If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!

Happy People

If you’re over 50—or if you’re currently enrolled in kindergarten—you’ll  know the title is from a song. Although whether we’re really happy or not may not be a simple thing to know, we all clap our hands anyway.

But how do we know if we’re happy, technically speaking? Well that’s a matter for experts to examine, including Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and bestselling author on the subject of living long, healthy & happy. I’ve read Buettner’s articles and many others about happiness—took a whole college course in psychology focusing on what makes happiness tick—and I’ve come up with my personal best list.

Top 7 ways you know if you’re happy:

  1. You laugh a lot. Like every day. Multiple times a day. Sounds simple, right? But really think about this one before you answer it for yourself. How often do you laugh? (Also, how often do you cry?)
  2. You like going to work every day. Especially if you’re like me and you don’t have to go anywhere! It’s no surprise that a long commute can be a big negative in people’s lives according to Buettner. It’s also no surprise that liking your job can make you happy.

    But did you know that you don’t even have to like your job to be happy  if you like the people you work with? 

    In fact, according to Buetner and others, liking your fellow employees and having friends at work is more important than making more money. I can personally attest to the truth of this!

  3. You have a great social network and get together with friends/family often. Everyone agrees about how important the people in your life are to your happiness, right? Maybe it’s hard to put this into practice in  every day life, but those who do are happiest.
  4. You are healthy. While it’s not something we think about, according to statistics, it is harder to be happy when you’re unhealthy. So don’t take this one for granted.
  5. You make a decent living. No need for riches. But just in case, I did buy a Powerball ticket when the jackpot went to $625 million yesterday. It would be a kick to play Santa Claus with all that money. Which brings me to the next tell for happiness.
  6. You focus on others with acts of kindness, helpfulness, care, donating and/or volunteering. Or maybe you’re there for someone with a shoulder to cry on in a tragedy. Of course, you probably already know how these things can make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
  7. Life Balance. You have the right amount of work, socializing and sleep—and all those other personal care things to keep you healthy, like staying active. This is no news for anyone who spends too much time at work, or too much time sitting around. Or not enough time sleeping!

Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?

I’m going to work on getting more sleep!

Tell me what you’re going to do to improve your happiness.


6 Secrets to a Good Long Life for Baby Boomers

Old man WorkingAs baby boomers reach that stage of life where we’re slipping off the plateau of middle-age, the quest to extend the good life and live long has become popular (understatement). It’s become necessary. For me, if I want to see my (not yet existing) grandchildren grow up, I’d better live to a hundred!

So it’s no surprise that researchers like Dan Buettner of Blue Zone fame have captured the imagination of mainstream Americans (at least those of us of a certain age). Buettner found, researched and documented areas in the world, dubbed Blue Zones, where an extraordinary percentage of people lived to be 100. I’ve adapted some secrets he found that are practiced by the people on the island of Ikaria, Greece. They live long and well an reach the age of 90 at more than twice the rate of Americans.

Naturally we can’t all move to a remote island and duplicate the Ikarian lifestyle exactly with all their secrets to living long, but I’ve adapted the list of secrets to include those things we can all do if we choose. You will be heartened to know that although having good genes is an important factor, your genes only account for 20% in the quest for longevity. There are a lot more factors, but I’ll share my top six that we can start with:

6 Secrets to Living a Good Long Life:

  1. Eat a variety of Greens – think salad every day and herbal tea—lots of anti-oxidant old farmerrich foods!
  2. Lead an active lifestyle – it’s not about going to the gym. It’s about moving around all day. This is tough for those of us who work on a keyboard all day–but not impossible. It wouldn’t hurt to get a pedometer or Fitbit to see how active you really are and then ramp it up!
  3. Toss your watch – slow down the pace of your life and eliminate the strict schedule and that constant sense of urgency (okay—this one may be tough for some of us!)
  4. Take Daily Naps! (I see people cheering in the audience!)
  5. Become part of your Community – embed yourself deeply in a community of like minded and/or nearby people—in your church, your workplace, your neighborhood, your club, your special interest group (book clubs are good!)
  6. Diet rich in Beans, vegetables and olive oil – and short on meats

We can do this!