International Happiness Day: What’s The point?

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Happiness. Does it come with beauty and fame, with a white picket fenced house and 2.5 kids, or with the latest pair of designer shoes?

For hundreds of years scientists, philosophers and philanthropists have been trying to tell us in so many ways that long lasting happiness doesn’t come from the pursuit and accumulation of material possessions, money or beauty. And yet, to this very day many of us continue to put conditions to our happiness; when I’m thinner, when I get married, when I earn more, when I get a bigger house…

We say we want to be happy, but many of us don’t know how to make ourselves happy. Even when we learn what it takes to be truly happy, we still won’t do it, because it’s not true happiness many of us we chase, but the fleeting emotional highs we get when we buy something we can barely afford or eat something we know we shouldn’t eat.

And some of us crave the subsequent lows as much as the highs. Sadly, we’ve become emotional roller coaster addicts, so much so that when we get to experience the seamless elegance and quiet contentedness true happiness brings along, we sometimes ignore it or don’t even notice it, we’re so busy chasing our next high.

Intelligent humans as we consider ourselves to be, here we are, still trying to buy happiness and believing our own lie.

Dozens of studies in the past few years in the fields of psychology, sociology, economics, education, business and political science all have reached the same basic conclusion: happiness is achievable. In fact a  happy society is a more profitable society.

Happy people are healthier physically and mentally, happy employees are less likely to take sick days, happy professionals are more productive, happy children grow up to be healthier and more optimistic adults… happy people are not only easier to be around than unhappy people, but also produce more and cost less to society.

And yet, many people still see happiness as a secondary goal, running behind wealth, advancement, power, financial security, fame and whatever else other seemingly more “successful” people have going on in their lives.

Martin Seligman, considered by many as the father of positive psychology, describes three different kinds of happy lives: The Pleasant Life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, The Life of Engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure, and The Meaningful Life, which consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.

After researching what accounts for ultimate satisfaction, Seligman says the pursuit of pleasure has hardly any contribution to lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is “the whipped cream and the cherry” that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory lives founded by the simultaneous pursuit of meaning and engagement.

And while it might sound like a challenging feat to to tackle concepts like meaning and engagement, happy people have habits we all can introduce into our everyday life that will help big up the true bliss factor. In my next blog post I’ll share some of these habits with you. In the meantime, be sure to clap along to this :-):

 

On June 28, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/281, which states, in part:

The General Assembly, conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, decides to proclaim March 20 the International Day of Happiness

 

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