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How to Live Happy

I just read an interview with Bruno S. Frey, a Swiss professor of economy and happiness researcher in the Migros consumer magazine. The essence: Important factors for happiness are the relations with family and friends, but also a job giving enough autonomy and recognition of one’s work by the superiors. To be happy is the result of a good life. And a good life consists in doing what seems to be meaningful for oneself.

Research has shown that this is the case when people do voluntary work and give money for good causes. However, running after happiness is of no use. If you try to do it, it slips away. A materialistic attitude makes you unhappy, idealists and optimists are generally happier people.

These findings are very much in tune with the wisdom teachings, saying that good living is a result of acts of good will. They give you satisfaction and at the same time you learn to become less selfish. You might like to read the Good Will in Action on the Value of Service (PDF) or the post on The Future of Volunteer Work.

Children in India

2 Responses to “How to Live Happy”

  1. Petra Says:

    Thanks for this post! I didn’t think there was actually any research out there on this interesting topic. What I find intriquing is the conclusions that materialism makes unhappy, while idealism and optimism account for a happy existence. The reason why I find it interesting is because I am currently living in the most materialistic of all countries, the U.S.. Yet, I also find Americans to be quite idealistic and, at the very least, optimistic. What an interesting mix…

    Ironically, happiness is something that Americans are given as a basic human right, according to the U.S. Constitution. The paradox that comes into play here is – because of the use of the noun “pursuit” – that the Constitution grants the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The linguistic implication is that happiness is something that can be chased after, something outside of ourselves, something we may pursue as long as we lives (thanks to the constitution 😉 – and may never find. This is a subtle way of manipulating people’s thinking and influencing a culture’s philosophy and value system. No wonder the inner world is the last place so many people think of looking in their attempts to “find” happiness!

  2. Blog Owner Says:

    Thank you Petra for your reply. I had to think of the American “pursuit of happiness” when writing the post. I think many people are on the “run for happiness”, besides generally being on the run. (I just heard some burn-out-stories in my job, resulting partly, as I see it from the outside, from wrong values in their life-orientation). And I got today an e-mail from a theosophical friend from Houston TX, sending the following lines of Jiddu Krishnamurti, which are are a good contribution to this topic of happiness:


    If we shun distinguishing or categorizing our fellow humans by race, caste, creed, sect or color;
    If we make efforts to listen, appreciate and study each other’s culture, religion, tradition, philosophy and science without imposition;
    If we together attempt to investigate unexplained laws of Nature and discover our latent powers;
    Would not that advance peace, happiness, harmony and unity.

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