What makes you happy?

I’d like to end off this month with a blog post on a slightly different topic.   Health is comprised not only of the absence of physical pain – which is something I work on every day – but also the mental well-being that you carry with you.   I have done considerable research lately into the field of positive psychology.  It is a new and exciting field of science that helps us learn what makes us happy.  In light of the recent widespread flooding southern Alberta, it’s interesting to take a look at what is most important in our lives.  Tens of thousands of people have suddenly lost a lot of “stuff” that they enjoyed only a few days ago.

Certainly we already know that “stuff” doesn’t truly make us happy but that truth is hard fought against the plethora of media messages which speak to the contrary.   I found it interesting that the current slogan for the electronic gadget store, The Source is “I want that”.  Can you think of a more direct command to satisfy your desire for the latest and greatest?  This slogan appeals to the greed and selfishness in us all, but can be a trap into a downward spiral of misery when we seek only to please ourselves.

On the other hand I see the overwhelming response to calls for volunteers in Calgary to help out with the flood relief efforts.  Thousands of people are willing to forgo their own comfort to help out a stranger.  My faith in humanity is restored!  I believe that those who are involved in that volunteer clean-up work will experience happiness in a genuine and basic way as they unselfishly help their neighbours.

There are many things we can do to improve our levels of happiness, and taking a step outside of ourselves for a while – to set aside our own petty problems and help someone else – really helps to put things in perspective.  Working and serving others is good for the soul, good for your health and a sure way to create happiness.

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