Countries in East Asia have an interesting outlook on happiness.
In America, it’s common to pursue happiness.
In fact, when you look at many studies on happiness in America you’ll find that many people put it at the top of their list of goals. Even success is often defined by happiness.
But in East Asia, happiness is viewed a little different.
In the US, happiness is more of an individual pursuit.
In East Asia, happiness is more about social harmony.
Defining True Happiness
The basic definition of happy includes words like feeling pleasure, contentment, fortune and convenience.
The interesting thing about true happiness, though, is that it could come in many forms.
You might project happiness with others, but not feel happy internally. Or you could feel completely happy with how your life is going and it doesn’t matter how others feel about it.
While happiness might mean different things to different people, it seems that general feelings of inner joy are consistent.
But with that in mind, how does happiness affect our lives?
We’re Happy Most Of The Time
This will make you feel good.
Researchers looked at all kinds of evidence from various countries and all kinds of things and found that people are usually at least in a state of mild positivity.
That’s important to know because generally when others are happy we’re happy. Knowing that others are usually in a good mood will allow you to approach more people with confidence knowing that they’re usually going to be positive about the interaction.
Older people tend to get more joy from the simple things in life like spending time with family or walking in the park.
Life is kind of weird.
If you watch a child they are generally happy for the simplest of reasons. They see a butterfly in the yard. They walk for the first time. They see you make a weird face and laugh.
Older people are kind of like those kids. They smile at the simple things.
Maybe we’re born with the correct outlook on life and happiness. Then we lose it. And only later to we gain the wisdom to have the proper outlook once again.
Time > Money
We all know it to be true, but we don’t always act accordingly.
We think that more money will lead to more time.
But if true happiness is the goal then perhaps we should put more emphasis on time.
Surveys reveal that people want to have more time. It’s more powerful than the pull of money.
For example, we’re more likely to opt for a shorter commute than for a higher salary. But we’re also more likely to opt for more time that allows us to give to others than to opt for more salary.
That’s an important realization for ourselves and our own lives, but also for business leaders.
You don’t necessarily need to offer the most money. Perhaps figuring out ways to offer more time or time spent on important things is the most appealing.
Happiness Affects Your Entire Body
This is a really interesting study.
All emotions affect your body.
You’ve probably felt anger in your head and chest. Or disgust in the pit of your stomach.
But happiness is very powerful.
The entire body activates when you’re happy. All the way from your head to your toes. That’s pretty cool and a good indication of why people pursue happiness.
Happiness and Genetics
Modern health care would have us believe that our genetics are very important to our health.
But more studies are now coming out about genetic expression. It seems that we have the ability to change our genes to a large extent.
It turns out that happiness plays a role in our genetic expression.
Those that are happier are more likely to be happier. They have more antibody and antiviral genes.
You Are What You Do Every Day
This is one of my favorite mantras for life.
I’ve written about it. I really believe it.
It’s true for work and what you think you are versus what you actually are.
Want to be an author? You have to write.
Want to run a company? You have to quit your regular job.
It turns out that much of happiness is connected to what we do every day.
That makes sense. If you’re always chasing something you’ll never really find it. You’ll always be focused on the next thing instead of finding pleasure and happiness in the things you already have.
That kind of brings us back to the idea of true happiness and what it is.
Satisfaction is something that kept popping up in my thinking and in my research.
The idea of being satisfied with life, the past, the present and the future outlook.
Throughout cultures, happiness seems to stem from finding satisfaction with ourselves and our lives.
Getting back to the East Asian studies on happiness, it’s interesting that social harmony is important. But it’s not as surprising when you think about how satisfied you feel when you help others.
The keys to true happiness seem to be with focusing on the every day things in life along with understanding what makes ourselves happy no matter what others think.
But it’s also about balance with society around us. When society is happy, we tend to be happy.
So true happiness involves focusing on the simple things, like time, as well as what matters most to us and being satisfied with what we’ve done along with what we’ve done for social harmony.