Happiness is a Choice. It is not something that happens to you. It’s about the disciplines you embrace.
-From GNP to GNH, the Bhutan experience.
-How Do You Claim Your Happiness?
-The 6 Positive Disciplines
Imagine a place where they value what truly matters. Where they sift the means from the end. A place where they place you on a higher pedestal if you are happier, not richer. There is no such place and there never will be. Simply, it is too hard to measure a man’s worth through happiness than money.
However, the small kingdom of Bhutan is trying to do something different. The government is measuring the country’s progress by happiness instead of output. Although they are amongst the poorest countries, it is reported that more than 90% of their population are happy.
Considering that they have only 750,000 people, and the difficulty of measuring something as dynamic and vulnerable as emotion, the effort has not gained a lot of focus.
Plus, the rest of the world are still die hard believers in money. To get the means to happiness, you have to pay. Mostly. However, we must laud Bhutan for getting its people to focus what other life aspects will make them joyful, besides the most addictive opiate, money.
From GNP to GNH, the Bhutan experience.
The wise fourth king of the kingdom of Bhutan decided that he would not measure the progress of his country by Gross National Product. Instead, he would focus on the bottom-line of the bottom-line.
So it is. Gross National Happiness would replace Gross National Product. As the national indicator of progress.
If you are a Bhutanese. He wants to know if you are happy enough not if you are rich enough. Simply said, he does not believe that money equals happiness. Proportionately.
Although ‘enough’ is always a moving target.
In the summary of the GNH index, they have two numerical results. The percentage of Bhutanese who are happy and a smaller percentage of those who are “yet to be happy.” This is an emphatic statement of positive expectation. “Yet to be happy.” Instead of “unhappy.”
The Bhutan government is saying, we are going to make you guys happy, all the 100%, sooner or later!
Bhutan’s 2015 GHN report suggests they are moving in the right direction. Only 8.8 % of the population were yet to be happy. The rest were in some degree of happiness. 35% were extensively happy! 8.4% of Bhutanese were deemed to be in the 77% to 100% category of happiness. The happy bell curve.
There is a growing movement across the world to measure happiness nowadays. There is even a suggestion that the United States may be moving towards measuring gross happiness of her people.
How do You Claim Your Happiness?
So, if you are yet to be happy, how do you claim happiness? Surely, you are not born to be sad. The foundation of happiness is being positive about things. It is hard to imagine that you can be negative and yet happy. Try to look for positives.
Obviously, you can’t be happy with a tragedy. You need to grieve. Just do not forget to move on.
Happiness is a choice. Hard work is needed to achieve that positive state. And, to sustain it.
To increase our chances at happiness, what are the 6 positive disciplines we need to embrace?
1.Keep aiming higher. Long term greed is good! In the UN report on the world’s happiest nations, most of the happiest countries are comparatively well to do countries. Like Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and UAE.
China is ranked 93 although it is a hugely wealthy nation. I suspect that the distribution of wealth might be also hugely imbalanced.
It is understandable. The poorer countries in Africa ranked the lowest. Countries such as Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain plunge in ranking as their economies tanked.
I think long term greed is good. Setting an audacious long term goal to keep us challenged and focused. Being focused on a goal keeps us in a positively engaged mood.
We should not be unrealistic in wanting to reach the big goal overnight. Any goal which we can achieve the day after you set it, is not going to be a challenging goal to inspire you, keep you focused and fill you with passion.
The thrill is the journey towards the desired outcome. The trick to enjoying our journey; recognize yourself for each small, positive step forward.
View each setback as a short delay. Benefit from the lessons learned.
The Bhutan survey shows that after a certain level of financial well-being, greed will become less effective as a motivator to happiness. It was found by researchers that $75,001 onwards, an increase in annual income will not effectively increase the level of your happiness.
2.Work to get healthy. And, stay healthy. Listen to your doctor’s advice. Eat healthy. Exercise. Go to outdoors. From the 9 domains they measure in Bhutan for their GNH, health is viewed as the most important. Psychological well-being is also rated highly.
