Happiness around the world

What is life’s greatest emotion? How would you like to be living your life? For many people happiness is at the top of their list. People have agonised over this emotion for many years: what is it and how can I get it? I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Happy”, which focuses on how to find happiness by exploring what it means all across the world. I loved this documentary and found it extremely inspiring so I wanted to share a bit about the story.

The documentary starts by showing a poor family in India where the father is a rickshaw driver. The family only eat rice with salt yet they are still happy. This truly shows happiness is not about having a big house, fancy cars and a big fat bank account. The father said “when I see my children I feel that I am not poor, but I am rich.” It made me realise that appreciating what you have and who you have around you can increase your happiness.

According to a Harvard University study, the most unhappy people in the world come from Japan, which is where I’m from. People in Japan work very long hours and their culture identifies with Karoshi, which translates to ‘work oneself to death’ – I guess that alone was a good reason to move to London! However, the study showed that the happiest people also come from Japan. They are from a small island called Okinawa, renowned for the highest population of centenarians (457) in the world. The centenarians were asked how they can live so long and they answered that the community is very close knit and take care of each other: the community is their family. One lady questioned was 106 years old but she looked 80: she attributes her long and vital life to eating lots of vegetables, drinking sake every night, and going to sleep early.

The story also goes into a school in California where a group of people said they are happy when they are doing what they enjoy and love, so much so that nothing else matters. They call this “flow”. I could carry on writing; however, I highly recommend you to finish the story by watching the documentary for yourselves.

Our beliefs, culture and background are all different, but we are all connected in this world in our search for happiness. Until recently we were able to measure depression but not the opposite. Now, however, there are many psychologists starting to study happiness and the effects it has on us. From the research they’ve done at Harvard University, they said “happiness could make you healthier, kinder, more productive, and even more likely to get promoted”. Who wouldn’t want to be like this?

It is time for you to consider your own happiness and how to increase the level around you so here are some lessons I took from this inspiring documentary:

  1. Appreciate the small things around you. Take time to be grateful for what you have in life and who you have around you.
  2. Spend time connecting with people: take care of each other and build close relationships.
  3. Eat lots of vegetables and go to sleep early!
  4. Find your ‘flow’ – do what you love and enjoy on a regular basis.

I truly believe this is what we need in our lives. This extends to work too – we spend a large proportion of our lives at work so why don’t we increase our happiness by connecting with our colleagues, team members and clients. Create a supportive environment, surrounded by compassionate and kind people and build a close working relationship with them.

Aya Doyle is a Receptionist at Mitie Client Services
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