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it doesn’t take much!

July 14, 2012

It seems to me, listening to friends, neighbours and colleagues in the past few weeks that it doesn’t take much for us to get depressed, or at least it takes little to get us moaning.

From the disappointment over Murrays defeat at Wimbledon to the damp weather. From traffic jams to spending cuts. From political nonsense to the Euro crisis. Almost anything is enough to get us into whinge mode.

So what could be the cure? What would it take to make us happy? Fortunately research has already been done on this. From the tiny land locked nation of Bhutan who set out to measure the Gross National Happiness of its people rather than the Gross National Product that so many other countries use.

The GNH scale is already documented so I will leave you to read about it yourself;  but what is worth mentioning are the five factors that have been identified that enable people to be happy:

1. Life long learning. Which doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school, it is more that attitude that allows us to learn from the stories, experiences and advice of other people.

2. Connectedness to people. In a digital age this is, ironically, one of the most difficult things to achieve. We are all connected online – so we find it hard to connect to our neighbour across the street. However without the social glue at a local level there is little responsibility or care shown to place where we live – or the people we live amongst.

3. Interest in the things around us. Of course it is easy to get focused on whatever it is I (or you) are interested in and shut out the distractions. It is easy just to sit back and be entertained, but if we foster a questioning attitude to life – explore its complexity and wonder at its beauty we will learn, achieve more and end up happier!

4. Generosity. I guess we all know instinctively that it is better to share, we may even know that giving (time, money, things) away can give you an emotional rush of happiness. Well we have seen it on secret millionaire haven’t we! But it is still hard to overcome our innate protectiveness to our things (“hands off – it’s mine”) but unless we do we will struggle to be completely happy.

5. last but not least, be active – it hay not be necessary to be sporty, just a gentle walk, or taking the stairs rather than the lift could do it. We all know that once you stop being active ill health is never too far away.

So there it is: which of these key actions do I (or you) need to work on today to make me less grumpy and less inclined to moan about the rain?

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