You cannot be a happy sick. Or a sick happy. With sickness, you will lose concentration and cannot perform well. You will lose confidence, lose the ability to make good decisions. This will reduce your feeling of effectiveness. You will think less of your self-worth. A sense of worthlessness will lead to depression. Obviously, you cannot be happy with that.
3.Keep loving. Preserve healthy relationships. With friends, with spouse, with family and with the community. At work.
Practise the positivity ratio in your relationship. Famous psychology professors and researchers, John Gottman and Barbara Fredricksen are proponents of the 5:1 and 3:1 ratio respectively.
What it means; for every negative thing you identify in a person, find 3 to 5 good things about the person. This is a good practice in a personal or business relationship.
Caveat. Don’t overdo the balance. It is said that after 13-1, the practice will result in the negative.
There was some hoo- haa about the accuracy of the equation. I think that, regardless, it is a rational and beneficial practice.
In the Bhutan measurement, the unmarried and the married were the happiest. The divorced and the widowed were the unhappiest.
I guess the happiest singles are those who have a healthy relationships with friends and family. With a healthy family relationship, there is caring and a source of comfort.
The community relationship provides a sense of belonging. Being part of the tribe is fulfills your craving for identity. You are happiest when you know you belong. And, you are happier and healthier when you are actively engaged with your tribe.
4.Get fired up. Having a purpose bigger than yourself is important too. Playing a role in community issues will strengthen your sense of self-worth. This, and with the goals for more will drive you towards a purposeful life. With a purpose bigger than yourself, you are always on fire, championing… Click To Tweet
5.Give and give again. You will always feel good when you are giving. It is not necessarily just money. It can be time and effort. Giving again will raise the sense of self-worth considerably. You cannot deny the goodness of helping the needy. When you give, you realize the goodness in yourself. You will feel good. You will feel happy. Researchers say you will live longer. With less illness. So, give again.
6.Be grateful! Be grateful of your abundance. Enjoy what you have. Be grateful enough to share with others. Be thankful for what you have and to those who gave you. This is gratefulness.
Remember, “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” Do not take what you have, your blessings and well-being for granted.
To be grateful is to be happy. A best practice is to keep a gratitude journal. Find 10 things to be grateful about daily. Write them in the journal. Send thank you notes to those who have served you. To those who have assisted you. To those who accepted you.
Finally, there is this thing about men being happier than women thing. The Bhutan survey shows that men are happier than women. It seems that some surveys in the West also concur with the Bhutanese results. The reasons given in the analyses range from the fact that women place more importance on beauty, have more to do for the family, and are less successful, career-wise. There is even one analysis that drills down to the differences by age:
— 41: Age at which men’s financial satisfaction exceeds women’s financial satisfaction
— 48: Age at which men’s overall happiness exceeds women’s overall happiness
— 64: Age at which men’s satisfaction with family life exceeds women’s satisfaction
It is hard to say that to be happy, you must be a man. It is also hard to say, “don’t be vain if you want to be happy.” I guess you have to figure it out yourself. Make it a challenge to ‘out happy’ the man next to you. Keep the positive outlook. Keep thinking that you are winning.
Happiness is a choice. Improve your odds by embracing these 6 positive disciplines:
- Keep aiming higher. Set a challenging goal. Audacious enough to keep you challenged and focused
- Work to get healthy. And, stay healthy. Eat well and stay fit. Keep yourself energized. Spend time outdoors. Being healthy is fundamental to being happy.
- Keep loving. Maintain a healthy relationship with loved ones and friends. Being actively engaged with your community enhances your self-worth. Keeps you healthy. Happy. And, alive!
- Get fired up. Uncover your bigger than life purpose. It makes you feel like a champion. Your self-worth strengthens when you are engaged. Discovering your ‘why’ lends meaning to your life. Mark Twain observed of the two most important days of your life; when you were born and when you find out why.
- Give and give again. Researchers found that when you give, whether through material of effort, you are actually gaining in more value. Altruism strengthens your well-being. It might even lengthen your life. Simply because you feel happier, when sincerely giving.
- Be grateful. Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get. Practice daily gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. The journey to greatness is built with gratefulness.
These 6 positive disciplines will raise your chances of being a happy person. Feel free to share if you have other thoughts about securing long term happiness. Please share them in the comments box below.