Wednesday, 24 July 2013
The other day Matthew came home from school and announced that he was a changed man. He had watched a documentary on Netflix called “Happy,” and he had decided that he was ready to try lots of new things and have lots of new experiences. According the documentary, intentional behaviors and novel experiences make up a whopping 40% of one’s total happiness, and Matthew says he’s ready to claim that slice of his pie, so to speak.
This brand new outlook of his pleased me greatly. I am all about trying new things and having new experiences (maybe that’s why I’m a generally happy person?), and thus far, I often didn’t feel I had him on board with me in that regard. I mean, I totally understand that he’s been a little busy with law school the past couple of years, so he got a free pass for a while. But now that school is winding down (he only has two more weeks, omg), things are about to get real. Pretty soon maybe we’ll have some semblance of a normal life, and we’ll be able to incorporate normal activities and habits into our lives. We have grand plans about how fantastic that will be. But happiness only exists in the right now, right? You have to figure out how to be that now, or you’ll never figure out how to be it.
So out of curiousity, I watched the Happy documentary, too. Have you seen it? It’s a few years old now, I believe. (Here's a short trailer.) I was both intrigued and touched by it. It covers happiness research over the last 25+ years and people’s stories all over the globe, and it was just so great to be reminded that there’s so much more beyond our little bubbles, so many other ways to be and so many other definitions of happiness. According the research, only 10% of our happiness comes from things like our wealth, our health, our jobs, and our social status. 50% of our happiness comes from our genetic makeup, which I found especially interesting. The documentarly claims that most of us are born with a set happiness range that we typically fall into, regardless of whether good or bad things happen to us. I find that to be pretty true with myself and people in my life.
And the final 40% is that intentional behavior. Researchers recommend making even the tiniest changes in your routine, like running a different route on your jog or going to a different grocery store or what have you. It’s all about tricking your brain to produce more dopamine, the happiness chemical. So if you’re someone who often finds themself in a rut or even depressed or just not as happy as you’d like to be, perhaps try signing up for a cooking or pottery or watercolor class, or hitting up a new lunch spot, or just taking a different route on your drive home. Worth a shot. ;)
What type of activities do you find make you most happy? Personally, I get a mini-happiness-high whenever I’m around dogs, beautifully presented food, and when I’m doing things that fulfill me, like writing and photography. It also feels really great to connect with other humans - whether they be people already in my life, or someone I just met in line at the grocery store.
Hope you have a happy Wednesday. :)