I caught some of 20/20's show on Happiness last night as I was FINALLY taking down the Christmas decorations. It was good; I hardly ever watch 20/20 but was hooked when they mentioned that you can change your degree of happiness. I've already figured that out and was pleased to have that confirmation.
They basically said, and I hope I'm right, that 50% of your happiness quotient is genetic from your folks; 10% (here's a surprise) comes from your looks, wealth, and "stuff." However, 40% can be manipulated by your life, your choices, etc. They've done studies on people and found some have "happier" brains than others. . .but they found that with the right attitude, choices, and intent, you can increase your happiness. Buddhist monks rank off the chart in happiness. People in some hideously strict countries like Singapore measure as happier than people in the U.S. The country of Denmark, where 63% of income goes to taxes, are the happiest people in the world. I found that interesting, being a Capitalist Socialist (LOL) that most of their money goes to government...but in return, they trust their government to give them good medical care and support when needed. That can certainly take a load of stress off. They also had fewer autos than other countries; riding bikes everywhere and hence, in better physical condition. The "showiness" of material wealth wasn't prevalent. My one concern was that I felt like I was watching a video of life on another planet--all the people were white happy campers; there was no diversity. Are they happy because they know their tax dollars will be going to help people just like them? Hmm.
Homeless people in India ranked happier than homeless folk in the U.S. Why? Because there was more community and interpersonal support for survival there. In fact, a common theme was community...being with, taking care of, and supporting and fellowshipping with, others.
The part that interested me was the personal choice to be happy, to change your mindset, to find your joy...which we know comes from inside us, not from the outside. After many tests, they determined that you can actually change your brain to a happier thinking organ if you apply choice and imagination toward happiness. I know this is true--it has definitely happened to me in the last few months--but mostly because I asked God for it. My joy feeds my brain, which in turn, produces more joy. The God spark within us is the seed to finding that joy. Sure, genetics and the way we were made has a part in it...according to them, half of our happiness---but God didn't make us static and unchanging--He made us to experience life and He desires us to come to and with Him in that journey.
I think I learned that in the last few months- - -that joy comes quicker when we let go of ourselves, resolve to be at peace, think of others...and put our 'stuff' up to Him.