Help Yourself to Happiness [part I]

by Rick Forbus, Ph.D.

Does your life have a high happiness quotient? Optimism is the root behavior that manifests in happy actions, and happy feelings. Like optimism, happiness is a thinking style that leads Help Yourself to Happinessto an “acting” style. In other words, as an Emotional Intelligent indicator, optimism (the tendency to expect the best), brings forth happiness thinking and actions. In my world, happiness is a declared doctrine of belief. This does not mean that I am happy every day, but in general, I have embraced the doctrine of happiness. A doctrine, or, a set of strong guidelines, can be imagined and then put in a canon of daily activities. Of course, as our narcissistic selves can do, happiness can become an over-indulgent obsession, as well. Moderation is the key to good happiness balance.

Don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened.     Dr. Seuss

In an Internet article by Caroline Wilmut some interesting concepts are put forth regarding happiness. The author asks this question: Is happiness good for your health? Then, the article goes on to say:

Happiness may not cure what ails you, a recent study suggests, but it might keep you from getting sick in the first place.

Dutch researcher Ruut Veenhoven analyzed 30 previous studies on happiness, trying to identify the relationship between happiness and health. His results, published in the September issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies, suggest that happy people are less likely to get sick, but becoming happier won’t improve the health of someone who is already ill. Veenhoven also found that happiness seems to add several years to a person’s life—an effect comparable to the difference in lifespan between smokers and non-smokers. But again, this only pertains to healthy populations: If you’re already sick, becoming happier won’t help you live longer.

Veenhoven was not able to determine exactly how happiness might keep the body fit. He speculates that it might boost the functioning of the immune system, help people form social connections (a known factor in good health), or encourage healthy behaviors such as weight monitoring. However, all of these hypotheses have received only modest empirical support.

On the basis of his findings, Veenhoven argues that happiness is a public health concern. Though he says governments shouldn’t get too involved in people’s private lives, he believes policy makers should encourage institutions, such as schools and nursing homes, to pay greater attention to the happiness of their members.

“Governments should aim at greater happiness for a greater number of citizens,” says Veenhoven, “not only for the sake of better health, but also because of other benefits of happiness, such as better citizenship.”

I believe, very unscientifically, that happiness cures or empowers such things as:

  • Over eating
  • Anger
  • Social unrest
  • Stress behaviors
  • Relational dysfunctions
  • Perceptions Management style
  • Leadership style
  • Communication
  • Gratitude issues
  • Parenting
  • More and more…

Ever noticed a child that hums, sings and skips through the day? Should we as adults strive for some childlikeness to our personalities? I think so. My wife, Nancy is a very positive person. Not much gets her down. As I watch her, especially at times when I sense I’m getting stressed over something, she manages to allow her happiness quotient to guide her through the situation. For her, I think it is just a natural default, for me, I have to work at it. The result, whether it is natural, or, contrived, is always better.

For Every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.     Ralph Waldo Emerson

Next month we will continue on the path of finding and helping ourselves to happiness.

If you found these tips from Rick Forbus, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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