What Makes Us Happy?


Is it how we act or how we perceive life?

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The Gallup organization recently published a study on “The Happiest People in the World?”  This was a global analysis as to who are the happiest people. Interestingly, they had to define happiness as either how you live life versus how you perceive life. If you believe in the former, Latin Americans are considered the happiest people as they are often laughing and smiling regardless of their economic situation. It you believe in the latter, Europeans are considered the happiest as they are more content with their station in life.

Personally, I look upon happiness as how you perceive life. If everything is going your way, you are happy, but if you seem to be at odds with everything, you’re unhappy. This is why I believe the United States is generally unhappy; nobody has faith in the government anymore and are constantly complaining about social injustice, and this goes for both sides of the political spectrum.

It seems we rarely laugh anymore, particularly in the workplace. Jokes are no longer told as they are now considered politically incorrect. Even common courtesy is uncommon. For example, when I say “good morning” to a stranger at the post office, I typically receive a glare in return. Kind of like saying suspiciously, “Yea, what do you want?”

What makes me particularly happy is to see a job well done, be it menial labor or a specially skilled craft. It occurs whenever a person takes on a professional attitude. In other words, someone who commands confidence in what they are doing and successfully produces quality work products on time and within budget. I very much appreciate it when someone is straight with me (no BS) and creates “win-win” scenarios where both parties benefit, not just one.

Unfortunately, instead of working cooperatively, we tend to operate more as self-centered narcissists, be it in the workplace, the highway, in neighborhoods, or even in stores and restaurants. Some of my happiest moments in life were team related, be it on the football field, coaching kids, or working on a major project charged with complexity. By everyone pitching in and doing what they are supposed to, it always seemed the sky was the limit. Or is this just me?

Maybe happiness is nothing more than how content we are with our lives, like the proverbial expression, “life is what we make of it.” If you are consumed by such weaknesses as jealousy and greed, you will likely be socially dysfunctional and consumed by unhappiness.

By the way, one of the key takeaways in the report, Gallup claimed that despite all the things we see in the news, the world isn’t doing too badly. We just need to learn to laugh and smile more regularly. Perhaps the key is to simply turn off our televisions, computers, and smart phones, and learn to socialize again. It’s that simple.

Keep the Faith!