Do you ever think about what it means to be happy? I think it is a really interesting subject. Since I am in the midst of big life changes I often think about what it is that I want, will I be happy, how can I be happier…..As I think about people I know or have known in my life, some people are just always happy no matter what happens and others never seem happy or satisfied even in the best of times. Well, the happy ones may not always be happy, but they bounce back from sad or diifficult things quickly. They seem to just have a baseline of happy. Now, the others, even in good times can find something to complain about. I am not even sure they know they are that way, but I can only imagine that they are not very happy!
What makes some people happy and others always miserable? I certainly want to be one of those people that is always happy and I mostly am. I firmly believe that happiness is a choice and that you can work to make yourself happier. I watched the documentary Happy for the second time this weekend. Here is the trailer….
A few of the things I learned from watching it…We all have a set point for happiness. It is a genetic predisposition and we kind of stay there. This accounts for 50% of our happiness. (I guess this explains those happy people). 10% of happiness is based on our circumstances…job, social standing, health, money, possessions. Amazing that it is only 10%! I would guess as a population we put most of our efforts into achieving those things but they are not very likely to make us happy. (They did of course say that it does take some baseline income to be happy…you need shelter and food, but once those are met, the difference in happiness is independent of money....) The last 40% of our happiness is from intentional activity; things you can do to make yourself happy. Wow! 40% of our happiness is in our own control!
What they say really makes us happy is connection with others; being a part of a community; feeling like you make a difference; and exercise, especially in new and different ways (run the gorilla run?). They say that the act of cooperating with others causes secretion of dopamine (an endorphin in the body) just like drugs like cocaine do. Interesting, the least happy industrialized nation is Japan, and the happiest is Denmark.
So what can you do to be happy? They suggest the following things: play; experience new things; spend time with friends and family; do meaningful things; and appreciate what you have. They site studies that show counting your blessings is proven to make you happy. And even more strongly associated with happiness is practicing random acts of kindness. All of these things are absolutely free! So, on the thought of gratitude, I'm going to start my gratitude list again. Each night thinking what I am thankful for that day. I am sure sometimes it is just to have the day over with, but even that is good! I heard the folowing poem on On Being last week. It was offered as part of their Thanksgiving program, and is just spot on. You can hear the author read it in the clip below.
So I am gettling a little long winded here, but both of these videos made me laugh. The first one was popular last year but it still good. To dance at a bus stop? Happy!
And a dance party in a very serious mall? Fun for sure! Hope you enjoy the clips and maybe the smile is something you will be grateful for at the end of your day!