Happiness: A Key or a Principle

keyHe’s no locksmith, but Michael Porter thinks he has discovered an important key—the key to happiness. Porter, a Harvard economist, has been researching social process and how to measure it.

Through his research, Porter has found the key to a person’s happiness is the opportunity to change and better one’s life:  Porter’s research suggests this “is a crucial but elusive ingredient to a smoothly functioning society—or what, at the individual level, one might call happiness (Quartz).”

Another researcher, Dr. Stephen Post, has studied the different components of happiness for several years.  He believes the key to genuine happiness is found in living the Golden Rule.

When you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, there’s a good chance that you’re a person who volunteers to help those in need. The willingness to help others can enhance your sense of well-being.

A study found that 41% of people who volunteer an average of 100 hours a year report a greater sense of well-being, saying that volunteering

  • 68%: “has made me feel physically healthier
  • 92%: “enriches my sense of purpose in life
  • 73%: “lowers my stress levels,”
  • 96%: “makes people happier,”
  • 77%: “improves emotional health,”
  • 78% also reported that volunteering helps with recovery “from loss and disappointment”

Typically, people who give of themselves to others have less trouble sleeping,  and they experience less anxiety, less helplessness & hopelessness.  They also report better friendships and social networks, and sense of control over chronic conditions than people who are more self-centered.

In his, It’s Good To Be Good, research, Post says:  ….as one achieves a certain shift from selfishness to concern for others, benefits accrue.   His research suggests that a person may feel good when he gives a financial gift to an individual or a cause; however, the benefits of helping others are most pronounced in direct person-to-person “hands on” activities.

The key research by Porter and Post simply validates the principle posited by Jesus over a thousand years ago:  Treat others the same way you want them to treat, and you both will be blessed.

When we embrace the words of Jesus and begin to live the Golden Rule, a satisfying life is within our reach.  According to Post, one way to elevate happiness is to reach out in helping behaviors and contribute to the lives of others. That happiness in turn elevates giving, which in turn elevates happiness. The two fuel each other in a circular fashion – a classic feedback loop.

The words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer leave us with a thought worth thinking: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve

The Power of a Good Book

readTwo of my childhood friends were Dick and Jane and their dog Spot.  From the moment I met them, I’ve had a love for reading.  Even when school recessed for the Summer, I rode my bicycle to the library two or three times a week to check out books.

An article in Quartz has identified a love for reading as the common trait that links the world’s most successful people.   According to the article, “Reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process, increase empathy, boost creativity, and even just unwind from a long day. But books can also change the way we think and live.”

Because he had experienced the transformational power of God’s Word, Paul emphasized its role in the life of the believer:

  • He instructed Timothy to, “give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching (I Timothy 4:13).”
  • He reminded the church at Rome that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”

Perhaps the one verse in the Bible that best defines its awesome power is Hebrews 4:12: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” ~The Message

I encourage you to consider your reading habits, and to use Psalm 119:14 as a prayer to guide you: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

A Lesson From The Swan: Stick Your Neck Out

swanI’ll have to admit that I’m more than just a little intrigued by drones and the cameras offered by GoPro.  I’ll admit something else: After watching the jerky footage and less than fluid movies they produce, I almost succumb to motion sickness.

Researchers at Stanford University think they’ve discovered a solution that will stabilize the cameras used in this frontier technology.  Surprisingly, the answer may be found in the smooth and graceful flight of the elegant swan.

In an article at Quartz, Mike Murphy has reported that, “A swan’s neck acts like a car’s suspension, compressing and expanding as the bird’s body bobs up and down with the flaps of its wings, and ensuring the head stays still.”

When the 20 vertebrae and more than 200 muscles on each side of the swan’s neck move in a fluid and coordinated motion, the bird’s head doesn’t bob up and down.  It remains steady, which leads to aerodynamic efficiency and enhanced and focused vision.

If you do a little research in the book of Proverbs, you’ll find how important your neck is to you:

  • In Proverbs 1:8-10, you are encouraged to wear the wisdom of your parents as “a badge of honor and maturity, and as fine jewelry around your neck.”
  • In Proverbs 3:3, Solomon said you should, “Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck; meditate on them so they are written upon your heart.
  • In Proverbs 3:22, Solomon encourages you to, “never lose sight of God’s wisdom and knowledge: make decisions out of true wisdom, guard your good sense, and they will be life to your soul and fine jewelry around your neck.”

Life is full of bumps and bruises and it has its ups and downs, but you might experience less turbulence if you stick your neck out for God.