Timely topic. I would like to reference the podcast I just listened to this morning. Dr. Caroline Leaf interview. Podcast 365: Why Happy People are annoying with Actor Josh Peck. Actually, just realized it would be great and interesting for you, Bill to interview Dr. Caroline Leaf!!

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For me, happiness comes from within. Anxiety and stress come from the outside. I recall a Southpark episode (those guys really nail a lot of social issues) where someone had cosmetic surgery. A character said “she changed her outside so she would feel better on the inside.”

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This is very, very interesting, Bill. I work with young people (but, actually, it applies equally well to all my middle-aged peers, too), and this concept feels closely related to much of the mental health strain we are seeing with kids. In so many ways, social media is one very large, never-stopping "you should be as happy as I look on social media" unvirtuous circle. We are bombarded with images of acquaintances having the best time (no pictures of the rental car line; no pictures of picking up after the dog outside in a snowy backyard), and it snowballs into this feeling that I/we aren't as happy as we should be. Kids especially struggle with the perspective necessary to understand that the other kids are just as bored, confused, normal as they are. And it feels a lot like Norway. Everyone's happy. You should be happy, so happy. Why am I not happy?

You've posted other research that capture the formula, right? A few good friends, someone to love who loves you back. A feeling of purpose. None of those formulas involve more stuff or more experiences.

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I Live In New Jersey And Work In New York Soooo If The Day Passes With Less Than A Hundred Dollars In Expenses And No Lane Divers On The Turnpike And Less Than Three Screaming Matches With Myself Or Others I AM Happy…Just Sayin’

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Reading Understandably every morning makes me happy. I hope that doesn't put too much pressure on Bill Murphy Jr.

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The pressure should be to simply “be”. Be yourself. Be at ease. Exist in peace. Our minds somehow twist happiness as requiring us to do more good things to obtain it. So we do more, and become frustrated when good isn't returned to us. As if it should be reciprocal…why not? Queue the stress, inflammation, guilt , resentment. All because you were trying so hard for good. Guess what? You are enough. Beyond enough. Beyond good. You are great just the way you are.

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Bill, I think sometimes when we arrive for something so hard, say wealth (whatever that means to others) or an Olympic medal, or the Presidency, we many times find that after the achievement, there is little sense of accomplishment. Maybe that is the way with “happyness” ( from the Will Smith movie). The hunt is more challenging than the outcome. Maybe more of us are happy than we realize. Maybe we are striving for the wrong outcome!

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Hey Bill, you picked a great topic, my friend.

You can start your own little mini survey. Just ask Al Michaels (of course), Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and even Aaron Sorkin about their happiness quotient(s).

Wouldn’t that make for an interesting column?

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It all depends on your attitude and what you focus your mind and attention on.

Abe Lincoln said,

"Most folks are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Philippians 4:8 explains why that's true.

"8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

If you ignore the bad things and concentrate only on the blessings you receive continually and without awareness, such as vision, hearing, love, digestion, and beauty all around you, there is just no room for bad things. It depends on what you choose to focus on. If you lose one of them you realize how important it was to you.

"7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

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Mar 23, 2022·edited Mar 23, 2022

A quotation from Abraham Lincoln,“A man is usually about as happy as he has made up his mind to be” still holds true. Happiness means different things to different people so it’s hard to believe all the different studies. Is it material wealth? Getting the best car, motorcycle, getting into the best school, taking another trip, or is it just being grateful for what we have and sharing it with others, being a shoulder to cry on or a having an ear that will always listen, just bringing a new dessert to a party or taking a few minutes to pick up a prescription for a neighbor? Chasing “happiness” is a full time job for some people but if I may end with another quotation that is also true:” Happiness is a butterfly, if when pursued, is often just beyond our grasp, but if we would sit down quietly, might alight upon us.”

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There’s happiness as Bliss or joy. I see that as fleeting. But to me happiness is contentment. The Denmark project is really about a nation where people don’t want to stand out from the crowd. Where they trust their government and obey the rules. This would be highly stressful for those in the US. I’ve studied Buddhism, and honestly have been the most content when I meditate every day. I can “roll with the punches” knowing it will all change tomorrow. So actually I lead a comfortable life that is “enough”. It doesn’t mean I don’t get caught up in issues. But when I do, I go back to meditation and “this too shall pass”.

