Actually, it’s not just thoughts, but our actions and our relationships that make us truly happy. According to the premise of the documentary Happy, a film that has (here it goes) happily made its way to Netflix streaming, our happiness is determined according to this mix: 50% genetics (you’re born that way), 10% circumstances (that new Rolex won’t make much difference) and 40% our own choices. In other words, our actions and decisions play a huge role in determining if we are walking around with a frown or grinning with glee.
As the film explains, the man pulling the rickshaw in India is as happy as the average American living in relative splendor. The Himba tribe people in Namibia have no physical wealth, but have the deep connections of family and culture that have endured millennia. They love their lives. Everyone is family, and when one is hurting, they all feel the pain. These examples and others make the film’s case.
The flip side of the coin is brutal, ugly and bleak. Illustrating unhappy is the profile of the Japanese career man who dies of karoshi, literally working himself to death, dropping dead upon receiving news of a quality problem back at the plant. Sudden cardiac arrest and instant death have become all too common in a culture that expects 3,000+ hour work years (Do the math. It’s a lot of time.) and the smallest number of vacation days in the industrialized world. (Incidently, karoshi is most common on Sundays and at the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year in April. Apparently, the thought of returning to the office on Monday morning or facing tough new quotas can kill a guy, and it’s mostly guys.)
Happiness, ultimately, is a choice. We can choose to connect with and nurture healthy, meaningful relationships with others. Family and community that act like family make all the difference.
We can play. Or we can work ourselves to death.
We can enjoy the intrinsic pleasures of activities and relationships. Or we can chase the latest brands and get ourselves into debt trying to impress the world with our bling (until we find that nobody cares).
We can care for each other, serve each other, and build a life that matters. Or we can focus solely on ourselves, wondering why that 10% isn’t making us truly happy.
Do something for yourself that could change the way you see the world, your work, your relationships, your spirituality and everything else important. See the film.
Also see this: Thank Your Way to Happiness
Bill Florin is the President and Owner of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut.