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Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

Are you happy?

I notice in my own life, when people ask me “Are you happy?” I often don’t know what to say. I feel blessed, inspired, humbled, and often confused. I sometimes feel as though I am doing too much, sometimes not enough. I often feel overwhelmed by my shortcomings, and grateful for my loved ones, friends, teachers, and students. Am I grateful? Yes? Happy; I struggle with this question. I’m grateful to be able to struggle with this question.

I’ve enjoyed reading a terrific article in the June Atlantic Magazine, regarding a study that followed the lives of 268 Harvard students from the classes of 1942, ’43, and ’44 for more than 70 years. When asked what he learned from the experience, Dr. George Valliant, who conducted the study for more than 42 years, responded, “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with other people.”

One finding of this study was that a person’s relationships predicted adjustment and happiness better than almost any other variable.

The study found that the major factors for a healthy life include: education, a stable marriage, not abusing alcohol, and regular exercise.

The study also showed that it’s not the events and difficulties that determine happiness, but rather how people respond to these events. Though this may sound obvious or almost a cliche, the study found that it was not enough to be aware of one’s defenses and shortcomings in responding appropriately. “Only with patience and tenderness might a person surrender his barbed armor for a softer shield.”

What’s to learn from this:

Pay attention to your relationships.  Give them the time, attention, and love they deserve.

-  Create a life of regular learning; stretch yourself, learn new things, open your mind.

- Practice patience and tenderness.

So, are you happy?

Read more: Guidance, Inspiration, Self-Help, Spirit

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Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser is CEO of ZBA Associates LLC, a company providing executive coaching, leadership development consulting, and keynote speaking services to businesses and non-profits. He is a developer and instructor of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program. Marc is a Zen teacher with an MBA degree and a former resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. He is the author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less and Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration.

39 comments

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9:44AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

Thank you for this nice article. I heard of another survey the other day: apparently people had to rate their happiness out of 10 every hour, and to write down what they were doing at the time. It seemed that what everyone had in common was that they were happy when they were concentrating, absorbed in something.

10:10AM PDT on Jul 21, 2010

Based on the three tenets listed in the article, YES, I am happy!

11:57PM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

I was very interested in your article. If you ask me am I happy, I would answer: "Yes! Always am!"

12:45AM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

i love who i am and am a deep believer in Christ. he has loved me so much that he gave his owns son to die for me. I am so grateful for everything that he has done in my life.

1:44PM PDT on Jul 15, 2010

Antony P.-Sorry to hear of your loss. I believe that we are "here" for some powerful reason and that reason is to do the best you can to bring up a family and to care for others as best you can while you are here. And when a loved one leaves us, there is also a "powerful" reason: They wait patiently for us.



8:39AM PDT on Jul 15, 2010

Great advice, thanks!

3:18PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

An honest article written in a sensitive and nice way. Thank you Marc.

2:16PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

This is great. I wonder if this is the article he read. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/06/what-makes-us-happy/7439/

2:13PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

Great article. This is a link to an article from June 2009 in the Atlantic. I wonder if it's the one talked about here. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/06/what-makes-us-happy/7439/

8:54AM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

Im very gratefull to my creator, as I'm one of the happiest people I know. I do have the occasional bad day but thankfully , not very often and on those days , I try to reajust my thinking as soon as I discern that Im grumpy. lol I know I don't enjoy it when people "share" there bad moods with me.

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I'm sorry to say that too many people try to 'fix you.'

Great article. Thank you.

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