In my last blog post I wrote about Bronnie Ware’s essay on people’s regrets at the end of their life. Number 5 was I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I did some additional research on happiness in America. I found a Harris Interactive poll from 2011 shows that 33% of Americans are very happy and 50% are somewhat happy  There were pieces of the research that were no surprise. People with a college education along with people that made over 100K a year were happier. What was more interesting is that women were happier than men. African Americans and Latinos were both happier than white Americans. And people over the age of 50 were happier than younger people.
So the research shows that privilege can increase happiness but it doesn’t always. Ms. Ware’s experience was that at the end of their life people believe that they themselves were ultimately responsible for their own happiness. While I believe the socio-economic factors play into happiness, it is hard to be happy when your basic needs aren’t being met; I also believe that how we react to situations is a large factor in our own happiness.
We have all met people that always seem to be a victim. We have also all met the person that no matter what happens seems to be able to find happiness. While temperament and past experiences play into our reactions some of it is also each person’s choice on how they want to live their lives. This is not referring to people who are clinically depressed but to everyday people. We all get upset sometimes but whether we wallow in it or bounce back from it is ultimately up to us. What choice are you making to allow yourself to be happy?
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