The Happiness Formula?
Over the past couple of decades a whole new branch of psychology has evolved called positive psychology. Academics around the world have started to study the positive side of human life looking into topics such as optimism, resilience, flow, strengths, emotional intelligence and happiness. The research into happiness, although still in its infancy, suggests that genetics, circumstance and what you do all play a part.We clearly have most control over what we do and how we react to circumstances.
In our last blog we talked about our holiday in Ethiopia. Whilst we were there it struck me how happy the majority of people were despite having few material possessions. We saw people in markets who remained happy while sitting in the sun all day to sell a bag of the local grain – Tef.
We saw groups of children happily walking to school. When we asked them how long they had already walked they told us that they had been walking for an hour and they had another hour to go!
We visited a farmer and his wife who had a simple three room stone house with no running water, no electricity, virtually no furniture and few clothes but who welcomed us without prior arrangement into their home, happily showed us around, answered our questions and offered us sweetcorn that they quickly roasted on the fire! They had a plot of land to grow corn, a few cows, a few goats and a few chickens – that was it, but they were self-sufficient, in good health, parents to 6 children and happy with life.
We may think material possessions will make us happier but from what I saw in Ethiopia that is not the necessarily true. Research agrees and suggests that happiness is related more to having a purpose, having fulfilling relationships and gaining pleasure and achievement in what we do – all things that we can make choices about at home and at work. Equally the research suggests we can increase our happiness by removing any negativity by showing gratitude for what we do have, accepting things as they are and showing compassion to others – again all things that we can make choices about at home and at work. Food for thought?