20th March 2013 was the United Nations’ first ever ‘International Day of Happiness’. The importance of universal well-being is being given greater priority than ever before, thanks to its positive impact on all areas of economic, social and cultural life.
It’s pretty significant when 193 member states agree on a resolution like the International Day of Happiness. But they’re certainly not the first to recognise the value of this theme. Since 1971, the Buddhist state of Bhutan has famously rejected GDP in favour of GNH – Gross National Happiness.
As Bhutan’s minister of Education puts it:
“It’s easy to mine the land and fish the seas and get rich, yet we believe you cannot have a prosperous nation in the long run that does not conserve its natural environment or take care of the well-being of its people. This is being borne out by what is happening to the outside world. GNH is an aspiration, a set of guiding principles through which we are navigating our path towards a sustainable and equitable society.”
Studies in the UK corroborate the Bhutanese way of thinking, showing that despite a surge in economic growth over the past 50 years, we are no happier than we were in the 1960s. Scientists believe 50% of our happiness is down to genes, 10% is down to circumstances and 40% attributable to intentional behaviour.
So without moving to Bhutan, what can we do to boost that all-important 40%?
Clearly there are societal and cultural factors that influence well-being and it is important to address happiness from this angle. The particular work of Tall Spaghetti concerns more how we can support our own happiness through our behaviours, the way we use our mind, the way we live our lives.
Naturally, happiness is very much a personal thing, but there are certain factors considered by experts to have universal importance in creating happiness:
- Getting “in the zone” – i.e. becoming so absorbed in an activity that we forget ourselves. Nothing else matters or even exists. Many people find they experience this when exercising or doing something creative, like sculpture.
- Physical activity: endorphins are the body’s most powerful natural painkiller and promote a ‘natural high’ after exercise. Although this is well-known, it is not necessarily a regular habit for many. What difference might it make for you if it were a regular feature?
- New experiences/challenges: the joy of new achievements and personal growth.
- Meaningful relationships with family and friends.
- Kindness and gratitude: doing something selfless from time to time and being thankful for the good things in your own life.
- Being playful: laughter, like exercise, releases positive chemicals that last far longer than the moment itself. These tend to be in good supply when you’re accessing your childlike qualities.
There are also many internal workings that support happiness and well-being. Developing a regular mindfulness practice has benefitted many people in this respect.
Achieving greater happiness also comes down to intention.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”Abraham Lincoln
Sometimes happiness is ‘accidental’, but it’s also a skill – a skill you can learn and one that’s very much worth developing.
Work is a big part of your life, so it stands to reason that happiness there is as important as anywhere else. Training and coaching by Tall Spaghetti covers many well-being related themes and techniques that help transform mindsets and achieve self-perpetuating professional fulfilment, including the Well-being and Resilience Training Course. Interested? Give me a call on 07876 495 968 or get in touch via the quick contact form.