Over the past three weeks I have been immersed into a different lifestyle, the life of a new mommy. I've been experiencing life as the mother of a newborn, which is going by quickly (Dominic will be 1 month on Friday!) but is extremely time consuming. The fact is I spend more time nursing my little baby than doing almost anything else. It is a huge change of pace. I'm used to spending my free moments on "projects" --planning, reading, etc. It has been hard to read when I feel like I'm about to fall asleep most of the time, so surprisingly, I've ended up watching quite a few movies and documentaries in the past week. I enjoy watching movies, but I wouldn't say that it's one of my top go-to activities. Well, that was before...
Anyway, one of the documentaries that I ended up watching yesterday, was a fascinating exploration of what makes people happy.
The documentary, Happy, told stories of individuals who were happy in spite of their circumstances and shared some of the leading research on happiness. I enjoyed the documentary so much, that I've spent most of today reading more about some of the research mentioned in the documentary.
Everyone wants to be happy and one of the things that stood out to me in this documentary was that you can take actual steps, actions, towards becoming more happy. One of the characteristics of happy people is that they usually tend to have activities which allow them to experience "flow". Mihály Csíkszentmihályi wrote about this concept of "flow" which as Wikipedia describes "is the metal state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity." People who engage in activities which allow them to experience this sense of "flow" (running, playing a musical instrument, etc. etc.) tend to be happier people.
Something else that I thought was really interesting in the documentary was is discussion of the values that happy people hold. In the documentary it pointed out that truly happy people are motivated intrinsically by 1. Personal growth --trying to be who they really are, 2. Relationships --having close, connected relationships with family and friends 3. A desire to help --having a community feeling, wanting to make the world a better place. These goals or values are almost the direct opposites of the ones that generally motivate the most unhappy people which are 1. Money, 2. Image, and 3. Status. This is really interesting, because people tend to really get things mixed up when they are looking to be happier.
I think this documentary was that much more interesting since I had just watched another documentary called Craigslist Joe, about a guy who had spent a month trying to just live off of making contacts and connections on Craiglist. One of the biggest take aways from that movie was how important relationships are and that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to help someone in need --two important factors in happiness.
There is a lot more to say about the documentary, but mostly I just wanted to share some of these thoughts since this blog is one way to be connected* to people I care about.