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  Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

brings you a brave new pamphlet on

'The Tipping Point, The Gentle Nudge and Time to Change'

 The Tipping Point.  Even if you haven't heard of the Angel of the North, most of you will  have heard about a phenomenon called 'the tipping point'.  Here's a definition: "The tipping point is the seemingly magical process by which some products, ideas and ways of behaving cross a threshold or "tip" and take off".

The phrase was coined by journalist Michael Gladwell and is fast making him a star around the world.  His book The Tipping Point is referenced at the end of the page and is worth reading as the subject is of interest to most of us - we all have products, messages or causes that we want to see advanced.  The book's main and fascinating message is of the pivotal role that individual men and women play in the spread of ideas, information and trends. Interestingly, Gladwell likens the spread of social behaviours to an epidemic of contagious disease.  The Tipping Point is a recommended read as there is no doubt that it is a powerful and practical tool for anyone with an idea to peddle or a campaign to promote.  In our case, let's turn our concern for greater happiness and wellbeing into a social epidemic. 

The Gentle Nudge.  What I propose is hot stuff.  I'm going to give the status quo of pure inertia a bit of a nudge.  I'm an independent sort of person - a bit of a creative thinker - and I can get quite cross and anxious about the speed (or lack of speed) when it comes to improving the lot of ordinary people on matters of their health, happiness and wellbeing.  Sometimes, all it needs to change things is 'a nudge' and I'm enlisting your help.  To my mind there's too much gloom and doom around; too much misery and defeatism.  We always seem to be preparing for the next disaster, leaving concerns about health, happiness and wellbeing marginalised and under-funded.  I have a sincere belief that there is still hope and it is ours to bring to the world.  This is everybody's business; we all have rights and responsibilities as citizens.  Such is the power of the Internet and, of course, the written word - the last time I checked - 1,348 hits had been registered for this particular page ... I told you this was hot stuff.

Optimism and over-confidence.  As I write, I'm beginning to see the unfolding of a community campaign at a grass roots level and I'm going to start the ball rolling next time we meet by bringing up the subject of emotional wellbeing, a serious concern in many homes across the globe.  As we shall see, small and apparently insignificant details (and writers!) can have a major impact on people's behaviour.  A good rule of thumb is to assume that 'everything matters'.  But, let us not be over-optimistic.  Unrealistic optimism is a pervasive feature of human life; it characterizes most people in most social categories.  But, this is just another  thought about inertia - our reluctance to change - and leads me to something called status quo bias.  Any teacher will tell you that students tend to sit in the same seats in class even when there is no seating chart.  This then is status quo bias and when the stakes are much larger than where students sit, it can get us into a lot of trouble.

So what?   The above was a word of caution about human fallibility - just a little nudge to remind me and you that the picture that always presents itself is one of busy people trying to cope in a complex world where they cannot afford to think deeply about every single choice they have to make - even where to sit in a classroom!  So, of course, nudges are everywhere - even if we do not see them.  We have already learned that individuals like us can ourselves be architects of choice.  We can preserve our freedom to choose whilst also nudging people gently in directions that will improve their lives.  You may (or may not) have noticed that all political parties are nudging us in directions that they believe will make our lives go better, while also insisting that the ultimate choice is for individuals not the state.  And, of course, there is undoubtedly a case for giving the gentle nudge towards a better life.  There is also a case for knowing how social engineering works and something of the language of social marketing!  This said, I am convinced that on matters of health, happiness and wellbeing there are things that we can do to help ourselves - and others - at the level of our own families.  We are not powerless.

Time to Change.  Watch out for the national campaign to fight stigma and discrimination in mental health, Time to Change.  The campaign has massive implications for our wellbeing as a nation and our happiness as individuals.  For support, it has the weight of the big mental health charities behind it, but it - too - relies on the power of nudges and commitment at the local level in its bid to make a difference.  Maybe one day soon we will get to a tipping point where we all become aware of mental health issues and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves; and also reach the equally important tipping point that makes stigma and discrimination a thing of the past.  It can be done.  If we all pull together, things will change.  Finally, did you know that one in four people will develop a mental health problem in the course of their lives?  It happened to me.  It could happen to you.  On matters of health, happiness and wellbeing, I - for one - refuse point blank to sit idly by while Rome burns ... 

Look after yourself.  That's a gentle nudge.  Here's another ... 

Click on the link below to

pledge to help end mental health prejudice

It's time to talk.

Marian @ Krysan 


The Starfish Flinger.  As the old man walked along the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea.  Finally catching up with the youth, he asked why he was doing this.  The answer was that stranded, the starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish,” countered the other. “How can your effort make any difference?“  The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves.  “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.


GLADWELL, Malcolm (2000), The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference, London, pub. Abacus.

THALER & SUNSTEIN (2009), Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness, London, pub. Penguin.


- ENDS -

3,272 hits @ 2015-11-16 

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