Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy (or not!)

It just takes a mentality (or a dance move) to turn your frown upside down!

The constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.. 
you have to catch it yourself. ~Benjamin Franklin

As soon as I heard about the documentary called Happy, I knew it was not to be missed! Charming stories about where certain people find happiness, scientists and doctors using words like GNH- gross natl happiness factor- to explain the affect happiness has on the brain, the body, the economy, the environment and society.

Happy is defined as:

   1. Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
    2. Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)

synonymsglad - fortunate - joyful - lucky - merry - cheerful

The documentary is something I highly recommend tuning into. Why not!? It shows people who suffer through real situations and come out the other side better for it. It shows that appearances mean very little when it comes to actual happiness. Duh! As if we don't already know this.

Some interesting facts... scientists have found that genetics have to do with happiness. About 50% of our happiness factor has to do with our genes. About 10% is circumstance. The other 40% is totally based upon intentional behavior! So that means you could grow up in the Adam's Family, feel totally restricted by your present circumstances (no money, no lover, no dream, no job, not enough, no status) and still decide to simply be happy!

The filmmakers argue that the statement 'money doesn't buy you happiness' isn't necessarily true. If you don't have enough money to cover your basic needs, it's hard to embrace your joy. But the reverse is also true- 'money can't really buy happiness.' The difference in contentment between someone who makes $5,000 to support a family and $50,000 is substantial. The difference between earning $50,000 and $5 million has relatively no affect on your cheeriness or contentment factor.

'It doesn't make sense to just make money for yourself when you don't take care of yourself, when you're not dreaming or happy.' ~Brasilian surfer in Happy

Nature as my church - Hoh Rainforest, WA

Once your basic needs are covered, happiness is found within, or intrinsically. Extrinsic goals are the ones that society tends to emphasize (rewards, praise, getting stuff, money, image, status). Intrinsic goals are on the exact opposite spectrum of the value system and are inherently satisfying (personal growth or knowing one's self, relationships, community, the desire to help).

Those who are surrounded by supportive family and friends, a community, are often the ones who are most satisfied and merry. This doesn't have to be a huge circle, but honor and be there for the ones who are in it. Happiness is also found by living authentically, in your true essence. It's about offering your gifts. The movie states that the basic premise of happiness is in 'having something to give somebody, that doesn't have something you have'. We transition from 'what we don't have' to 'what do I have to share.' I believe we all have our own Personal Legends to share, what's yours? 

What do you have to offer? To the person next to you, to your family, to your best friend...

Play dress up with your friend's kids...
I am most certainly not here to say that we should 'be happy' all the time, like 24/7. Not at all! In fact, I think embracing any and all emotion is the key to fulfillment. But in the end, one of the key ingredients in happiness is being able to recover from adversity more readily. One lady in the film, a former debutante, was in a tragic and life chagning accident that left her deformed and disfigured. She gave me so much hope! She realized that through her breakdown, and subsequent breakthrough, that life was better on the other side. I also particularly related to horses playing an integral role in her healing process. She goes on to say...

'It's a strange truth, but the truth is, I am a happier person. I think that you can make a choice when things happen in life.'

So when you are confronted with the choice to choose lemonade over lemons, choose to partake in activities that release dopamine, choose to take the reins of your own being! Exercise is a fantastic one, pues claro. But doing the norm in a not so norm way also has huge benefits. Random acts of kindness were ranked highest on the happiness inducing factor. Also up there were counting your blessings on a regular basis, as well as mindfulness meditations on compassion. What does it for you? Why not try 'em all?!

If you’ve finally decided, once and for all, to be happy, yet you aren’t – 
then you haven’t yet decided, once and for all, to be happy.
- Mike Dooley

Go find someone (or a tree) to hug, to laugh with, or to simply listen to. If you are open to it, these things will present themselves to you. And if you're wearing an ape suit while you're at it, then all the more happiness to you!!!

Now let the musical genius of Bobby McFerren carry your woes away...

Namaste Y'all!!!!

I've included some things that make me happy...
Share in the comments below what does it for you! 

Farm work & maté amongst the critters!

Kangaroo lounging in Oz!

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