Is America the best nation in the world?
Many say yes, but that doesn’t mean we have no trouble.
We have plenty of trouble.
Despite the trouble, we have multiplied opportunities to experience a happy life. However, recent research shows that happiness in America is in decline.
The latest World Happiness Report finds that life satisfaction fell by 6% in the United States between 2007 and 2018. This change is evident by the number of people who say they’re not too happy: 13% in 2018 compared with 8% in 1990. That’s over a 50% increase in unhappy people.
The mystery of happiness
The Oxford English Dictionary defines happiness as “a feeling, showing pleasure or contentment.”
On certain days, we wake up happy and don’t know why. Other days, we open our eyes to despair and wonder; Where’s my happy feeling?
Is happiness dependent upon circumstances? No. Happiness is a choice, not a circumstance.
If happiness is dependent upon circumstances, why are the wealthiest not the happiest? Yes, money handles trouble, but there are tons of happy people without money.
Jim Carrey coined it best: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Happiness is intentional
Intentional living means dropping what we assume our life should resemble and deal with what it is. Happiness eludes us. Can we unlock it? Yes.
Happiness is stimulated when we: listen to great music, watch a movie, read a book, walk on the beach, or reach out to a friend. Happiness is an emotional feeling following a decision. The door to happiness is through willful action. Happiness is a choice.
So, the question is: Can we act our way into a new way of thinking or think our way into a new way of acting?
Psychologists Michael Woodward says: “Moving towards your potential fuels happiness.”
Happify.com suggest 14 things that stimulate happiness.
Let’s consider these 8:
- Happy people are more successful in multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health.
- Happy people get sick less often and experience fewer symptoms when they get sick.
- Happy people have more friends and a better support system.
- Happy people donate more to charity (and giving money to charity makes you happy, too).
- Happy people are more helpful and more likely to volunteer — which also makes you happier!
- Happy people have an easier time navigating through life since optimism eases pain, sadness, and grief.
- Happy people engage in deeper and more meaningful conversations.
- Happy people live longer than those who are not as happy.
Wow! Happy people live longer, volunteer more, are more generous, sick less often, experience more success, and enjoy better relationships.
Good relationships and happiness are connected. Happy people build meaningful relationships. Healthy relationships from immediate family members stimulate happy endorphins and great relationships make the world a better place. Studies confirm that healthy relationships are a significant factor in experiencing genuine happiness.
Happy people also experience better health, improved social skills, higher-paying jobs, and healthier self-esteem.
We can practice gratefulness. It is key to a happy life. Gratefulness is like a natural superpower.
Happiness and gratefulness are like twins. Recent studies reveal that grateful people are more energetic, forgiving, emotionally stable, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely.
Charles Dickens says: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
This forces us to answer the question; Is happiness our primary purpose?
Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “The purpose of life is not happiness. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
According to Emerson, the purpose of life is not happiness but being useful, honorable, and compassionate. That sounds like a choice to me.
Unless we choose an alternative.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment below.
A portion of this article was published first at Medium.com.