I watched a very interesting documentary on the plane during my recent travels. The film is called “Happy”, and the title alone is what intrigued me about it. The concepts they shared about happiness got so much of my attention that I started taking notes as the film played.

  • 50% percent of the differences in our happiness levels is in our genes (this is our set point). Only 10% is due to our circumstances. BUT 40% is due to our intentional activity.
  • Don’t adapt to what you are doing. Vary your activity. Seek out experiences that need dopamine. For example, participate in differing types of aerobic activity.
  • “Flow” is doing something difficult that you enjoy, having clear goals, feeling in control and forgetting your problems. People who experience flow on a regular basis are happier than those who don’t.
  • People who are happy are able to overcome adversity more quickly.
  • Money can’t buy happiness. Happiness has remained stagnant while US wealth has doubled. Once basic needs are met, money does not make people happier (Hedonic treadmill).

  • Extrinsic goals are money, status, and image. Intrinsic goals are inherently satisfying and include personal growth, relationships, and the desire to help.
  • Intrinsically oriented people are happier. Feeling valued = feeling happy.
  • People in Japan have been found to be wealthy but not happy. So many people there are dying AT work (as a result OF work) that they have a term for it – “karoshi” – death by work.
  • In contrast, Bhutan, has made an effort to maximize gross domestic happiness instead of maximizing GDP. They believe the job of government is to create an environment where citizens can pursue happiness – thinking rationally and holistically about self, society and the world.
  • Denmark is consistently one of the happiest nations on earth. They have the most amount of people living in co-housing communities receiving support from friends and extended “families.”
  • We need some thing bigger than ourselves to care about. Sometimes it is religion. Not all religious people are happy and not all religions are happy. Fundamentalist groups are less happy.
  • Social bonding and interaction are programmed to be intrinsically rewarding to humans. Cooperation releases dopamine (which produces feelings of happiness).
  • Compassion leads to happiness.
  • In Namibia, the bush men are interdependent on each other and the environment. When someone gets sick, the entire community participates in the healing process.
  • Meditating on happiness changes the brain in powerful observable ways. Literally the idea of “countingĀ our blessings.”
  • Happiness is a skill. It requires practice.

How do you find happiness?

1 Comment

  • Now I want to watch this film! But reading it (especially the dopamine comment) made me think of the movie “Legally Blonde” when she says, “Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make people happy. And happy people don’t just kill people.” LOL.

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