Monday, January 14, 2013

The Happy List


Barbara: I watched the film, Happy, last week. It’s a compelling doc by Roko Belic that features interviews of "regular joes" and happiness experts, searching around the world for untapped secrets to happiness. I definitely recommend seeing it yourself (yes, it will make you happy), but I also thought I’d share a quick list of points I gleaned while watching.

1. Our individual happiness scale is based 50% on our genetic predisposition, 10% (only!) on our circumstances, and 40% (a lot!) on WHAT WE DO.
2. We can make ourselves happier by switching things up. Seeing new things in our immediate surroundings or exploring the greater world will generate feelings of happiness.
3. Most of us are wired to aim for happiness, but those lovely dopamine receptors do begin to die off after the teen years. The experts recommend: use it or lose it!
4. Any adrenaline rush—like during exercise—keeps these dopamine receptors in fighting shape.
5. Helping people makes us happy.
6. Being (and acting as) part of a larger community makes us happy.
8. Having not enough money to survive does adversely affect our happiness, but having more and more of it—ie, enough to survive upwards to gazillions—doesn’t at all.
7. Explore and give reign to your creative side in order to feel “you are being yourself”, but also make sure you do the kind of work you need to do to feel “useful”.
8. The number one, most consistent factor for the happiest people around the world, from every kind of background, class, race, and social system? A circle of family and friends. You don’t have to love them all or agree with them all the time, but you do want to recognize and nurture the circle. In fact, I don’t remember there being any mention in the film of needing to have that one special someone in order to be happy, but there were many many examples of the excellent benefits of the circle.

Hello, cherished friends! You make me happy.

Deb: I found this so fascinating. Only 10% on circumstances reminds us of the old adage “money can’t buy happiness.” I am one of those people who is wired for happiness, thank God, and it has never changed for me. Sure, I get unhappy but my body always wants to BE happy. As I went down the list I was happy to be able to tick each and every thing off my own list. Wow, I am feeling lucky today!

49 comments:

  1. Funny how this post came today. I planned on leaving you this comment despite the topic, but it just so happens that is fits in completely:

    My children get on the bus at eight o'clock. I wave to them and blow them kisses. I come back into the house, make sure my youngest playing happily, and then I come to the computer. I check your blog. It is something I look forward to each day, even though I don't always leave a comment. Thank you for adding to my happiness everyday.
    -Molly

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    1. Well, that certainly made me feel even happier, Molly! Thank you! And I wholeheartedly feel the same way (as in looking forward to who's going to join us each day and what people are then going to share and/or discuss). :)

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  2. I read a book this summer on happiness, The Happiness Project, which chronicled one woman's decision to read the research on happiness and follow all the advice in turn. The book contributed to my choosing to take this trip even with a very limited budget. Happiness wasn't worth putting off in favour of waiting for a more opportune time to pursue it.
    I sometimes worry about the long-term effects of pursuing happiness rather than focusing on building a career or finding a life partner, but I can't imagine regretting it later. I keep my blog so I don't lose touch with my loved ones and contacts at home, and I go out and actively choose to do what makes me happy.

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    1. And I believe that you don't know that this might not lead to some future life/work path either. By that I mean, anything can happen -- and at least you've got a goal (that goal being happiness) and are working towards it, and any job you get or take or discover after this process will be imbued with the benefits of it. I take my hat off to you two!

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    2. you might even find a life partner or a career from doing things that make you happy , you never know . i met my boyfriend in a transport photography yahoo group . i have been his girlfriend since 2008 . if i had no being doing something to make me happy - taking photographs - i would never have met him.

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    3. love this, Linda!! I didn't realize that's how you met...

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  3. LOL Barb I had prepared a BIG SPEECH on this one. But Deb did it again. She proved she's the 58yr old (tiny) version of me. EXACTLY what I wanted to say.

    Lets see if I have to say something else.
    Really fascinating. And Wonderful and I'm THANKFUL that I am wired for happiness. Even when I get unhappy every fiber of my being wants to be happy, to feel good. When I was reading the list I was saying "YEP..got that....and that....ohh yess that.....yep....check....yes...".
    Nope. The same list. See what I mean? Its like the woman reads my mind!!!

    And this is one of my reasons for being happy!!! Being connected to you two. And to so many people all around the world!! Ahhh the world is soooo wonderful and there is soooo much to be happy for. I feel exhilarated and sooo alive to be in this time and space. WOWZER!
    Ohh and there is one thing that also aids in happiness. Every morning if we smile for a minute immediately after we wake up. We have a GREAT DAY! I tried and it worked!! :D

    Ohhh and I wanna share something we y'all, totally off-topic but makes me and my mom REALLY HAPPY. Today is my mom's RETIREMENT DAY!! 36 yrs she's worked and now she's finallly freee!!!!! A very happy independence day to her!!!!!!

