Posts Tagged ‘dartmouth’

Quite a bit of energy has been spent on studies to determine what makes people happy. The findings often seem self-evident (for example, the observation that simple pleasures can be the most satisfying), but studies may be needed when the culture grows detached from what is self-evident.

NY Times columnist Ron Lieber writes, here, about one such study: “Amit Bhattacharjee and Cassie Mogilner, met when Mr. Bhattacharjee was earning his doctorate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where Ms. Mogilner is an assistant professor of marketing.

“When they decided to work together … they were trying to help answer one of the next big questions in the emerging field of happiness studies. Already, scholars in the field have established that experiences tend to make people happier than possessions. What we do, it seems, has more potential for lasting satisfaction and memory-making than what we have. But Mr. Bhattacharjee, who is now a visiting assistant professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and Ms. Mogilner wanted to know what sort of experiences made people the most happy and why.

“To find out, they conducted eight studies in which they asked participants about their recollections of, planning for or daydreaming about various happiness-making experiences. They also checked to see what sort of things their subjects were posting about on Facebook. The researchers’ definitions of ordinary and extraordinary experiences, when they prompted people to discuss one or the other, were simple and focused on frequency; ordinary experiences happen often and occur in the course of everyday life.”

Lieber notes ordinary experiences like reading the paper, walking around the block, talking to neighbors, spending time in the library. I would add playing with grandchildren, listening to music, and baking something when you have time.

Update 9/3/14 — John just sent word of another study tending to prove the same thing, here.

Free Shakespeare production on the library lawn in summer

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I went to the concert of an oboe-playing friend Sunday. The 3 p.m. event coincided with the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that took place a year ago in Japan. My friend, of Japanese heritage, was moved by the music he was playing, and so was I. The modern pieces really sounded like an earthquake to me. I had visions of Poseidon, the Bull from the Sea, rising up in anger against humankind, and later of hope dawning.

The Charles River Wind Ensemble, where my friend plays, has a new conductor. I liked Matthew Marsit’s energetic style and his explanations of the pieces. Marsit, a clarinetist himself, is also a conductor at Dartmouth College, where he practices his belief in music outreach to lower-income communities.

“An advocate for the use of music as a vehicle for service, Matthew has led ensembles on service missions in Costa Rica and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, collecting instruments for donation to schools, performing charity benefit concerts and offering workshops to benefit arts programs in struggling schools.  His current work at Dartmouth allows for outreach projects in the rural schools of New Hampshire and Vermont, working to stimulate interest in school performing arts programs.” Read more.

I think musicians can be very giving people. Indian Hill Music in Littleton, Massachusetts, offers scholarships and more. Someone I know on the board tells me that Indian Hill has “a program to bring music instruction to schools in the region that have cut out music due to budgetary constraints. They also offer free concerts, a Threshold choir (music for dying patients), and a number of other outreach efforts.”

In Providence, Rhode Island, Community MusicWorks demonstrates how music builds community and teaches social responsibility. You can read about this and other innovations in Rhode Island’s creative economy here.

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