Yesterday I watched the Happy documentary, and it really changed my perspective on what happiness is, and how it is maintained. I cannot recommend it enough. (The documentary. Also happiness.)
This is a bit ... ironic? After my recent post containing the Hugh Mackay quote about challenging the concept of happiness (which has its valid points, nevertheless), but I am understanding happiness differently now.
In short (but seriously, go watch it):
Researchers claim that happiness is 50% genetic, a mere 10% circumstance (location, employment, etc.), and 40% something else they're calling 'flow'. Flow is composed of many things that make us happy - friends and family, faith, intrinsic goals, community service, physical activity, new experiences, and the cultivation of gratitude, compassion, and kindness within ourselves.
Flow occurs when you do what you love, just because you love it, and all those things that make you unhappy - like ego, and comparison - disappear.
Happiness is a skill that has to be practiced.
The documentary revolves around a series of interviews with people from numerous walks of life, and what makes them happy. From one story to the next, it isn't status, accomplishment, or wealth - it's a whole different value system that shows how people who own very little can be just as happy as people who have it all. The one thing they do all have in common is community.
Community forces you to care about something beyond yourself.
This brings to mind another documentary I watched this week called No Impact Man, about a NYC family who decides to dedicate one year to going green, all the way - no electricity, no waste, no negative impact on the environment - and their experience during this process. In the end, the instigator of the project, Colin Beavan (the husband, the writer), states that he believes 'very strongly that a lot of the environmental problems in our planet have come because of the breakdown of community. Because without community none of us feel accountable to anyone else. All of us are interconnected [....] If I make pollution, you have to breathe it in'.
We are all interconnected.
In Happy, researchers conclude that people are generally happier when they are living for something bigger than themselves. My favorite example is a successful man who chose to dedicate his life to menial tasks, serving others - and through this found great happiness. His values changed from someone who was once self-seeking and materialistic, to a man with deep gratitude, humility, and kindness.
A lot of food for thought, I know. So...
What are you grateful for?
What do you love doing most?
What can you do to help others?