    Did you notice I use a lot of exclamation marks when I'm happy??? I know I do them ALL.THE.TIME!!!!!!!!! :)

    I'M SOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY :D

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    1. Oh, wow, happy happy independence day for your mom!!! That is truly exciting. Wish her all the best from us!

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    2. YES YES YES I WILL!!!!! :D I'll watch the "happy" movie soon. I bet its amazing! :D

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  4. Oh I love this!!! I'd like to see this documentary! A lot of people I know need to see this. I mostly agree with number 1. I'm happy 99.9% of the time because I simply choose to be.

    This is a really good list. I think I agree with all of it! ^_^

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    1. Kelly, I did feel agreement with their findings too. And when you watch the doc, you really see how the list applies to people in the every day. I was especially moved and excited by the groups and communities who found ways to be independent and yet regularly came together to discuss and marvel at the end of the day (or once a week, or over tea, etc). Really showed how communal we are and how we need to nurture that side of our lives. I do consider TMA one of my beloved communities -- as well as the real-life communities that I've built and nurtured over many years, including, of course, my dear family.

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  5. I also completely agree with #1. I am generally happy simply because I choose to be. I see it MUCH more as a mental thing! I am a firm believer in a positive attitude.

    #8 is SOOOOOO true! I am so grateful for my little network of Berea people. And of course my amazing parents, who, whenever I talk to them, I ALWAYS feel better! :)

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    1. You and your sister really epitomize the benefits of both, Holly!

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  6. OOhhhhhh I LoVe that you posted about this today! Bradley & I are actually watching it tonight! We were going to watch last night but the Golden Globes held our interest. Anyways, very excited to watch it tonight.

    I too, (believe) I am one of those people who is wired for happiness. And coming from a long line of Manic depression, and Bipoler disorder, I feel beyond blessed.

    I also, do not believe that money can buy happiness....but i would rather cry my eyes out in my Jaguar ;)

    LoVe you gals!
    xoxoxo
    Sean'a

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    1. Awww I would cry my eyes out for not having a Jaguar in your Jaguar too. ;)

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    2. Funniest last line! And I'm sure you're not alone.

      I'd love to hear what you guys glean from the film, Seana. I would dare you not to smile through it, but that would be a waste of a dare, knowing you ;) love you too! xoxo

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    3. LoVed LoVed LoVed it! We both did. We also adore Tom Shadyac! Have you seen "i am"... ill send you the link now. xoxoxo Sean'a

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  7. I try to always maintain happy.

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  8. Have you read The Geography of Bliss? I think you might like it. It goes deeper, especially on the type and quality of those circles.

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    1. Nooo, fg, will definitely check that one out. Thank you!

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  9. Seeking generous, Croesus-style benefactor to disprove theory that money can't buy you (me) happiness. I will provide weekly Happiness Status reports, assuming there is Internet access in the South Pacific.

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    1. oh my god, James, thanks for this laugh!!!

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  10. Great blog. Happiness is being middle-aged. For me anyway. Just happy that I am doing what I want in life and not thinking I am too old to start over. I know money can't buy you happiness. But just a bit of botox will.

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    1. Yup, you got it pegged, Heidi Peach! xo

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  11. What is happiness really? I do enjoy the small things and laugh at things I find funny. One thing that I learned to do a while ago, is that I (try to) smile in every picture that is taken although I don't feel like it. This means that when I later look at the pics I will look happy and then i won't feel sad. I do get my kicks from travelling around but I will be perfectly fine if I don't do it. Do not want to test that, but I am really confident that I would be fine.

    I do have to wait till 3pm to find a new post. This means that I have to wait a whole day before I will be able to read the post. Well usually I am only able to comment when its time to go to bed as otherwise my nephew would like to write something. He can't so it would only be letters in no specific order :)

    Still I will be really happy when I am able to move out again to live by myself. I am crazy that way :))

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    1. I don't think that's crazy to want to live on your own. I think it's a really important part of growing up and learning who we are. I think you'll know if and when you need people around you after you've tasted that!

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    2. And especially since I have lived on my own for 15 years already ;) Well we did live together few years at first with my sister, but we did not live with our parents. I have lived here for almost 3 months now. One more and then I will move out. It's the personal space that I miss the most.

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  12. So interesting...Have to give this a bit more thought...

