The Art of Happiness

I recently came across these two glorious angels having a blast, the presence of joy and delight in the moment was perfection. Perhaps the trick is in finding it, seeing it and hearing it above the noise of your own thoughts.  To exhale into the laughter and fun of what’s happening around us  is truly a gift. The spirit in this moment was contagious, they were having so much fun. It was impossible not to share in their laughter and energy!

The concept of happiness as an attainable quantity is at once confounding and compelling. Can we take the position that maintaining a sense of well being and joy in our lives is a choice we make. Can being truly happy be a learned behavior ? Harvard University is offering a class this semester on ‘Positive Psychology’, which offers research findings on this relatively new aspect of psychology whose main focus is on what makes people happy. It has become the most popular class on campus, and I think for good reason. While we can only do so much to eradicate the external influences to our happiness, our internal resources are far greater. Follow this link to read the “Six Tips for Happiness” advice from the instructor of the class, Tal Ben-Shahar as reported on NPR. While simple they are profound reminders on how to access happiness.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5295168&sc=emaf

My own experience of happiness and it’s many facets always leads me to balance, and the pursuit of all things in moderation. In his book ‘Thrive’ Dan Buttner studies the countries known to be the happiest on earth, noting that Denmark’s “gross national happiness” is among the highest. He cites the country’s tax structure as one that enables people to have more freedom to make personal choices because money and status do not come into play. There a lawyer makes the same as a garbage man. The average work week is 37 hours, and vacation time is a full six weeks yearly! He notes the liberal work schedule and careers chosen for reasons other than prestige offers greater happiness overall. This resonates with me as it appeals to my sense of balance, as it shifts priorities to personal growth and choice. Denmark is a country where 4 million people excel at furniture design and architecture. To live your life as your spirit  dictates seems to enable a far greater potential for happiness.

 

Gretchen Rueben is the author of the book “The Happiness Project” for which she spent a year exploring the scientific  concepts, popular culture and long held wisdom about how to be happier. I found it to be a charming and fascinating read, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. She has also made a one minute film called “The Years Are Short” you can view it here: www.theyearsareshort.com

This short film delights me, and it reminds me that life moves so quickly, that living in the moment, genuinely experiencing the people you are sharing your life with is magical, and a path to authentic happiness and fulfillment. There are volumes written about the pursuit of happiness, and I find myself riveted by the available research..

As spring arrives and renewal is in evidence all around us, I find myself truly optimistic. It is in my nature, but somehow now more than ever I feel a personal responsibility to encourage wellness and joy all around me. The presence of gratitude and service to others is paramount to personal happiness. We are very capable of being conduits to those less fortunate, or less capable and the upside is that it apparently makes us happier to do so.

Perhaps my own thoughts are fundamentally rooted in Buddhism as their teachings encourage us to generate loving kindness and compassion with an open heart that inspires the desire for the happiness and welfare of all beings. This feels right for me, I never want to dance alone, I choose happiness.

Comments

  1. Kim Brakeley says:

    Ah, I love this post! I ALWAYS want to always feel that somewhere in my heart is a girl wearing a brightly colored tutu ready to spin & dance with joy. The day I can’t find or reach her is the day I know I may be in real trouble!
    Thanks you Lola, from a girl in a perpetual tutu,
    Kimmie

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