A Global Vision of Happiness

January 14, 2013

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One of the best things about having a blog that focuses on happiness is “having” to read various happiness-themed books. I recently stumbled upon a cool one: The World Book of Happiness, edited by Leo Bormans. Bormans asked 100 experts in the field of positive psychology to sum up their work in 1,000 words or less, using terms the average person would understand. These insights were to be research based, not “spiritual philosophy.” Here are a few tidbits to whet your interest:

Once basic needs are met, more money does not equal more happiness. This is called the Happiness Paradox. (Stavros Drakopoulos)

While happiness can be pursued, we shouldn’t use the laws for outer achievement (“brute force and adrenaline-charged action”) in that pursuit. Instead, we should become “happiness detectives,” by observing our feelings, nurturing good times and always looking for new ways to increase happiness in ourselves and others. (Michael Hagerty)

In order to flourish, we should allow ourselves to feel (smile, laugh, cry when we need to), see, listen, taste and smell—participate in all the joys of life. Appreciate who and what we are, and anticipate and open ourselves to support from others. Ask for support if necessary, and provide it to those who need it. We are resilient, able to bounce back when faced with negatives, becoming stronger in the process. (D.J.W. Strumpfer)

Three universal components of happiness: Enjoyment—“possessing certain things that give one (passive) pleasure; contentedness—“the equilibrium between needs and satisfaction”; achievement—“the fulfillment of one’s capacities…doing what one enjoys.” (Doh Chull Shin)

We don’t need to feel obligated to be happy and shouldn’t think of happiness as a right. Sadness is a normal and healthy emotion, and is sometimes necessary and worthwhile. If we want to feel happy again, stop doing things that make us miserable, stop thinking about our own happiness and reach out to help someone else. (Grant Duncan)

Happiness is like a muscle—there are many things we can do to “train” it. Focus on happiness (instead of unhappiness) and it grows. The pursuit of happiness involves mind, body and spirit, and there are things we can do to nurture each of these aspects of ourselves which will help us develop greater happiness. (Miriam Akhtar)

I expect to be dipping in and out of this book for a while, and I’ll be sure to share with you any new or profound discoveries.

If you had to sum up what you’ve learned about happiness, what would you write?

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  1. That sounds like a really good book. I think that in order to be happy we have to let go of resentments and forgive those who have hurt us. That is not easy, but it is very important.

    Giving when we are unhappy is helpful too, as Grant Duncan pointed out.

    Kathy I gave you an award on yesterday's post, thanking you for your thoughtful comments over the past couple of years.


    Kathy M.

  2. Kathy--Thank you so much for the award--I just saw it on your blog and haven't had a chance to comment on it yet. One of the very best things about blogging is the connection I feel with people I've "met" online.