Happiness

I was doing some web site maintenance when I found this post from 9 years ago ( June 2006 ). It was about then the new and novel field of scientific research into happiness had started to be publicized.

I heard a piece on the radio while driving and was stunned by what I heard. Some of the poorest, most depraved people on the planet are among the happiest people and many of the things that contribute to happiness also seemed to overlap with what I read elsewhere about longevity.

Nine years later, there is now a documentary about happiness research. The trailer is above.

Among many other interesting facts in the documentary is that money does buy happiness, but only up to about 80K per year in US money. After that the amount of happiness returned per extra dollar goes way down with a lower middle class person often being happier than a billionaire.

Bottom line, watch the video, read the old post, and look up some of the many articles on this amazing science. You should do all of those things because the things science has actually measured as creating happiness for people are within the reach of most people regardless of their resources and has nothing to do with McMansions, big screen TVs, iPhones or SUVs.


Sometime last year while I was driving to work I was listening to the news segment on one of the local rock stations. There was a report about a large study done by an international organization on the nature of happiness. To my lasting regret I never memorized the name of that group nor the study. I searched on google, but came up with nothing.

What struck me the most was the finding that the happiest people in the world turned out to be some of the poorest people in the world. They lived in squalor in such places like Mexico or India. The greatest concentrations of depression were found in the most developed countries of the world.

The study listed these factors as being common among the happiest people in the world:

  1. Belonging to a community
  2. Having a sense of purpose
  3. Feeling needed.
  4. Health.
  5. Rewarding relationships with family and friends.

After reading the October 2005 issue of the National Geographic magazine I was amazed again. That issue was devoted to longevity and looked at three areas of the world where the inhabitants enjoyed some of the best longevity in the world.

  1. Okinawa
  2. Sardinia ( a remote mountain village in Italy )
  3. Loma Linda, California

You read #3 correctly, Loma Linda California. A smoggy suburb of Los Angelas. Also the home of a large community of Seventh Day Adventists. The oldest members of that community ( still active and healthy ) credited their longevity to their vegetarian diets, straight edge lifestyle, staying socially engaged and their faith.

There were no surprises in any of the communities examined in regards to nutrition or exercise. All of the communities ate very little if any animals, ate large amounts of fresh produce, and were regularly active.

The people interviewed in these communities placed importance on those things, but they also emphasized various psychological factors and lifestyle choices I have read over the years as being associated with people who live to very old ages:

  1. They are happy
  2. They put family first
  3. They stay socially active and socially engaged.
  4. They have a sense of purpose

That list looks familiar doesn’t it?

It would seem that things that make us happy also make us live longer. Jogging everyday and living off raw broccoli may not guarantee a long life if you live life alone and with a cranky attitude.

Conspicuously absent from these lists are things like bigger SUVs, over priced suburban homes, expensive college degress, a fancy position in a big company, dvd players, and cell phones.

Who would of thought?

In the world where I live and very possibly where you live also, it is very hard to make it through life without some of those things. Yet, maybe we should remind ourselves of these lists and redirect our resources when we can to different things.

Maybe in getting through the days we lost sight of where we want to be going through the years.

Updated Site, Fixed Broken Links

Picture of a broken chain

Whew!

It didn’t exist when I put this site up about 8 years ago, but there is now a plugin for the WordPress blog software that automatically detects broken links, missing pictures and missing videos.

After all of those years I had about 169 broken things to fix.

Done!

It was enjoyable. I ended up looking at blog posts I have long forgotten about. I got see comments from people in the past who passed on through and I even gained some inspiration from reading posts I made about past interests I’ve drifted away from.

I found one post I made after experiencing the death of two friends ( cancer ) I made YEARS ago. I wasn’t impacted nearly as hard back then as I was by the recent deaths ( also cancer ) this past year, including a friend of mine who had commented on that post back then. Will Ross, you will be missed, but missed with happy memories.

It was also nice reading comments from a “coffe klatch” that used to hang out here when I started the blog. I met those people in real life as well as the Internet. Nice times, nice memories.

Banned Books Week 2015

This year read a banned book week falls on:
Sunday 2015 September 27 – Saturday 2015 October 03

Every year for the past 33 years the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week: The Freedom To Read

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

The American Library Association maintains a list of The Top 100 Banned Novels Of The 20th Century for your reading pleasure.

There is even a web site and a domain dedicated to Banned Books Week called BannedBooksWeek.org

Lastly here is a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books Of 2014:

Please read or talk about a book from one of these lists during Banned Books Week 2013.

All freedom and all progress is ultimately rooted in the free flow of ideas.