A few weeks ago I decided to run a LinkedIn poll, after I had read Daniel Nettle’s book ‘Happiness – the science behind the smile’. I enjoyed it and found it easy to ‘consume’. One thing I discovered was that we all ‘sense’ happiness differently, and our environment could be a contributor to what we consider happiness.
Even the notion of thinking about happiness can change our experience of life. So I asked the question “All things being considered do you feel happy?” – now whilst some of the comments chastised me for the completely unscientific nature of the ‘poll’ they actually missed the point.
If you take a moment to ‘consider’ happiness – go on do it now just for fun…[insert thinking time]. Most people take the time to realize – that the sun might be shining – or that they are healthy or that they have food and lodging for their family… so all of a sudden life does not look so bad.
I wanted 10,000 people to fill in the poll – not because it would make it any more statistically worthwhile – it is that 10,000 people would have taken a moment to think about happiness – as such they would have felt happier – and happiness is infectious. Oh well at least I made a difference to the 419 voters and the people who wrote the 44 comments.
In the book Nettle applied a scale to the happiness experience:
- Level One – momentary feelings such as joy or pleasure.
- Level Two – judgments regarding feelings of well being and satisfaction.
- Level Three – the quality of life we experience, such as flourishing or fulfillment of one’s potential.
What I am particularly interested in is not so much those moments of joy or pleasure that might be fleeting or pass quickly, (as per the poll) but more the sustained experience of life’s satisfaction. Of creating practices for ongoing well-being.
Life is imperfect and total bliss is not a reality. There is no such thing as Utopia – life is challenging – but we do have the power to influence how we accept those challenges and view the world. As humans we have the power of choice.
It is liberating to know that life is full of disappointments and struggles for everyone, so we can give up our anxiety that everyone is having a better time than us.
Happiness is a choice. The growing body of research is demonstrating that as we become happier, we become better people. As we become happier we become more compassionate, more creative, more energetic, more financially successful, more emotionally and physically healthy.
For those of us who are concerned with creating a “better” world, becoming happier and helping others become happier appears a very effective means to this end. Which is why I believe being thankful is easy option on the happiness journey
A shame I did not move the happiness index by touching 10,000 people with my blog – but I will continue on… encouraging people to say ‘Five Thanks a Day.’
Douglas Kabewa says
Wow Naomi, it must really be a quest for you to find what makes different people happy and lets them stay happy for longer. I bet you would become really successful and wealthy when it all comes together for you one day when you can just about connect with anyone and draw out the happiness in them and know how to sustain it longer. I believe the science, the biology and psychology, behind it is well understood and its only a matter of assessing an individual and finding the drive that makes them happy. We all need a personal coach that we can all talk to….