Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Are you happy?

Over the holidays, my mother and I were scrolling through Netflix one afternoon when the kids were fast asleep and we came upon a friendly picture.  We paused for a brief minute and then looked at each other and said "Yes, let's watch it!"  

The movie Happy is a 2011 feature documentary film directed, written and co-produced by Roko Belic. Roko is an American film director, producer, cinematographer and actor. He had a directorial debut with the movie Genghis Blues (1999). That movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature.  The title Happy pretty much sums up what the movie is about. The movie literally takes you into the lives and countries of about 14 different people. 

Why you ask am I blogging about this? Because it touches exactly what we do with our organization. It was amazing to see it, hear it, and watch how humanitarian volunteering can create happiness. Happiness is not just about volunteering, it's about several different aspects of life, and this documentary has tied up in a neat little bow for your viewing pleasure. The director Roko Belic was originally inspired to create this film after producer/director Tom Shadyac showed him an article in the New York Times entitled "A New Measure of Well Being From a Happy Little Kingdom".  According to this article, the United States is ranked the 23rd happiest country in the world. 

So, what makes a person happy? It was amazing to see and learn that a rickshaw driver in Kolkatta was happy running in the blistering heat, monsoon weather and living in a plastic shack. His happiest moments were coming home and seeing his son waiting for him and his son yelling out "Papa Papa!" Not only was he happy about his job, but he truly enjoyed his house, and his neighbors, they were a large family, caring for each other.  
The movie did break it down into research and statistical data of what and where happiness comes from - basically the happiness is about 50% genetic, our circumstances, such as our job, income, status, money and how healthy we are only makes up about 10%. Here's the interesting part--- 40% of happiness is based on intentional the things we do to increase our level of happiness- this is where we have the most control over our OWN happiness!

To drill down further here some of the things you can do to improve your happiness :-)

1. Increase your physical activity - any kind of physical activity, change it up too, just don't go to the gym every day! 
2. Connections - family, friends, community - fascinating fact, a person who makes $150,000 a year isn't necessarily happier than someone who makes $40,000 a year. Interestingly, people who focus on making money or status are often more depressed and anxious. 
3. Appreciate all that you have - a great suggestion was to "Write down 5 things you are grateful for and do this every Sunday". Your happiness levels are bound to improve.
4. Compassion and Service to others - I love this!  People who focus and meditate on compassion have a higher level of happiness. The Dali Lama said "the true aim of cultivation of compassion is to develop the courage to think of others and do something for them". 

I loved this documentary, it touched something in me that I hope to keep my focus on this year. I loved it so much, I watched it twice! I hope you take the opportunity to watch it too. 

Compassion and happiness,