Happiness – Are you truly happy?

“If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and energy?” 

Dr. Robert Waldinger spoke to an audience at TedxBeaconStreet in Brookline, Massachusetts in 2015 and asked this question in his opening line. His Ted talk

“What makes a good Life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” garnered over 41 million views on youtube. It’s really good if you can carve out 12:38. It’s worth the time. 

As an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest, Dr. Waldinger is the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development at Harvard Medical School. He is also a Professor of Psychiatry and has been overseeing one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. 

He started the Lifespan Research Foundation where they take lessons from the research to develop new programs that help people lead healthier, happier lives filled with greater meaning and purpose. 

Most of us just walk through life either sleepwalking or are in a perpetual state of habitual frequency. When you think about it, most of us are taught to work hard and play hard but what about the moments in between? 

One of my favorite authors and meditation teachers is Jack Kornfield who was trained as a Buddhist monk. He has this to say about presence. I believe that being present in my life leads to cultivating happiness. When I’m present, I can find the most beautiful treasures in what I am doing and who I am with in that moment. 

“The present moment is the doorway to true calm. It is the only place you can love or awaken – the eternal present. You cannot know the future. But here and now you can create a life of dignity and compassion, a day at a time. You can plant beautiful seeds and learn to tend them with love and courage amidst the unfolding mystery.” – Jack Kornfield  

I was recently talking with some people at the office and we were discussing the happiness index and the rating of different countries. Everyone assumed that the United States was rated up at the top due to all of the freedoms we have here compared to other countries. 

I decided to do a little research and discovered the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. It turns out that the US ranked last on the list. That’s right. Last. I was stunned. We were the lowest scoring at 122nd place, ranking low on both “wellbeing” and “ecological footprint”. Costa Rica was first! In fact, Costa Rica ranked first place for a fourth time because of their commitment to health, education, and environmental protection. And, according to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica has more efficient economy than the US. 

Have you ever stopped in your tracks to truly think about what makes you feel happy? Do the people you spend your time with make you feel good about yourself? Are you spending time during your days doing what fulfills you and has meaning to you? 

Here are some resources if you would like to UP your happiness quotient: 

Lifespan Research Foundation 

Robert Waldinger website 

Jack Kornfield website 

Lisa Schneiderman is a UO member who helps people raise awareness for causes and positive messages that uplift humanity to a higher state of being.


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