Since 80% of Americans struggle with finding happiness in their lives, I never feel alone when I have a down day.
I recently listened to a Ted Talk by Dr. Robert Waldinger who is the current director to the Harvard Study of Adult Development . The project is the longest of its kind, an eighty -year ongoing research project, which is studying the lives of two generations of people in hopes of discovering ……
After 80 years of research, they proved the prescription to A Good Life is quite simple.
And yet we as Americans find this a hard pill to swallow. Research revealed that being happy and experiencing a good life has become an almost unreachable goal for us. Why are 20% of us reporting we feel lonely and a whopping 80% of us are saying we’re dissatisfied with our jobs and our life?
The reason is we want a quick fix and relationships are complex.
But Americans define success in materialistic terms. We worship those who are rich and famous. Our youth aspire to live the life of the jet set, to live in a mansion overlooking the beach, and to be world renown – All of this encompasses the American Dream.
But with 80% of us experiencing discontentment, a new movement is trending -- The Minimalist Movement, which focuses on living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions.
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.”
I have talked about this phenomenon during my writing seminar, What Makes A Good Story? Our brain’s only purpose is to keep us alive, thus it is always anticipating what MIGHT happen. I refer to the cave man whose brain searched behind every passible tree, rock or bush in anticipation of danger. The novelist’s challenge is to feed that tendency, keep the “what’s going to happen next?” tension going in order to keep the reader … and the brain…interested and engaged.
Of course, tension and conflict are great for a bestselling book, but in real life, worry and fear, along with tension and conflict guarantee a rocky, steep and cumbersome path to unhappiness, stress, loneliness and bad health.
Usually when I am down it is because I doubt who I am and what I am doing. Compared to American standards I am not wealthy, although I do live comfortably. I have no degree, so I ask myself, what do I really know? Just how good of an author am I without a degree? And I am not a spring chicken and there is no rooster in sight. Now you are depressed about my life, too. Right?
So, here is what I do.
5. I Choose a positive attitude.
Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning wrote: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged then to change ourselves.”
I came across a story about a boy trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle of the world. It was an intricate puzzle with many pieces and his father was amazed the child assembled it so quickly. “How did you do that?” The father asked.
“It was easy,” the boy said. There was a picture of a man on the other side. I put together the man and then the world was fixed.”
an autobiographical novel