By Marie Sherlock
Are you happy? It’s probably a good thing to ask yourself every once in awhile, especially if you sense that something is missing in your life. And if you live in the U.S., that could well be the case.
Last year the U.S. ranked a lowly 18th among the world’s countries for its citizens’ happiness, according to the United Nation’s World Happiness Report, down four spots from 2017. According to Columbia University professor and report co-editor Jeffrey Sachs, America’s happiness decline is due “in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression.”
Sobering thoughts. We can do better, right?
If you’re ready to take stock of your joie de vivre level, the following questions will help you discover whether or not you’re on The Happiness Track – and motivate you to make the changes necessary for well-being. These inquiries are based on the findings of psychologists David G. Myers and Tim Kasser, both of whom have studied which beliefs and practices lead to contentment – and an overall satisfaction with your life.
Here we go:
# 1. Do you have nonmaterialistic goals – like growing as a person, devoting time to family, a love of nature – rather than dreams of achieving great wealth? Are you satisfied with basic financial security versus striving to be part of the One Percent?
# 2. Do you volunteer on a regular basis? This practice can lead to “Helper’s High” – we’ll dive into that phenomenon in another post.
# 3. Do you smile and laugh frequently? This one always makes me beam from ear to ear! The simple acts of laughing and smiling lead to greater happiness. I’m in!
# 4. Do you have several close, intimate friendships? Note that it’s not necessary to be voted Most Popular or to be an extrovert with a capital E. The quality of your relationships is more important than the quantity.
# 5. Do you have employment or hobbies that you feel are challenging yet not unduly stressful? Do you look forward to each new day?
# 6. Do you have strong ties to your community? Do you know your neighbors and interact with them often?
# 7. Do you enjoy good health? Do you get enough sleep and exercise regularly?
# 8. Do you pause to reflect on all of the good things in life frequently?
# 9. Ae you a spiritual or religious person?
# 10. Do you give priority to those things in your life – people, causes, activities – that are most important to you?
The more answers in the affirmative you have, the greater your chances are of being a contented, happy individual.
If you answered a resound “Yes!” to all 10 questions, you are cruising on The Happiness Track.
If not – and if you answered “no” to number 3 – a simple smile can get you started.