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  13. I love the fact that people spent time reseaching what makes us as a species 'happy'! That is an awesome topic to concentrate on :).

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    1. One of the doctors in the film did mention that when he started researching happiness, about 20 years ago, everyone really frowned on it! Apparently it was important to investigate what made us unhappy, but not what made us happy...

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  14. #1 I am using my 40% to the max right now. And I do believe that we are responsible for our own happiness I am generally a happy person, but at the moment I am definitely doing things that specifically make me happy. Being around Red and walking in the woods are two priorities right now. This blog also makes me happy and visiting with everyone on a daily basis makes me happy!!

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    1. I think that when we're in a time of stress knowing what "makes" us happy is maybe a nice go-to when our circumstances themselves can't possibly. Thinking of you, Jo!

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  15. I spent today proving that most, if not all, of those are correct. A dear friend of mine had day surgery (kidney stones lasered) and I was the chauffeur for the day. Driving her around, getting to the pharmacy, settled at home, et. I was USEFUL. I was out in mild weather. I was with a live person, as opposed to a keyboard. Productivity has lifted my mood significantly. It wouldn't last without my meds, so all these other things wouldn't help past a few hours (I know this based on my history.) However, adding all these to the meds---BIG plus.

    What's odd is one of my meds calms the bi-polar aspect of my issues. It levels me off, so that the LOWS don't get so low. The catch is it levels off the HIGHS, too. My adrenalin rushes only go so far now. I know people have noticed how calm and "in control" I've become. It's just a bummer that I can't get that extreme HIGH anymore, because this one med is preventing that.

    The one thing I'll argue with is the money thing. I don't know about gazillions of money, but certainly my idea of "enough" would take a LOT of stress off me, which can only help one's mood.
    The "how much money is enough?" debate really bothers me, specifically where professional athletes are concerned. Fred leaves one team for another because he's offered $20 million by the new team, but only $18.5 million from his old team. REALLY???? That $1.5 million is really gonna make the difference between eating and not eating? That fifth house is a dire necessity? THAT'S what will make you happy? No, it won't. So I don't get the point of it. Grrrr...
    I'll end the digression here, before I ruin an otherwise decent mood. :)

    My parents were the only ones to wish me happy birthday in person Friday. EVERYONE else wished me happy birthday on-line. That's where my social life, such as it is, is. Friday evening, I ran into a guy I went to high school with, and have reconnected with through Facebook. What a great surprise to be able to talk to a friend in person and find it's different from typing! I know it might seem obvious, but you don't know what a difference it makes when you haven't done it in a long time.

    ANYway, here's to happy, people!!

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    1. i was sitting in my dad room in his nursing home watching the news on Irish state TV RTE . northern Irish golfer Rory Mc illroy has just signed a deal with Nike worth €190 million Euro or in dollars $250 million . the guy is just 23 , granted he is an amazingly good golfer . who do you blame for sportsmen getting this kind of money? obviously Nike had sponsoring budget to burn , they sponsor tiger woods too. and they know this sort of sponsorship will get their products seen on TV all over the world . if they have that kind of big money and offer it to a famous sports person you can't really blame a sports person for saying yes to it .

      it is the same in the sport i love , football ( soccer) . the premier league in the UK is filled with over earning stars , not to mention teams owners too .

      anyway back on track . i certainly agree with point 8 barbara . for those of you that don;t know my Dad has dementia and is in a nursing home . when he sees mom and i come in to visit him of an evening his face seems to light up with a bright smile , he seems really happy to see us .
      last thursday afternoon i called into see him on my own , i was out food shopping and my route home took my right past the nursing home . i thought i would be taking mom and i back to see dad that evening but she had just had some cancer treatment the previous day and was feeling a bit run down . as i had seen him already we did'nt go in to see dad in the evening . he forgot i had been in as he is used to both mom and i visiting . a couple of days later one of the nurses told me for the first time ever he refused to go to bed. he thought we were coming in and wanted to be in the sitting room to see us .
      Dad also doesn't talk too much as he has a serious hearing problem too . well he talks to mom and i as much as he can .we have even made him laugh with some jokes . it is nice to see dad happy .

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    2. I've hard that down side about the highs not being so high. That must be hard. And yet, clearly, it's by far the best high for you, from the sounds of it! I do love how you spent your day, Dawn. Lucky friend! And about the b'day, yeah, that's a good reminder that our circles can't only be through screens and pads...

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    3. Linda, you and I crossed on this one. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I know in essence it's a sad one, but there is so much sweetness and love in your tales that they still make me smile and feel good. Sending love!

