Sue Vandergriff: The pursuit of happiness
An article came my way this week that caught my eye with its title: "With Age Comes Happiness." The article is a summary of a study done by the University of Chicago that is one of the most thorough looks at happiness done in America.
It says baby boomers aren’t as content as other generations, African Americans are less happy than whites, and women are happier than men.
Happiness is said to be an overall appreciation of one’s life as a whole. This is from the Institute for Happiness, and it also says the better the economy, the happier we are.
The institute’s theory is that happiness first depends on the quality of society, with societies in rich and democratic countries being happier than those in poor, dictatorial nations. The study conducted by the university says happiness increases with age.
Someone funded these studies only to tell older people what they already know: Older people appreciate things more. They don’t need every new toy that comes along, unlike younger people, and have come to realize that the old sayings are true.
Stop and smell the roses. Not literally, maybe, but more a reminder to slow down and appreciate. Count your blessings is my favorite truism. No matter what is happening in your life, there are blessings. They should be recognized and counted -- doing that makes you happier.
Married people tend to be happier than people who are alone. People who are active are happier, and those who volunteer are also happier, which maybe proves it is better to give than to receive.
We all know people who just can’t be happy no matter what. The kind of people who would gripe if you hung them with a new rope. The kind of people you hate to ask how they’ve been because they’ve never been good.
Others are just happy to be and a joy and a pleasure to spend time with. Personal happiness depends on the individual personality type and their self-esteem level. If you have self-confidence or, in my case, the little-engine-that-could mentality, it really makes you happy to accomplish something that once looked daunting to you.
The University of Chicago says over the 33 years of the study the trend towards happiness increased when the nation flourished economically. The study also cited 1995 as a very good year on the happiness scale.
I remember '95 as a good economic year for retail, no war going on, government spending under control and, yes, people were happier. It was also the year of the Oklahoma City bombing and the farce of the O.J. Simpson trial. Peace seemed to be in the future of the Middle East in 1995.
Personal happiness can be attained, and it would be nice to see a smile on everyone’s face. If it takes changing something in your life, your outlook or your surroundings, do it. You will be the biggest beneficiary, but happiness is contagious, and that’s a good thing to catch.