Happiness and longevity expert, Dan Buettner, believes we have control over our happiness and the rest is genetics.
So to maximise this variable, we need to shape our environment by addressing the key external influences on happiness levels: food, shelter, education (ideally tertiary), satisfying work, committed relationship and giving back.
And believe it or not, the biggest variable is where we live!
Take Denmark for example, where of residents rate their happiness levels as high due to 35 hour work weeks, 6 weeks annual holidays, free health, education and aged care, along with a lack of status so they can choose jobs they love in Denmark’s thriving creative industries such as architecture, niche technology, furniture and design.
Compare this to the US where only 35% rate their happiness levels as high due to obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression. (Australia is currently 10th on the world happiness index).
But for many of us, packing up and moving across the globe isn’t viable so what can we do to increase our current happiness levels? Buettner advocates:
1. Spending face to face time with 3-5 good friends with whom we can have meaningful conversations (the happiest people have 7 hours daily contact with people they like);
2. Having a best friend at work. So if we don’t have one, we need to get out and find one (invite a co-worker out for a coffee, walk or drink);
3. Developing financial security for peace of mind. We need to skip the discretionary spending in favour of our mortgages down or building our superannuation.
4. Living our purpose – the sweet spot where our values, what we like doing, what we’re good at and what we can give back to the world intersect.
All of these building blocks to happiness take time and commitment but small, incremental steps daily will improve the quality of our lives.
Love to you all, Justine