Keep Calm and Cousins On

Yesterday will definitely go down as an Odd Day for me.

You see, through a remarkable series of coincidences, I discovered that I share a last name with the man who almost certainly designed one of the most famous morale-boosting publicity campaigns of all time.

Yup, the designer of the “Keep Calm And Carry On” poster was born Charles Cousins.


Right now, I have no idea if we could be distantly related, but it’s clearly a possibility given the relatively small number of people named Cousins in the world.

A website called reveals that my name is the 15,696th most common in the world.

By the time Charles Cousins (the same name as my grandfather, by the way) was asked by the Ministry of Information to put together designs for morale-boosting posters in 1939, he’d changed his name to Edgar Wall-Cousins, which became Wallcousins.

The Edgar was his middle name. The Wall came from his first wife Marjorie’s maiden name.

By doing the double-barrelled thing, they were clearly way ahead of the game when they married, in 1902.

Given my fascination with the idea of developing a way to measure and track morale, it does seem pretty exciting that I might even share some genes with the designer of the Keep Calm poster.

How do you research this kind of thing?

I’m not sure, but it’s certainly got me fascinated.

The elementary genealogical exploration I began yesterday (and quickly abandoned upon realising how complicated it would get) was a time-consuming but enjoyable diversion from the main task in hand for me, right now, which is to explore the potential of morale as a measure of our psychological well-being.

However, one slight reservation I have is whether the word “morale” is sufficiently meaningful in a context outside the world of work or the military?

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve mentioned to you that we easily use the word “demoralised” in a personal setting, understanding what it means with no problems.

But “morale”?

Maybe it’s okay, but perhaps there’s a better term for it?

One dictionary definition of morale is that it’s “an emotional or mental condition with respect to cheerfulness, confidence, zeal, etc, especially in the face of opposition hardship.”

I can think of a number of possible synonyms for morale, but I don’t want to influence you because I do want your help, please.

Which words or terms might you use in place of the word morale?

I’d love to know, so I’ve put a simple form online to gather ideas:

Once we’ve collected a goodly number, I’ll assemble them into a voting form so we can take a second pass at ranking them in popular order.

For now, though, please put on your very best thinking cap.

Meanwhile I’m still trying trying to digest the “Keep Calm” connection, which ironically is exciting enough to actually make it feel quite hard to, well, carry on.

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