I was at Book Club last Wednesday night, and somehow we got on the topic of happiness. My friend, Jill, started referring to a documentary “Happy” and I instantly was intrigued. She said it was on Netflix, and so a couple days later, I crawled in bed, and started watching it. What drew me lately to learning about “happiness” and “what makes people happy” is that I’ve gone through some adversities in life, like we all have, and yet I still ultimately feel happy, even if circumstances made me sad for a short period of time. But I became curious as to what the foundation was to living a happy life.
After watching “Happy”, I started talking to everyone I know about the documentary, and how they have to watch it. It’s fascinating. And so late night, after the Super Bowl, a few of my friends stayed and watched it again with me. Then my friend Kelly, who I went on a long bike ride with this past weekend, she sent me the following Ted Talk, which is also about happiness:
According to recent research, 50% of our happiness is genetic. 40% is based on the bullet points below, and 10% is based on the superficial things like status, and appearance, wealth, etc. When watching this documentary last night, we were all slightly shocked by the 50% genetic part, but yet partly it made a lot of sense. What was interesting then was what was the 40% that could help us all improve our happiness.
1. Do physical Activity
- For some this was simply farming, doing Tai Chi, or yoga, and others it was running, surfing, rock climbing etc. But be active.
- This is when people “get into the zone”. This is usually while people are doing physical activity, but could be as simple as cooking in the kitchen, or cleaning the house, while others it might be during a long ride.
- We all must face challenges and low points in order to appreciate happiness, and feel true happiness.
4. Basic Needs
- Ultimately what they found is once basic needs are met, no amount of money can make you any happier. So, if your homeless or in a destitute situation, or you don’t know when you are going to get your next meal, and money can give you out of it, then money does make you happy. But once your basic needs are met, then money can’t buy you any more happiness. They found that that was a salary of $50,000 (for U.S citizens) a few years ago, when the documentary and study was done. Recently there was an article published that states the current salary is $62,000.
5. Personal Growth
- When we work on ourselves, and set goals, this makes us happy. Also, seeking new experiences is critical to happiness.
- This one was huge and often touched on in all other aspects of happiness. One must have a solid community/support network. It is sooo important to cultivate our relationships, laugh with one another, cooperate with one another, etc. Humans are social beings, and they found that when a group of people are put together and they have the choice to compete or cooperate, everyone ultimately chooses to cooperate and work together, and this makes people happy.
- When we are compassionate to others, as well as giving, and we offer our help, this makes people happy.
Sam Berns’ Philosophy to living a happy life :
1. Be OK with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much that you CAN do.
2. Surround yourself with people who you want to be around
3. Keep moving forward
This ultimately got me thinking about my own life, and how to live the happiest life that I can. I’m generally a VERY happy person. But, when I go through bumps in the road…what CAN I do to sustain a happy life vs. focusing on the negative. It’s also important to have things to look forward to, like a trip, or a party, or a sporting event. And when adversity hits – learning to accept those things that we cannot change. Also, some wise advice was passed onto me recently which was “when things are bad, don’t be preoccupied, be occupied”. It’s sooo true. I’m happier when I’m focusing on all of the things above, and filling my days with social gatherings, and physical activity, and helping others.
And truly all I want in life is for others to be happy, which is ultimately, why I want to learn so much about what makes people happy, because hopefully in someway I can help others be happy.