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Mar 23, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I wrote about this exact thing last week -- how we've gotten this idea we're supposed to be happy all the time and that if we're not, we're failing. But sadness and even depression are natural human emotions. Sometimes, you can take a walk or a nap and feel better, and sometimes life is too hard to be cheery about it. You forge on; you don't necessarily have to do it with a smile on your face.

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From Dr. David Eifrig, Health & Wealth Bulletin 12/8/2020:

In Rick Hanson's book, Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, he details the brain's "negativity bias." Essentially, negative memories overshadow positive memories, even if most of your memories are positive.

According to Dr. Hanson, practicing gratitude leads to changes in your brain, which in turn changes how you act and feel. Positive feelings have amazing effects on both adults and children: a stronger immune system, a cardiovascular system that is less reactive to stress, improvement in mood, and increased optimism, resilience, and resourcefulness. Such feelings can even counteract effects of trauma, as well as to support motivation, conviction, and wholeheartedness. Additionally, feeling grateful and good one day encourages you to continue to feel good the next day.

Other emerging research suggests that gratitude and positivity can be contagious from one person to the next. There's some evidence that the bioelectrical magnetic fields of humans and even heartbeats can synchronize from a distance or holding hands. It's a fascinating topic for another day. But the point is, gratitude is powerful, even from a distance.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to a Benedictine monk named Brother David Steindl-Rast. Brother David grew up in Austria and was 12 years old when his country fell under Nazi occupation. His teenage years were spent witnessing horrible atrocities against humanity. He turned to the church in rebellion against the fascist movement.

Brother David describes gratitude as a practice consisting of three steps: stop (set up times to "stop" in your busy life), look (behold the gifts around you as you pause), and then go (take opportunities offered to you). He explains that you can't be expected to be grateful for everything – like war, oppression, or loss – yet you can choose to be grateful in every moment.

Gratitude, he explains, is inextricable from the notion of belonging... and deep down, we all want to belong. It is not happiness that makes us grateful, he says – it is gratefulness that makes us happy. He tells us that opportunity is the gift within the gift of every moment we are given, that opportunity is the key to happiness. And luckily, if we miss an opportunity, we will get another one.

From the Bible, Philippians 4:11-13: Learning to be content in all circumstances is something we can get through faith. Paul wrote this while in prison.

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I was going to comment on your article and happiness, but a number of people have basically said what I was thinking, and probably said it better than I would have. The only thing I would leave you with is and old poster from the '60s or '70s, it's a frog floating on a lily pad under the heading "Relax and float downstream". Stop chasing happiness and it will probably find you, it's part of life, not all of it.

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I have really enjoyed starting my day with a cup of coffee and Understandably. The little nuggets you and your crew offer each morning never fail to provide at least one bit of information I did not possess or one kernel to chew on while I decide where I stand.

I have intended to provide feedback in comment to one of your sections on several occasions. The last two editions have prompted me to follow through with my personal take on happiness.

I no longer view happiness as a goal to be pursued. As your article and research seemed to conclude, those who make it their pursuit most often find it ends badly. Like many of them, I spent a good number of years trying to find something or someone to make me happy. I imagined the answer would be found in what I possessed or what I might accomplish. I thought the source would be external rather than internal.

Then, I became a follower of Christ, a disciple. I fell in love with Jesus and spend quality time with Him and His Word each day. When He came to live in me, I found my delight. Happiness resides within. The scriptures are replete with promises of happiness for those who pursue good things as opposed to pursuing happiness.

I have included a few examples of where true happiness abides. It comes from family, noble work, generosity, knowing God and the wisdom and understanding that come from allowing God to teach you from His Word.

Thank you again for allowing your audience to peek into your life and thought processes and motivations. I enjoy the journey.

Grace and Peace,

Jim Davis

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. Psalms 127:3-5

When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Psalms 128:2-3

Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! Psalms 144:15

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. Proverbs 3:13-14

he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. Proverbs 14:21

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. Romans 14:22

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Greg C., I’m with you on Understandably making me happy. I look forward to reading it every morning. Thank you, Bill Murphy, Jr.

Also, I can’t help but think if we would try to live and think glass half full instead of glass half empty, and learn to get enjoyment from the small moments in life, we would be focused on the actual happiness of the day instead of how to get happiness from the day.

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