarctica-friendly”.

2. Eat sustainable fish. Much of the world’s fish has become over-fished and is facing extinction. The fish you can eat with a clear consciousness come from sustainable catcheries. The Marine Stewardship Council and Greenpeace with its Oceans campaign both have information on sustainable fishing: and For a list of fish that you can’t eat, go to: Greenpeace is particularly concerned about the devastating impact of factory fishing on the ocean. It has just launched a new seafood research project to collect data on what fish is available at food stores. You can just sign up to be part of this campaign. Once registered, you will get instructions and a survey form to fill out when you visit your local supermarket or food store. This research shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to complete. You then report the results back to Greenpeace, who assemble the survey data.

3. Give up plastic bags. It is just a small step in reducing the energy you use or cause to be used, but it will also save animals and fish, who often ingest used plastic bags which makes life difficult for them. When you go to the supermarket make sure you take a reusable bag. It may not do much in itself for reducing carbon consumption, but it is a first step. Then, contact people who are promoting similar or contrary messages in the media, and try to get them to see the perspective from your point of view.

4. Do something for World Ocean Day, which is June 8th. Check out their website, and see how you can help – perhaps by doing a beach clean up for them. World Ocean Day: The International Coastal Cleanup takes place in September each year. On a single day, 300,000 volunteers in 90 countries – from Argentina to Vietnam – help clean up over 11,000 miles of shoreline. Cleanup Day is also about pollution prevention. Volunteers record the different types of marine debris, and analyzing this leads to a better understanding of the causes. Join in.

5. Do something simple to address global warming. Take a first step to becoming more conscious about the issues and as a starting point doing something that will have real impact. Here are two things you might like to do:
Search on Blackle: This saves energy by having white writing on a black screen, and it uses the Google search engine. They tell you how many kilowatts of energy have been saved as a result of people using this, It is a small step, but seeing the black screen will remind you continuously of the importance of the issue of global warming.
Do the Green Thing. Subscribe to the website and do the simple action each month. You will find their website a lot of fun.

6. Click and donate. The money comes from the site’s sponsors who pay for each click by a visitor to the site. Check out the different options, which include The Rainforest Site to preserve rainforest in central and south America and The Hunger Site to feed the hungry. There is an up-to-date listing of click and donate sties with an analysis of the response is on the “Charity” section at Or if this doesn’t appeal to you, go to when you will be asked to judge which out of four possible meanings is the meaning of a particular word. Each time you guess right, next question is harder. Each time you guess wrong, the next question is easier. For every question you answer correctly, twenty grains of rice are donated to help feed the world’s hungry. On its first day (October 7th 2007), this site raised 830 grains of rice, By the end of December 2007, the daily total was around 350 million grains of rice.

7. Save your spare change each night. Before you go to bed, tip your change into a jar, When it is full then turn it into proper cash and find something to donate it to a non-profit, possibly some Antarctic conservation trust. Check out the opportunities. Also look at the idea of helping a poor person out of poverty at

8. Give up bottled water. Ask for tap with ice and a slice of lemon, instead. Bottled water is an environmentally insane project causing pollution and congestion to get the water to you and creating an environmental hazard through the empty bottles people end disposing of. Indeed if we spent the money we as a world are spending on bottled water, we could solve many of the world’s problems, including the preservation of Antarctica, with the money saved.

9. Plant one tree. This will breathe out more than amount of oxygen that you will need to live. It also absorbs carbon dioxide which will do a little to address global warming. Check out the UN’s Billion Trees Campaign: Plant your own in your yard or garden, or just somewhere where you think a tree is needed (this is called “guerrilla gardening”).

10. Have a Whale of a Time. Enjoy changing the world. Have fun. Make new friends. If you want to find out more about whales, go to:

Each of us can do something. Pledge to do as many of these ten things as you can. Get started; it’s never too early. And remember the old Quaker proverb: It’s better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.

Check out the Antarctic Heritage Trust, which seeks to preserve some of the historic settlements on the continent used by explorers and whalers: and

2007-08 is International Polar Year organised by the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organisation:

For more information on how to change the world, read Michael Norton’s two books:

365 Ways to Change the World, published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the UK and the USA, and The Everyday Activist, published in the UK.

Or visit his blog at:

Or sign up to the newsletter at:

Michael Norton travelled to Antarctica on the Orlova, from 1st to 11th December 2007

SOS ALERT: Save Our Sharks

Chinese New Year is nearly here (which is on 7th February in 2008, the Year of the Rat), and no doubt sharks fin soup will be on the menu in many households and restaurants….

Every year, in oceans around the world, tens of millions of sharks are hunted to meet the demand for shark fin soup. Sharks’ fins are often removed when the animals are still alive; the sharks are then thrown back into the water to endure a painful death from suffocation, blood loss, or predation by other species. Sharks are apex predators who play an essential role in marine ecosystems. The cruel and ecologically devastating practice of shark finning endangers their survival.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Never consume or serve any products containing shark fin. You should also be aware that consuming shark fin can have health implications, especially for children and pregnant women.

2. If you see shark fin on a restaurant menu, ask the management to stop serving it. Ask the restaurant to sign a No Shark Fin pledge. Download Consumer Cards and Pledge Forms from the Humane Society which you can print out and hand to restaurant managers. Give the Humane Society contact information of any business you come across that offers, markets or promotes shark fin.

3. Distribute brochures on ending the cruel practice of shark finning, downloadable in both English and simplified Chinese from the Humane Society website.

9. You yourself sign the Humane Society International’s No Shark Fin pledge and sign up to receive action alerts from the Humane Society International.

These are some of the other campaigns run by the Humane Society:
Animal cruelty and fighting
Factory farming
Fur and trapping
Puppy mills
Chimps in research
Seal hunting
Horse slaughter
Pets for life
Wild neighbours

Check out the animal channel at:

Humane Society:
Humane Society International:

Also check out People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with 1.6 million members. They aim to “establish and protect the rights of all animals. Like humans, animals are capable of suffering and have interests in leading their own lives; therefore, they are not ours to use – for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation or any other reason. PETA-named affiliates around the world educate policymakers and the public about cruelty to animals and promote an understanding of the right of all animals to be treated with respect.”

PETA in the UK:
PETA in the USA:

Make a New Year’s resolution. Going vegan not only protects animals, but also reduces your carbon footprint considerably, thereby contributing towards action against global warming. If you can’t manage going completely vegan, try it once a week or go vegetarian (when you can eat animal products such as milk and cheese.

Make an animal-friendly New Year’s resolution for 2008 to go Vegan or to go Vegetarian. Download the Top Ten reasons to go vegetarian in 2008 and order a free vegetarian starter kit. Do all of this at

Check out these affiliate websites:

Take a look at Irene Schleining’s animal website which focuses on whales and other endangered species at:

And Have a Whale of a Time. And best wishes for the New Year, and for doing your bit in 2008 to change the world.