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What Does It Take to Be Happy?

be happy

Recently I watched a documentary called 'Happy' which was really interesting. And as you may know, happiness is definitely way up there in my areas of interest!
This movie shared the latest research on what and how people become happy and which of those particular people in particular circumstances were happiest.
Being a coach of some twelve (12) years now, the results did not startle me but they did just affirm what I believe to be true from what I've personally seen over the past many years not just in Coaching with clients, but with people I've met from across two countries who come from varying socio economic backgrounds.
Inevitably the results proved that people who had the least financial and material wealth were the happiest, but bearing in mind that the prerequisite to this was that they had strong connections in one way and/or another, wether that be as a result of family, extended family and/or strong connections within the community.
In terms of those people who seemed to 'have it all', the old tale rings true of the more you earn the more you spend and in this case, the more they attained to make them happy, then the more they then needed to make them happier once again.
Certainly those that were happiest had a clear appreciation and gratitude for what they had in their lives and took joy from those everyday events and experiences. As an example these might be such things as: looking forward to seeing their children waiting for them when they arrived home from work; gathering with other community members each day; or looking forward to and spending regular time with their extended families. Whilst this research tells us many things, it seeks to remind us that even in the most trying and impoverished circumstances people can find happiness.
So sometimes being unhappy is like becoming immune to the violence that we see on TV each day. The more you watch violence, often the more oblivious and desensitised you can become to this, sometimes reaching that point when you don't even notice those moments much within a movie anymore. So what does this mean? Well the violence is still there, but we don't notice it... and the things to be happy for in our lives are still there, but we don't notice them anymore.
And what about happiness through acquiring possessions? We can often buy new things, wants and haves for ourselves which can become so routine that we forget how lucky and fortunate we are to even be able to buy these things in our lives. Don't get me wrong, for those who can afford to buy those many luxuries in life you've probably worked hard to be in that position, but it may also be true that compared to our country men and women from other countries, we may have had what is considered to be a dream start to life. Perspective is all I'm saying and asking you to consider these things and have an awareness of these things when you're feeling at your lowest or feeling like things are all going wrong all the time. Because in reality things are probably just going wrong right now for you. And that's a long long way from 'going wrong all the time'.
I often think that happiness in life is about perspective and in fact perspective is in most instances that one key thing that people forget to remember when things are not going so great. Or have the perspective to remember that whilst other things around you might be crumbling, you still have a roof over your head and food on the table. This is about putting yourself in the shoes of other people and realising that things indeed could be worse! Now don't ponder that thought too long however, just take away from it that things could be worse and they aren't! You've all heard about or seen the situations where people have to work in extreme conditions and many children who should be at school have to work to survive. Is this not perspective enough to make us consider that happiness begins at home, with everyday things and not in a state of constantly longing for that which we don't yet have? And in fact it is in your power and ability to begin appreciating what you do have right now. And is it not inspiring to learn that if you begin doing this today, you will draw towards you more of those same great experiences?
We have much to be happy for in our everyday lives and certainly in the world that most of us live in. It does not matter what your situation, I'm sure you can find something to be grateful or happy for even if only momentarily. In fact one of the easiest ways to begin generating more happiness in your life is to start watching something funny each day. This is particularly useful if you feel you really can't find anything in your life to be happy about. Just by watching funny videos or reading funny jokes, you will increase the happiness you feel in your mind and body each day and you may be surprised at how much this opens you up to more happy experiences in the world around you as your week progresses. If you leave your home smiling, I guarantee you that someone is going to see your own smile and smile too and you've just started an entire domino effect in your town or city for sharing a smile. It's like a ripple effect and who knows how many people that one smile of yours is going to affect the world around you today.
You just might be on the receiving end of one of those smiling ripple effects today yourself that someone else started! So smile, think of something to be happy for or make up a movie or picture in your mind of something that would make you extremely happy.
Now the research from the documentary, Happy, showed that the influence of various aspects of happiness for individuals can be broken down into these three (3) components:
  • 50% can be attributed to the genetics of happiness
  • 10% attributed to material wealth and a
  • Whopping 40% can be attributed to individual choices we make
There was a caption I read some time ago that made me pause and think and it was:
"I cried because I had no shoes... but then I met a man who had no feet"
So I ask you, what will you choose to spend your 40% of choice thinking about or doing today that will contribute to greater happiness for you tomorrow..
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