50% of our happiness we are born with, 10% of our happiness is from life occurrences and the last 40% is what we decide it all means. Join author Edie Weinstein as she shares how to “Maximize Your Happiness.”
Written by Edie Weinstein
A year ago on February 11th, I saw a movie that forever changed the way I will look at happiness. It is called Happy: The Movie. It was shown in theaters only one time and then released on DVD. Sitting in a mostly empty theater with my friends Peggy, Ondreah and Ron in Plymouth Meeting (a suburb of Philly: the ‘City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection’), I watched this documentary, enraptured with the concept.
I had long known that happiness is a choice. It opens with the idea that 50% of our happiness is hardwired; it’s what we are born with, 10% are the life occurrences along the way and 40% is what we decide it all means. Produced by Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Patch Adams) and Directed by Roco Belic (Ghengis Blues), it takes the viewer on a worldwide adventure that explores the nature of this state that so many seek and few achieve for very long.
An opening scene is of a rickshaw driver in Calcutta, India who explains that in the midst of the harsh conditions he faces on the job, his sense of happiness lies in knowing that when he returns home each night to his ramshackle dwelling, he is embraced by his family and neighbors who are his true source of wealth. The country with the highest happiness quotient is Denmark, in which co-housing is a factor. Families of choice share space, childcare, cooking, cleaning, and care of elders and it enriches them immeasureably.
Okinawa wins the prize for longevity as many of its dwellers see the ten decade mark. What accounts for that is multi-generational living, being in nature, farming, respect for elders’ wisdom and a healthy veggie based diet. One adorable clip is of toddlers running a race into the waiting arms of grandparents and the caption reads “Future 100 year olds.” In geographical proximity, but worlds away in terms of attitude is Japan where the phenomenon of karoshi which translates to ‘death by overwork’ has become a national crisis. Young people are literally dying due to high stress, low satisfaction lives and jobs.
When Tom Shadyac was a guest on Ellen, he spoke of the vagus nerve and the benefits that come not just from doing good, but observing people doing something kind for others. In their study, Jonathon Height and Jenifer Silvers found that communication and interaction between people increases the release of the hormone oxytocin and increases the effects of the vagus nerve; both appear to enhance happiness. Oxytocin is known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ and gets stimulated when people are in close proximity physically, such as when they hug, experience orgasm or nurse a baby.
So what is the recipe that goes into creating a delicious happiness buffet?
- A sense of community and belonging
- Purpose and passion
- Kindness and making a difference in someone’s life
- Novelty (experiencing something new each day)
- Moving your body (dancing, walking, yoga, sports, fitness activities-I refer to my time at the gym as my ‘playouts’ which is more fun that calling them workouts)
- Humor and being able to laugh in the face of challenges
- An attitude of gratitude (this Philly girl calls it an ‘atty-tood of gratty-tood’)
- A connection with spirituality in whatever form that takes and a practice to go along with it
What would YOU add to the list? What puts a smile on your face?
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
That happiness is an inside job. No one can ultimately give it to me or take it away from me. There were times during which I felt I was at the whim of the choices of others and I gave away my power. These days, I claim my emotional states as my own. I think of myself as ‘the Queen of Reframe’ as I am able to take nearly any situation and find positive meaning in it, asking “What’s right about this?” and not just what’s wrong with it.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I adore my creative spirit and the ways in which the Muse speaks to me 24/7 and I listen and act on her guidance. Although I have never thought of myself as an artist, I have heard from readers that I paint ‘word pictures’ that allow them to step into the scenes about which I write, as if they are actually there.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I have been blessed to have interviewed some of the most amazing movers and shakers on the planet; authors, teachers, producers, leaders, actors, artists and healers and have learned from and absorbed their offerings. I see myself interviewing Ellen and Oprah, being on their shows, traveling and teaching both solo and with a partner.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I am obnoxiously hard on myself at times, running a ‘crazy-busy’ schedule that has my friends shaking their heads and feeling tired just hearing about it. It helps me accomplish alot and keeps my emotions at bay. Not always a pretty combination, but I am a work in progress.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Friends and family of birth and choice, who so tickle my life and make it rich and full and juicy.