I watched a documentary today titled Happy by Roko Belic. One of the most important points it made is that according to research, 50 percent of what determines whether we are happy or not is our genetic make-up. How we are wired. How we are born.
Then a tiny 10 percent that determines our happiness is our circumstances ... you know ... how much money we have, how fancy our cars/homes/clothes are, how fabulous our licensing agreement is, how famous and successful we are ... all of that accounts for only 10 percent of what causes us to be happy. Isn't that interesting?
There are so many times when we convince ourselves that the only way we will be happy is if we can amass more money, more materials, more professional success, and more status. And with that mentality, there's this chronic discontent that sets in. You've met people like that, right? Nothing makes them happy.
So what about the 40 percent? What's that all about? Well, that's really the percent related to the choices we make ... the intent, the choice, the will to be happy.
There were a few important points that the documentary made, about how that 40 percent gets affected in terms of how we enhance happiness. One of the main points that I appreciated is that physical activity/exercise is directly related to the way our brains process dopamine, which is directly related to how happy we are. In other words, if you want to feel good and happy, breaking a sweat through physical activity will get you there. It's the ultimate natural drug.
This point made me think about how much I have come to value exercise. Just this weekend, I had one of the best highs by going out with my friend Lisa for my second paddleboarding lesson. It's one of the most thrilling and challenging things I've pushed myself to learn in a long, long time. And let me tell ya, there's a whole lot of dopamine that gets processed through this activity.
As some of you know, a couple of years ago, when I really started getting into exercise, it was prompted not because I wanted to become happier. Rather, it was triggered by the fact that my back started hurting because I had been working pretty much non-stop on the computer as I was launching my new company. I think back to those days and think that I wasn't too far from the other important point that the documentary made by presenting us with a tragically growing phenomenon within Japanese culture called Karoshi. It is literally a condition where workers work so hard that they work themselves to death. So sad.
Whether it's paddleboarding or boxing or any other physical activity, I'm convinced that it's a BIG factor in making that 40 percent work for you. It's what gets the happy juices flowing ... and for me personally, it's the only time of day when I can truly turn off all of my worries, fears, disappointments, and experience the joy of exercise. It's when I feel alive and happy.
The other things that factor into happiness, according to the documentary, is having quality relationships with people, and having opportunities to help those in need.
I want to pursue all of this.
I want to to work hard ... but not work to death.
I want to be physically active and push myself to be a constant learner.
I want to develop and sustain quality relationships.
I want to help those in need.
I want to be someone who doesn't complain about what I don't have, but celebrates what I do have.
I want to be happy.