I happened to have a little bit of extra time recently and I dedicated it to watch the movie: Happy. This movie is about Roko Belic’s (the director) pursuit of happiness: he spent 5 years traveling around the world and asking people about happiness.
If I had to sum up the conclusion of the movie, then I would say: The best things in life are free and those are the ones that really makes us happy. Those are such things as playing, spending time with family and friends, appreciating what we have, doing things that are meaningful and having new experiences. Acts of kindness, compassion – that is in our blood from birth says the Dalai Lama – the joy that comes from connection, gratitude and with the help of compassion meditation changing our brain through intention (says Matthieu Ricard) are all acts leading to happiness.
The happiest moments in my life are related to nature: either digging the earth with the notion that some delicious veggies will end up on my plate or hiking somewhere with friends. Working in the field is a source of joy for the longevous habitants of Okinawa as well, while the citizens of the mainland of Japan are working themselves to death. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said, those people – similarly to the habitants of Okinawa – who experience flow on a regular basis are happier than those who don’t. In the state of flow people feel in control, they forget their problems and themselves, and they feel that life worth living after all. Those people who have experienced at least once in their life what it means being in flow (the zone) those will aspire to reach that mental state as many times as possible.
Most of you might think now: Oh, it’s easy to be in flow and be happy if you have loads of money and can do whatever you want to, if you are healthy and you are genetically coded to be happy and every circumstance of your life are supporting happiness.
Well. Ed Diener has started to research happiness in 1981 and has found the following:
Yes, happiness depends on your genes and circumstances: it is understandable that those people who cannot cover their basic needs either are less happy, but actually an Indian man living in a slum and riding a rickshaw has been interviewed as well. He said that he was happy when he was together with his family and they had a good house and a good life. What might make him saying that? It might come from that 40% that depends on us, on our intentions, what we choose to do: whether we accept the facts and try to bring out the best from it or lay down and whine about it. Happiness beside intentions depends on our values as well. Those people who have extrinsic goals and value money, status and image and crave for rewards, praise and getting stuff are less likely to be happy than people who have intrinsic goals such as personal growth, compassion, cooperation and to make the world a better place. People with extrinsic goals are more anxious, depressed. People with intrinsic goals are happier and have better relationships, healthier and have happier children. They have fewer conflicts and are less likely to commit crimes or pollute the environment. Happy people also tend to be socially responsible.
Happiness actually can help people to get their goals. I would highly recommend watching the movie, and if you would like to know how you can achieve happiness even at your workplace, then read Prof. Csikszentmihalyi’s book: Good Business.