Saturday, February 23, 2013

happiness may be a choice

As I have mentioned, most people in a hospital such as mine are very depressed. Maybe my ears just perk up more when I hear the word, but depression is a widely publicized problem that is now treated commercially from a menu of multiple pharmaceuticals. It has been studied and categorized and is recognized as a potentially fatal but curable disease.

There's a good documentary ("happy") on Netflix about the opposite of depression, which is of course happiness. As it turns out, happiness has had its own scientific research. Now that we have the official results and not just opinion, I would like to point out the obvious. I might add that I took notes on the movie so I can perhaps turn it into a group topic in the future.

So, according to scientific studies, who is happy? Here are the answers:

People who don't seek their own happiness but who care about things that are greater than themselves.
People who recover from adversity, who keep close connections with the family and friends, who lift each others burdens, and perform acts of kindness.
People who have gratitude and cultivate compassion.
People who connect with the natural environment.
People who accept what has happened in their lives, as acceptance is a part of healing.
People who focus on intrinsic goals (personal growth, relationships, desire to help others) rather than extrinsic goals (money, image, status). Once our basic needs are met, money doesn't provide more happiness.

One of the happy men who was interviewed said this. "My life is a loan from God. I want to give it back with interest."

Interacting with nature and with other generations, getting physical exercise, counting our blessings, caring about and helping others, and having some variety in our lives can be ways of getting to happy. As we get there, our brain changes for the better. Happy people are more productive and live longer.

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