Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Duty of Happiness

This week's issue of Time magazine is about the science of happiness. A lot is reported that we already know: money can't buy happiness, optimistic people live longer, owning pets lowers blood pressure and contributes to happiness and some babies are just born happy. Although there's some evidence that we seem to be hardwired for our level of happiness, the brain actually can be changed in that regard. Eight Steps for lifting our level of happiness that are based on sound research include:

1. Count your blessings.
2. Practice acts of kindness.
3. Savor life's joys.
4. Thank a mentor.
5. Learn to forgive.
6. Invest time and energy in friends and family.
7. Take care of your body.
8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships.

You will not, I'm sure, be surprised when I say that the practice of meditation can particularly help us with number eight. In fact, were it not for meditation I personally do not know how I would manage to deal with stress and hardships in a healthy way. Interestingly, the mindfulness that comes from regular meditation helps with the other seven on the list as well.

There is much to in the cover story to be commended and I really suggest that everyone find a copy and give it a read. Perhaps my favorite part of all is a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson:

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.

1 comment:

  1. I had never heard this quote before. It brings to mind RLS's epitaph:
    Here he lies where he longed to be;
    Home is the sailor, home from sea,
    And the hunter home from the hill.
    "If it is better for me to die, I pray for the blessing of dying."


New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.