Key Point: “Why am I not as happy as everyone tells me I should be?” That’s a self-reflective question I hear people I care about rhetorically ask from time to time. On a scale of one to 10, rate your personal happiness. That’s what about 500,000 people from across the globe were asked to do. The results are presented in the recently released World Happiness Report. This happens annually as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The release preceded UN World Happiness Day, and is the fourth such report by a group called the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (A multidisciplinary team of experts from academia, government, and the private sector). The assessment team ranked 156 countries on their happiness and well-being.
In addition to the survey, a country’s happiness is measured in terms of a number of factors: GDP per capita, life expectancy—including the number of healthy years, social support in times of trouble, trust in the system (freedom from corporate or government corruption), the ability to make one’s own decisions, and overall generosity. The majority of the topmost happiness positions were once again taken up by Scandinavian countries. The U.S. ranked 13th, Canada 6th, and UK 23rd.
At a personal level, the three most important aspects according to researchers are income, social support, and healthy years. Anyone who wants to cultivate a fulfilling life, according to the report, should invest in their education to earn a proper income, live a healthy lifestyle, and strengthen their relationships with friends, family, and their partner. However, the definition of personal “happiness” really involves a very unique definition. Daniel Kahneman, highly regarded as one of the most knowledgeable academics on the matter concludes: “The word happiness does not have a simple meaning and should not be used as if it does.” My conclusion: Yes there are trends and conditions that provide a base for happiness. However, whether you or I are happy is very unique, a personal condition and subject to self-interpretation. No judgment by any one else qualifies. We are the sole determinants.
What we do know is that in much of the western world, depression and stress related diseases are on the rise. Even though Canada ranks as the sixth happiest country in the world, it has a very high rate of suicide compared to the rest of the planet. And the province I reside in, Alberta, has the highest rate in Canada. Mental wellness is something we all need to invest in, so I want to share a great summary of actions (backed by good science) that each of us can apply to our betterment. As a system of connected actions, they will certainly contribute to our well being and perhaps even to our assessment of personal happiness .
- Find someone you can talk to. Someone you really connect with, trust, and feel safe around. I’m a big fan of working with a coach. A coach will help you move forward versus keeping you stuck in your current story.
- It is so important to eat healthy. Avoid sugar and processed food. And take your vitamins.
- Go for a brisk 45-minute walk, 4-5 times/week. According to research it has been known to have more positive effects on the mind and combat depression better than the strongest anti-depressant.
- Do three gratitude’s per day, and record them. Do this for a minimum of 21 days.
- Do something creative; paint, sing, dance, play an instrument, create something.
- Dream; imagine yourself doing something that lights you up.
- Stick to the facts of what’s happening. Don’t start creating a story around the facts. A wondering mind is a dangerous mind. Stay in the moment.
- Find your inner flow. Find activities that put you in the moment and allow you to lose track of time.
- Choose carefully when selecting those you spend time with. Decide to be around people who complete you and inspire you to be better.
- Get proper sleep.
- Plan something to look forward to.
- Volunteer. Give to others.
This is a list from Karen Judge, health and happiness coach and founder of A Happier Mind.
Live Well (even Happy) in The Triangle
One Millennial View: I don’t know many truly unhappy Millennials, but I’d say our career content comes from a sense of comfort, excitement and future security. Are we making enough money to be comfortable? Does our routine still motivate us? Does my current position have room for growth? If I could always answer those questions with confidence, my work happiness will likely sustain.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis