Grow Up to Be Happy

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infantSummary: Happiness is not just an emotional state, it can be a life goal as well. Grow up to be happy!

- Choosing to be happy may work better than trying to find an ideal career.

This post is a response to a TED talk giving by a thirteen-year-old boy from Nebraska, Logan LaPlante, who makes some very good points in his presentation. One of them is that happiness is not taught in school, and he questions why it is not. (A course on happiness was being taught at Harvard by Tal Ben-Shahar, but he was happier returning to Israel to live with family. The reading list is still online, if you want to peruse the publications that were used.) Most people are not taught what happiness is and how to be happy, at least not in a formal sense.

It appears happiness is left to each individual to explore and experience for her or himself, and this a reasonable expectation. However, there are quite a few new research studies that have come out over the last several decades and still are being published. Much more science-based information is available to us today about happiness, and healthiness, so we might as well use it constructively.

When Tal Ben-Shahar taught his happiness course at Harvard, it was one of the most popular undergraduate courses, and probably for good reasons. Happiness is linked to better health and is likely to increase productivity in workers, because they are more engaged and less stressed. If happiness was taught in public schools and therefore made accessible to a vast number of young people, would it make a significant difference in the health of society?

Logan LaPlante says in his TED talk that adults ask him what he wants to do when the grows up, expecting him to respond with a particular career, like being an astronaut. His answer is to be happy. His mindset is hack schooling, not the computer kind, but for learning. In other words, it is flexible, open, and in his case it is driven by happiness - not by doing what someone else tells him is right.

He also mentions Roger Walsh's therapeutic life changes, which have been identified as  generally significant for happiness:

- Exercise

- Healthy diet

- Nature time

- Good relationships

- Recreation and fun

- Relaxation and stress management

- Meditation

- Religious and spiritual

- Contribution and service (community)

Image Credit: Sabrina from Baronissi, Salerno, Italy, Wiki Commons

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Jake Richardson

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