Are you happy?
As I was walking this morning, I was thinking about how fortunate I am to be able to get up and walk each morning. The sunrises are magnificent and on any given day I might see deer, rabbit, a coyote or a beautiful flower that has just popped open. I love the peace and quiet and the opportunity to start the new day appreciative of what I have - my health, my family, great friends, a job I am passionate about and so much more.
My walk is more than exercise, it gives me the chance to frame my day and consider all that I have versus what I don't have.
I recently read a book called Gross National Happiness by Dr. Arthur Brooks. After reviewing a great deal of data on the topic of happiness he found something that really surprised him. The things that actually lead to living a happy life are not the things people typically think of like money, having the perfect body or making great grades in school.
The key to happiness is a life that reflects traditional values and practices like faith, hard work, marriage, charitable giving and freedom.
While Americans have become a lot richer in the past several decades there has not been a meaningful rise in the average level of happiness. In 1972, 30 percent of Americans said they were very happy. By 2004, the percent of Americans who said they were happy remained virtually unchanged even though there had been a 50 percent real increase in average income.
People who give money to charitable organizations are 43 percent more likely than non-givers to be happy.
Brooks bottom line is that without proper values, our jobs and our economy will bring us soulless toil and joyless money. Our education will have little meaning and there will be no reason to fight or make peace to protect our way of life.
"The pursuit of happiness is central to everything we do and our values are what make this pursuit possible," said Dr. Brooks.
Now there's something worth thinking about. What brings you happiness?