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“Are you Happy Now?”

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“Are You Happy Now? The New Science of Happiness and Wellbeing,” Stanford University convened a panel of psychologists, neuroscientists and business experts to discuss what makes people happy. Their message: Pursuing meaning in one’s life is the key to establishing sustained happiness.

I stumbled upon the “Stanford Roundtable 2013″ discussion on happiness last month on PBS completely by accident, and it really stuck to me!  The academic panelists discuss the definitions of happiness and meaning in our lives, why Americans seem to be more unhappy these days, and strategies we can employ to live more fulfilling and happy lives.  Katie Couric moderates the discussion, who is probably the perfect choice, given her naturally sunny disposition and bright questioning abilities.  She leads the conversation through the roles social media and technology play on our happiness, and how we can parent more effectively by helping our children discover meaning in their lives.  Being positive, grateful, honest and generous seem easy enough, but the panelists explain through data, science and psychology why these tools are so powerful.

The discussion broaches topics that are universal to each of us as we quest happiness, and delivered for a broad audience… not too academic for non-Stanford scholars.  After seeing it twice, I still feel I could chew more meaning out of the thick, juicy dialogue that has me examining, and redirecting, my thoughts and how I spend my time.  These are the greatly distilled ideas of the conversation, gleaned to spike your curiosity.

Relationships: Deep, meaningful relationships create a support system and let you know that your actions are meaningful.

Optimism: Having a positive outlook sets you up for success, as it can be a self-fulfilling prophesy when you set good intentions.

Generosity: It feels good to give, and research shows that people who are “givers” report being happier.

Sleep: The restorative properties of sleep on the mind and body are crucial for the physiology of happiness.

Authenticity: Being kind, generous and helpful, and being honest when you need these from others.

Meaning: Appreciating life, personal growth, and contributing to something greater than self.

The summary of the discussion hits the major points, but watching the full hour will help realign your expectations and priorities, and hopefully you can realize just how happy your life is… now.

“Happiness is when what you think, say and do are in harmony,” Mahatma Gandhi

Take a peek into my world of Eating, Gardening, Making and Mothering, authentically and with meaning. Thanks for visiting!
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