The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness


If you happen to be a life-long student of human behavior, like me, you will want to pick up the Double Summer Issue of Time Magazine (July 8/July 15). Right there on one of the most unattractive magazine covers I’ve ever seen, is the kind of cover story I relish most: The Pursuit of Happiness. Turn off the bad news, pour yourself a cool drink, take a seat on the patio, and read all about it.

Here are a few fun facts to get you started, pulled from the lead article by Alex Aciman and Katy Steinmetz:

  • People who dwell on the past and future are less likely to be happy than people who concentrate on the present.
  • Marriage does contribute to bliss; it’s a better predictor of happiness than having money.
  • A bad job is better than no job: previously out-of-work people are happier even if a new job has poor pay and hours. (Beware of complacency. . .)
  • People who care about other people’s incomes are typically less happy with their lives.
  • Homeowners aren’t any happier than renters. They are more likely to experience stress and pack on extra pounds, perhaps as a result.

In a separate but related article with an ironic title, The States of Happiness, authors Megan Gibson and Kharunya Paramaguru reveal facts about happiness in countries other than our own, some of them shockers:

  • In a 2012 study, in Afghanistan, three times as many people said they were happy as said they were unhappy.
  • Mexicans boast higher-than-average levels of happiness despite enduring a long-running drug war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
  • Debt-laden Ireland faces a gloomy economic future, yet its population is among the cheeriest on the planet, reporting high levels of well-being and contentedness.
  • Singapore has one of the highest per capita GDP’s in the world, a low unemployment rate and an enviable education system, yet is home to the world’s least positive-minded populations.
  • Once the suicide capital of the world, Finland is now a significantly happier place; suicides have drastically decreased, and in 2012, nearly 7 out of 10 Finns said they considered themselves happy.
  • China’s economic boom in recent decades has corresponded with a decline in its citizens’ life satisfaction rate.

I found not only the cover of this issue to be unattractive, but most of the articles very difficult to read because of the convoluted layout and use of tiny pastel text forced into pastel-backed bubbles. (I am not easily deterred.) But still . . . you have to admit, the topic is intriguing, and not irrelevant to your own life. My hope is that it might beg the questions at the heart of our work here at Bell: What is a good life for you? And are you building positive momentum for a good life? What’s working? What’s not? What’s missing? What’s next? These questions of momentum might be more tangible and to the point than the questions about your mood.

Our dear Bonnie Bonetti-Bell was the force behind our Career/Life Coaching services, until her passing in 2019. As a principal of our firm, Bonnie had an innate talent for seeing the best in people. Moreover, she helped others see the best in themselves. Bonnie is fondly remembered and deeply missed.

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