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  16. I really needed to read this list today- thank you! It's so easy to concentrate on that 10% circumstance when you're down and forget about the 40% what we can do!

    Btw I've read that #2 is one of the ways of maintaining a happy relationship- if you explore new places and try new things you get the rush of happy chemicals in your brain, and if you're doing these things with your partner you associate that feeling of happiness and excitement with them. So it improves how happy you are as a couple, not just an individual.

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    1. Oh, that's a a lovely point, Samara. Makes soooo much sense too. Goes back to that point about making yourself happy, and as a result, making everyone around you happier.

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  17. Especially this time of year, I need color. There are times I'll get in the car and go to the city (provided I have the gas $, that can be a real barrier and trigger the feeling of being trapped) not to shop or anything beyond a $3 meal while I'm there but just to go where there are people, movement, color, stimulation, change, etc. Just a change of environment.

    Hearing languages OTHER than English and Spanish also does me well.

    But, I really need color and light. Very, very much.

    Music is great, but it can only go so far in a cave.

    Color, color, color.

    Sometimes, just even spending 30 min. on the yarn and embroidery floss row at the store helps!

    And, this is gonna sound crazy, but I really like sitting and drinking a diet coke and just chilling at the local Burger King on a big travel day (e.g. day after Christmas, end of 3 day weekend, etc.) because I see/hear/interact with people from the outside world.

    Of course, I've been known to stand on the bank of the Mississippi River with my thumb stuck out like a hitchhiker as the tugs go by pushing barges.

    *sigh*

    I gotta get outta here.

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    1. I completely relate to this, Rigel. Colour, light, movement. My girls suggested I do my writing in a coffee shop. For the cost of a tea ($1.50), I can have the ambient white noise of interaction and then go into the world I need to go into for as many hours as I can work. It's amazing how much it helps -- especially in winter. Love the line about the hitchhiking!

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    2. I could make a video, wearing colourful clothes, talking to you in German? ;)

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    3. Please do! :) That would be delightful!

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    4. http://youtu.be/Mmv4AGY9w3A here it is :)

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  18. That it's only 10% circumstances doesn't really surprise me.
    It's not who you are...it's not how you feel. Of course, if you suffer from a war, hunger or poverty, people might think that you cannot be happy.
    But I guess, you define happiness differently. :)

    I just learned yesterday that life can be very short, and that you should always make the best out of a day.

    Some really small things do make me happy - not that I can live in a bubble full of joy and fun, but at least to make me smile and all tingly. ;)

    I love making other people happy. I love to help and support them. I love to listen to them. I love to be useful and worthy. :)

    Writing makes me happy. Listenting to music. Sunshine (somehow the sun has become very shy!). Reading. Watching tv shows. My beloved bunnies. Finding a geocache. Meeting my friends (very rare). Hugging. And you. :)

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    1. I'm always amazed to hear stories of people who felt happiness even through hunger or war. Simply amazes me.

      I truly love your own happy list here, Becki. Makes me happy :)

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  19. Souzan from Vancouver, BCJanuary 16, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    One of my closest friends, Meghan is my favourite constant example and reminder that it is in our own power to incorporate some 'happy' in every part of the day:

    Every time Megs eats a mandarin orange, she peels it open in a star. Meghan is twenty-five years old, and regardless of the setting-- in class, on the bus, in the waiting room of the hospital... she peels her mandarin oranges into a star, because it makes her happy.
    (Meghan is awesome.)

    I love this post, Barb, because it really is a reminder with proof, that a lot of happiness is of our own volition. Meghan does this so naturally, and it is my fortune in being her friend that I get to learn from it. When you actually break it down this way, there are TONS of things in eery single day that you can choose to allow to make you a LITTLE BIT happier. From there, you can move on to all the other steps and realize that it is in your own power to make yourself a LOT happier!

    For myself, having come to a similar list of how-to-be-happy from conclusions of my past few years, I addressed trying to do the various steps in the same way I approached taking vitamins:
    they say it takes four months for supplements to build up enough in your system to actually take an effect. Likewise, 'they' say that it takes three months to truly form a habit, so what I did was commit myself to taking vitamins for four months, I put a start date and a four month marker in my calendar, and then agreed to never think about whether or not I feel any different until four months later.
    The same with my 'happiness' steps, I started taking classes/exercising/'switching it up' and whatnot, and agreed to not judge whether or not I felt happier until three months later.
    This helped me be proactive when I didn't feel proactive, and the bonus was that it did not take three months at all to determine that I definitely feel happier!

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