60 Minutes did a segment on Happiness.
Here is a 12 minute excerpt, followed by some highlights from this episode and some additional perspectives on how to be happy.
Denmark tops the list of the happiest country in the world. The segment takes a look at what makes Danes so happy. As one of the researchers puts it, this may be due to the Danes modest expectations. It may also have to do with the fact that college students get paid to go to school, a dad gets paid for 6 months to stay home and care for his child, free healthcare for all, subsidized child care, and 6 weeks vacation. As one of the Danish college students interviewed for the segment “we are secured from the day we are born.” The average tax rate though is about 50%.Some Danish college students state what is important to them, work they enjoy, time with their families, low stress, and one of the students offers advice to Americans “don’t depend too much on the American Dream, you might get disappointed.” I don’t agree with the notion not to attempt something because you could fail.U.S. comes in as the 23rd happiest country. Dont worry we come in ahead of Iraq.Tal Ben Shahar a professor and researcher at Harvard University teaches the “most popular course on campus; “Positive Psychology”. He is also the author of the recently released “Happier”. He suggests Americans would not be willing to pay a 50% tax rate for the lifestyle the Danes have. Americans have higher expectations a “want it all” mentality focused on material things, which does not make one happier. He loosely defines happy as the intersection between doing something that has meaning to us and which gives us pleasure.Ben Shahar offers 5 easy steps to happiness:
Shahar goes on to say that the number one predictor of well-being is close friendships and relationships in general.
60 Minutes is not the only media outlet covering happiness as of late.
Good Morning America and 20/20 both did stories just last month on Happiness. GMA Interviewed UC Riverside Professor and Sonja Lyubomirsky; author of the recently released “The How of Happiness.”
Her research shows “If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find oursselves.” Based on her findings she offers 12 scientific strategies for happiness. ABC News has an excerpt of her book available.
This academic and scientific research on happiness stems from Positive Psychology, founded by Dr. Martin Seligman; Director of the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania. On their Authentic Happiness Website there are free questionaires which will measure different degrees of happiness, character, and other related areas.
I have great respect for the area of positive psychology. It serves as part of the foundation for the Life Coaching that I am trained in. While the academic research and findings are quite interesting, this look at Happiness would not be complete without mentioning “The Art Of The Happiness” by The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler. The book is a dialogue between the two authors. While not free of modern science and research, the core premises of this book are steeped in Buddhism.
These premises are:
Gretchen Rubin is a New York City based author an fellow blogger, currently working on a book called “ The Happiness Project”. It states on her blog that it will be “a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.”
So while there are a number of different perspectives and the subject of happiness is on a lot of people’s minds, with varying conclusions. One take-away for me is that so much of it has to do with our own attitude. The way that we choose to see things. The glass half-full or half-empty perspective. Do you need to have what you want, or want what you already have to be happy?
In 1945 Gunder Hagg of Sweden set the world record for running the fastest mile at just over 4:01. The record remaining static for almost 9 years, purpotrating a myth that it may just be impossible for a human to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
It is evident that not everyone believed it was impossible, as there were a number of runners feverishly competing to be the first run a mile in less than 4 minutes. One of these runners, Roger Bannister set the world record in 1954 by running a mile in 3:59:04. Interestingly, almost 2 months later John Landy beat Bannister’s record. Later Bannister bested his own and Landy’s record in a race with Landy who also set a new personal record. Was this just a coincidence?
This story illustrates how important it is to question our own self-limiting beliefs, and the constraints that others may attempt to place on us. There may have been an almost famous runner who decided not to attempt a 4 minute mile because he bought into the idea it was not possible Regardless, of how ingrained a belief may be in our minds, culture, community, or society it is worth challenging these beliefs.
If all believed that a 4 minute mile was impossible, Bannister nor anyone else may have never set that record. It is interesting to note that once he broke this barrier, other runners followed suit. His achievment opened up the idea that it was possible for others as well. The current record is just under 3:45 having been set in 1999.
What do you believe is impossible? What would happen if you believed it was possible?
In considering living to a ripe old age, the ideal is to maintain independence and a quality of life. A recent study takes a look at 5 common behaviors of men who have lived past age 90. Yes, I have friends who have had a grandmother that smoked into their 90’s, I would guess those are exceptions and not the rule. A new study led by Dr. Laurel B. Yates at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that a “healthy lifestyle in one’s elderly years may contribute to living past age 90 in men.”
Specifically the study mentions weight management, exercising regularly and not smoking as being factors that could play a role in increased life span. The researchers
estimate that”a 70-year-old man who did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and weight, no diabetes and exercised two to four times per week had a 54 percent probability of living to age 90.”
Any of these adverse factors could play a role in reducing probability of livng to age 90; Sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, obesity, smoking and diabetes. Various combinations of these factors raning from two to all five of them might give you only a 4 percent chance of living to age 90.
A key component of this study is that these factors also played a role in a better quality of life with better physical function, mental well-being, and self-perceived health in late life.
As the New York Times points out in an article citing this and other studies, there can be other mitigating factors including level of education and degree of social isolation which affect life expectancy.
The Times article cites another recent study which found that a large proportion of people who lived that long and lived with minimal or no assistance did so despite long-term chronic illness. In other words, instead of delaying disease, they delay disability. Dr. Dellara F. Terry, of Boston University, the another studies lead author.
Fast Company published 18 of the most innovative business minds of the past year. There are some familiar names on the list and some new. Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are you will find someone on this list who inspires you.
Included is Timothy Ferris; Author of The Four Hour Work Week.
Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he’s most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, “I’m asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable.”
Follow this link for the other honorees;
Often people feel stuck in their jobs, or have this underlying feeling that they are underperforming and underearner. “This is not how it was supposed to turn out.” Their situation could range anywhere from a financial crisis to being quite successful yet they end up getting stuck somewhere. You may be an underearner. Do you indentify with these symptoms?
If you are an underearner, the first thing you need to do is stop denying or pretending you aren’t one. Then there are some great steps you can take like finding a mentor, going to Debtor’s Anonymous-Don’t let the name fool you they have some great programs on underearning. Build a support network, find some friends who are earning more than you. A couple of great books to read on this subject are “The Soul of Money”; Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Millionaire Mind.