When I was 9 years old my parents took me to meet a man who interviewed me and asked me a lot of questions. I don’t recall if he was an analyst, teacher, or psychiatrist but he asked me a number of questions as part of his assessment of me and one of the questions was, “If you could have anything in the world what would it be?” I remember quickly thinking about a bicycle that I wanted, I thought if I had a $100 I could buy anything in the world, and as I mulled all the options over in my mind, I finally concluded that what I wanted more than anything else was to be happy!
Of course we all want to be happy! We all know people who outwardly show that they are happy and we know others who are less demonstrative in showing happiness. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal; it’s a by-product.” The big question is- how do you create the by-product of happiness?
Please take this fun quiz, by Colleen Oakley that tests your knowledge about happiness.
1) Cheerful people generally:
a) Do only activities they enjoy
b) Look for little ways to boost their mood during the day
c) Don’t give happiness much thought
Answer: c) The pursuit of happiness can actually backfire, say experts at the University of Denver. People who place a high value on happiness have, on average, 17 more symptoms of depression than those who don’t.
2) Research shows that vacation goers feel happiest:
a) A month before they take off for their destination
b) In the middle of their vacation
c) Right after they get back
Answer: a) Sure a week off is nice, but the elation you get from it is mostly the anticipation, say Dutch researchers. They found that planning a vacation can improve your mood for up to two months before the actual trip. Unfortunately the moment you get home you’re no more or less content than someone who hadn’t gone away.
3) True or False? How happy you are is determined mostly by your genes.
Answer: False. According to research, happiness is about 50 percent genetic 10 percent influenced by life circumstances and 40 percent influenced by how you think and act every day.
4) To get the most enjoyment out of your work life you should:
a) Make friends with your coworkers
b) Be your own boss
c) Ask for a raise
d) Telecommute/ work from home
Answer: (a). A Gallup-Heathway survey found that the biggest determinant of job satisfaction is having a best friend at the office, says Dan Buettner, author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. He suggests getting to know your colleagues outside of work by organizing a happy hour or playing on our College wide golf event on August 27.
5) If you’re sad, which of the following is most likely to cheer you up?
a) Watching reruns of your favorite sitcom
b) Reading a novel
c) Tuning in to the news
Answer: (b). People who read often are happier than those who watch more TV, according to the researchers at the University of Maryland—even if the plot of their paperback is depressing.
6) You have a little free time. Which activity will bring you the most pleasure?
a) Working in the yard
b) Tackling home improvements
c) Catching up on DVR’d TV shows
d) Hitting the mall
Answer: (a) In a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of subjects got a boost in energy and had their outlook brightened by spending time outdoors around trees, grass, and living creatures.
7) True or false? Optimists are happier than pessimists.
Answer: False. Just because you see the glass as half empty doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. In fact, it turns out that expecting the worst can actually make you less prone to depression, particularly during difficult events, such as an illness, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. The reason: Lowered expectations means less disappointment in life.
8) Which genre of music is known as an instant mood booster?
d) Top 40
e) All of the above
Answer: (e). Many studies have found that listening to music can lift your spirits, and any genre will do the trick as long as it’s one you enjoy. “For some people it’s Bach; for others it’s heavy metal,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.
9) Taking _____ every day can help battle depression.
b) Fish oil
c) A multivitamin
Answer: (b). Studies have shown that a daily fish oil supplement can be as effective as prescription drugs in treating depression. “Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which increase your brain’s ability to receive mood boosting signals from “feel-good” hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine,” says Teresa Aubele, coauthor of Train Your Brain to Get Happy.
10) Which piece of happiness advice from a Disney movie is actually backed by scientific evidence?
a) “Look for the bare necessities.”—The Jungle Book
b) “Just say Hakuna Matata (no worries)!”—The Lion King
c) “What do you do when things go wrong? Oh! You sing a song.”—Snow White
d) “Think happy thoughts.”—Peter Pan
Answer: (d). Just imagining yourself laughing can reduce sadness, according to research from Bowling Green State University. “We scanned subjects’ brains and found that the areas that indicate happiness lit up whether the subjects were actually laughing or just thinking about it,” says author Nakia Gordon.
I’m convinced that experiencing joy and having happiness in our lives is what our Heavenly Father wants for each of us. As we strive to do what is right we will find peace in our hearts knowing we are doing those things our Father expects of us.
I am reminded of a verse from a popular Jamaican song -“Don’t worry……be happy!” Sometimes easier said than done! But really when all is said and done… Don’t worry…be happy!