UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE: This Lancaster Newspapers’ article (March 11, 2011) confirms that this is a happy place.
Do you ever think about what really makes you happy? Do you fantasize how happy you would be if you won a mega-lottery? We happened upon this series of articles about this very topic recently and it turns out that what makes people happy has got very little to do with “stuff.”
According to an article from YES Magazine, the government of “Bhutan has pioneered the use of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a measure of progress, instead of the more commonly used GNP. GNH measures not only economic activity, but also cultural, ecological, and spiritual well-being.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley cites four areas (broad strategies or indicators) that to foster and measure happiness among its citizens:
- sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development,
- realizing and working to conserve a fragile ecology,
- the promotion of culture, which includes preservation of the various aspects of our culture that continue to be relevant and supportive of Bhutan’s purpose as a human civilization. Among the various things that we do is ensure that, as small as we are and as vulnerable as we may appear to be, no Bhutanese should suffer a sense of insecurity arising from loss of their cultural identity, language, and so on, under the onslaught of modernization.
- good governance — on which the other three strategies or indicators depend. We know that democracy is the best form of governance.
Another article that appeared in YES Magazine (10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy), suggests that our “actions can have a significant effect on happiness and satisfaction with life.” This article lists the top ten “happy” actions and paths for us.
- Savor everyday moments — Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play; make time to “savor” ordinary events.
- Avoid comparisons— Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction.
- Put money low on the list — “‘People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem,’ say researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. ‘The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,’ Ryan says.”
- Set meaningful goals.
- Take the inistive at work — Use your creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job.
- Make friends and treasure family— Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive close relationships.
- Smile even when you don’t feel like it.
- Say ‘thank you’ like you mean it.
- Get out an exercise — Research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem. Columbia is a great place to walk; take a walk across the bridge or stroll through the neighborhoods.
- Give It Away, Give It Away Now! “Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a ‘helper’s high,’ and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.”
Isn’t it wonderful that every one of the above “things” are right here in Columbia. No wonder happy abounds here.