Heads Up

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Weekly wellbeing links

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.” –Buddha

The patios will soon be open. The magnolia trees will soon bloom. The Toronto Blue Jays home opener is today. These are just a few obvious reasons to be happy because they signal spring in Toronto.

You may think happiness is a frothy topic and that there are far more important areas of wellbeing to explore and develop in our lives, but please stay with me.

Happiness is often defined as subjective well-being or life satisfaction. That’s kind of a big deal.

Happiness isn’t indulging your child (or yourself) with awesome stuff. Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky says that only 10 per cent of our happiness comes from life circumstances (and it’s fleeting). Fifty per cent of our set happiness is genetic. But a whopping 40 per cent is within the control of our thoughts and actions. Here are some other quick happiness facts.

Happiness isn’t in competition with “success.” Quite the contrary. In this article, Christine Carter looks at the value of happiness and concludes that happiness “is the most important thing we can foster in ourselves and our children, both for its own value and for its contributions to other things we value, such as professional and social success. Happiness is a tremendous advantage in a world that values performance and achievement.”

Listen to this 22-minute podcast with Lyubomirsky to hear more research on the myths of happiness. The information she shares might make you feel happy.

If you really want to dig in to the science and practice of a good life, check out the hugely popular Science of Wellbeing course available from Yale University by professor Laurie Santos. Week two goes into the science behind our misconceptions of happiness (lots of money, perfect body and awesome stuff are on the list).

Harvard University’s more than 80-year Grant study concludes that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.”

Physical activity is critical to boosting happiness.

The Dalai Lama places compassion at the root of happiness.

Lyubomirsky’s research indicates we have control over 40 per cent of our happiness with our thoughts and actions. Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden and build theory proves we can grow our happiness. So let’s do this.

Here are just a few happiness practices that may inspire thoughts to increase or sustain your happiness.

The patios will soon be open. Prioritize relationships and go sit on a patio or in an outdoor space with someone you love.

The magnolia trees will soon bloom. Take a mindful walk and notice the colour and new life that’s returning to Toronto. Or try the new fad I mentioned a few weeks ago called “plogging.”

The Blue Jays home opener is today. A family outing to an event will bring feelings of connection to your community and create positive memories at the same time. Kensington Market has pedestrian Sundays, so you could check off a few happiness ideas in one go.

Canada ranks seventh out of the top 10 happiest countries in the world. How happy are you? Check out the Authentic Happiness Inventory.

I’m happy and grateful you took the time to read this article, and wish you a very happy long weekend.

Laurie Fraser, Character Program Director
lfraser@ucc.on.ca