Friday, January 28, 2011

Happiness

Joining a club that makes you show up once a month has the same impact on your happiness as doubling your income. Widen your social circle in an authentic way. - Dan Buettner

Pretty much what he's saying is that things/money don't make you happier and I, for one, agree with him. Yes, this was from an Oprah show the other day. I'm not one of those people who does whatever Oprah says and I haven't seen every show, but I have been PVRing them all this last season because ... well, because it's her last season. If it's a topic I'm not so interested in, I delete it, but this one was a good one. I enjoyed the whole show, but when the guy said the above quote, I started taking notes. Here are some of my other notes that either Oprah said, Goldie Hawn said or Dan Buettner said:

Even when giving gifts, it's better to give experiences. The impact of a new thing only lasts about 9 months, but an experience (cooking class, vacation etc.), that is a memory that will increase happiness for the long term.

I couldn't agree more with this. Last year I didn't know what to get my Mom for Christmas, so I decided to get her tickets to Fiddler on the Roof. Unfortunately, they live in Calgary and I wasn't able to fly or drive out to join her, but her and her friend had a GREAT time and she mentioned it a few times. This year, I decided to take my sister and Mom to see The Canadian Tenors as their Christmas gift and my sister said it was the best Christmas gift she's gotten in her 48 years. I'd say an experience like that can be priceless. I'm sure our age has something to do with it and if I was a kid I might have wanted something tangible instead and that's ok, but I'm liking this whole "experience as a gift" thing.

If happiness is a cake recipe, the most important ingredients are:

- good job
- did I marry the right person
- do I volunteer in a way where I feel I'm giving back
- where you live

I agree with the list above, but I would've added loving family and friends to the list as well. The "where you live" point isn't super important to me, so I'm probably not the best person to ask on this one ... as you know, I moved around for the last 5 1/2 years. I really enjoy my new place, but my happiness doesn't depend on it, but every one's different, so that's my only questionable point on his list ... but I understand that it might not be for other people. Right now I can only imagine that marrying the right person would be vital to your happiness, but I've seen a lot of unhappy marriages around me and I'd say this is a VERY important point. Don't get married just for the sake of getting married. Thinking about my future spouse, if there is one, the thought that he is my best friend is such a comforting thought. I wouldn't settle for anything less. This last year I became a Big Sister, and although it hasn't been without it's issues and hard times, I completely agree that volunteering in a way where I feel I'm giving back has completely added to my happiness. It really does give you a sense of worth in a new way ... and not in a "pat myself on the back," "aren't I awesome?" type of way. It just feels good. I can't describe it more than that. A good job is super important as most people spend most of their day there. I've been in good jobs, great jobs and bad jobs and I can attest to the fact that my happiness went up and down with each experience. Is that right? Probably not, but after being in a crappy job for years, it's hard to look forward to getting up and going to work ... ok, who am I kidding? Even in my great job I didn't look forward to getting up and going to work ... it is work, after all! haha Oprah had a lady on her show that worked in a toll booth and she just LOVES her job. Oprah asked her if she thought she was born happy or did she make herself this way ... the lady said, "Oh no, I was definitely born this way. My whole family is happy." If that's the case, I think this lady would've been happy in any job ... but they didn't discuss that point. And speaking of jobs:

Which one do you think is the happiest job in America:

- Travel Agent
- Clergy
- Special Ed Teacher
- Firefighter

If you answered "All of the Above" you're correct. Not one of these jobs (on average) pays more than $50,000 a year. Go after what gives you bliss, not bucks. The happiest people get 8 hours of social interaction a day.

Now, some people just aren't a "people person" as the phrase goes, so obviously some people would disagree with this last statement. I do love that "CEO of some big company" or "Actor" aren't on this list, though, because it proves that you don't have to get paid a whole wackload of money to be happy. Which brings me back to the point that things really don't bring you happiness. Lasting happiness, that is. Yes, money most of the time would make life easier, but I don't think your happiness should depend on it. The only thing I wish they would've discussed on the show is that I think happiness, for the most part, is a choice.

I'm going to choose to be happy today ... how about you?

6 comments:

Unknown said...

I really loved this episode. (And like you, I've been PVR-ing all the episodes of this season because it's her last.) The point that has really stuck with me was that new things only give you happiness for 9 months but experiences give you happiness for a lifetime. I think I loved that point so much because it's how we live our lives. We don't have a fancy house, a fancy car or fancy clothes. But we do have oodles and oodles of happy experiences together. I'm sure that's why we're such a happy family. :)

Rachel said...

I like this post!!!
I am sooo with you about giving experiences as gifts. Those are my favorite kind of thing to give. Trying to find 'stuff' that someone would like and mostly likely doesn't need is torture for me. I'd much rather give a gift of a show, trip, outing etc.
And for me...being happy in my job has given me a new outlook on life. I feel like I am making difference and I get such a feeling of accomplishment. I didn't realize how unhappy I was at my old job until I started my new one. It's really made a huge change. THAT being said I do agree that happiness is a choice and one can chose to be happy despite their circumstances.

Kori's House said...

Great post Fiona!
I think your last post sums it up best!!

Jennie said...

I, wholeheartedly agree!!

Jennie said...

Ohhh, it let me post a comment! I fixed it!! I am a computer genius! :)

villagegirl said...

Great post. I can't really ad anything too it, I just agree!
And Yes, happiness is a choice. You can't always choose your circumstances but you can always choose to make the best of them and find things to be happy about!
I love the gift ideas too. I'm going to start doing that more!