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Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

Erin, Kelly.Cropped

People who gravitate toward the left side of the bed (the side to your left when lying on your back) are happier and more positive than those on the right. Right-side sleepers tend to have a higher earning potential. This was the topic of the WTMX morning radio show today based on a study that was commissioned by the UK hotel chain Premier Inn.

Studies on happiness are intriguing because little matters in life if we aren’t happy. A happy state of mind is the best place to be. We all know people who are a bubbly fountain of joy. And then there are others we test gently with a toe in the water before approaching. Where you fall in this range may be the result of several factors.

Studies show that the greatest personal factor in determining happiness is health. No one really understands this until they are unwell. The stress, limitations, and expense of illness are draining. When young, we take it for granted that we can leap tall buildings with a single bound. Then before we know it we hear our grandparents’ words coming out of our mouths when someone asks how we are. Does anyone really want to hear about the lack of cartilage in our knee?

Other happiness factors pertain to our level of income, marital status, and the number of children we have. Ironically, studies show that wealthy people are only slightly happier than poorer ones and the more children we have the less happy we tend to be, which may be due to the amount of money needed to care for them. Statistics also show that married people are happier than single, although I think I once read that married men are significantly happier than married women.

Some studies also suggest that older people are happier than younger ones. And religion may play a part too. People of faith claim to be happier than those who are not. This is most likely due to the sense of being unconditionally loved and supported by a superior being.

There is a genetic component to happiness as well. Experts believe we have a set-point of happiness. And some people have psychological disabilities, such as depression, that require medical assistance to overcome. But experts also agree that nearly half the capacity for happiness is within our power to change. We can learn how to incorporate more meaning and satisfaction into our lives.

My father used to sing the song, “Don’t worry. Be Happy.” He would say that if you want to be happy, tell yourself you are, and you will be. He said this partly in jest, but there is some truth to that. Sometimes in our pursuit of happiness we simply need to stop and just be happy.

©Mary K. Doyle

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