Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Are You Happy?

What do you want most for yourself? Your kids?  Is it to be happy?  This seems to be the answer for so many.  I recently watched the documentary Happy on Netflix and just a few minutes in started taking notes–I found it fascinating.  In our society, we often hear about the importance of money and our image connected to the belief that this will bring happiness.  Do you want to know how much money and how we look actually affects our overall happiness?

As per the study discussed in Happy they found that 50% of the difference in happiness levels is a genetic set range, only 10% comes from factors such as your job, the money you make, social status and health, and the final 40%, well, it's up to you.  These intentional activities are ones that you choose that increase dopamine and may allow you to become lost in the moment.  This might be activities like playing the piano or going for a run.  For Gary it was playing basketball and for myself it is hiking.  Along with this is the need to seek new experiences and changing things up–do you know how much I love planning for a trip?!  I do think that health would have a larger effect on happiness as it has certainly affected me in the past.

When I had young kids it was hard for me because as a very active person I was tied down to either being pregnant or breastfeeding and it inhibited me from getting out and doing what I felt I needed in my soul.  If you're a person who says "I won't let kids hold me back!" I get it.  I was back to playing football just six weeks after my first was born via C-section.  But, throw in a few more C-sections and an additional 20 lbs and the lack of a Fairy Godmother Babysitter, and my excursions decreased dramatically.  It's difficult feeling content when your day feels monotonous along with the other struggles in parenting.

Some other aspects which increase happiness are the following: close supportive family and friends, intrinsic goals  (desire for personal growth and close relationships), cooperation with others, practicing gratitude, compassion, participating in meaningful activities, doing things you love, faith, and how quickly you recover from adversity.  You make a choice when things happen in your life–the response is up to you. Will you feel defeated or hopeful? I feel that with this list I can see why I am more content as I get older.  I care less about what I look like and more about my heart.  I still struggle with hard days where I feel frustrated, angry, and a strong desire to be selfish, but overall, my contentment continues to increase.

With all of our basic needs met, more money does not come with more happiness after a certain point.  A study shows that happiness does increase with income but that it plateaus at a $75,000 annual salary. Job satisfaction may increase with a higher salary but not overall life satisfaction.  Another recent study shows that most people prioritize time over money–especially amongst seniors.

When you are happy it's often easier to function better and therefore reach the goals that you have set for yourself.  I highly recommend the documentary Happy on Netflix for some examples around the world of people who are very happy (Denmark) and those that are really struggling (Japan).  What I want overall for my kids is to love and be loved and I think happiness is definitely part of that; I hope they always desire to grow personally and demonstrate compassion towards others. Are you happy?  If not, what is holding you back?  If yes, what things in your life have helped you feel more content?



  1. Anonymous9:39 AM

    This is a wonderful post!

    I am definitely going to check out this documentary.

    Make it a great day!

  2. Anonymous11:09 AM

    We loved this documentary too!