By Gary Kent Boyd -
The American Psychological Association has found, through a recent study that more than half of Americans are living lives with moderate stress. Close to 25% admit to being very severely stressed. A study done on absenteeism at work by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that it is chronic pain and depression that account for 2/3rds of long term absenteeism at work. Stress related causes account for the rest. Add on the stress from unemployment a lot of Americans face each day, deepening debt that for most cannot be avoided, the fear of having their homes foreclosed upon, has become a major health issue for millions of Americans causing heart attacks in the worst case scenarios.
A 2008 report done by Sue Shellenbarger that works for the Wall Street Journal as a journalist states that, “91% of 8-17 year olds said they can tell when their parents are stressed out. Many feel sad, worried and frustrated as a result.” Our own children become rampant carriers of family financial stress with very severe consequences.
First Time in History
Children that live in America are now more likely to have shorter life spans than their elders for the first time in history. Obese kids are even more likely to develop chronic diseases than their peers that do not have the problem. It is estimated that 33% of school age children have the deadly overweight issue. It would seem through careful observation that the distractions of everyday contemporary life is keeping us from living out our lives as we intended, living up to the values we once had and thriving as individuals in a society that has everything.
Sociologist Judith Schor
Judith Schor a sociologist told the Los Angeles Times in an opinion piece, “We work too much, eat too quickly, socialize too little, drive an sit in traffic for too many hours, do not get enough sleep and feel hurried too much of the time.” Is it any wonder then that lives are becoming so dysfunctional and dissatisfying?
Over the last 35 years Americans have increased their income 20%. Our homes have doubled in size, more gadgets and the latest of everything have been enjoyed, but still we are not happier as a nation nor do we seem to grasp what it is that will make up happy.
Benjamin Franklin once stated, “The Constitution only guarantees the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it for yourself.” We, as a nation, have to define what will make up happy then find out our way of achieving it. The pursuit of happiness is a God given right backed up by the Constitution, an inalienable right. Thus we continue on a daily basis to seek out what it is that spurs our inner motor, that ticks our clock, that turns us on to the max, that turns work into play. Very few of us achieve that feeling, that rush of satisfaction that comes with living life to the hilt and truly enjoying it.
What science has Found
A great deal of science is being applied today to actually defining what makes us happy and what happiness is. Here are a few of what the scientists have come up with.
1. The choices you make in life is the determining factor in what satisfies us as a nation. Achieving balances with your partner, balancing work with pleasure, leading a healthy lifestyle and participating in social events are key factors in our roadmap in the pursuit of happiness.
2. Couples that prioritize their family goals are much happier than couples who put career and material wealth first.
3. Long key healthy relationships with your life time mate and friends in general are key to good mental health.
4. Being able to laugh can lower your stress hormones even to the effect of giving you an entirely different outlook and attitude towards life and the pursuit of happiness itself.
5. A study done at New York University in Canada came to the conclusion that helping others on a daily basis raises happiness levels and lowered depression among the ones who participated in it.
6. Going to church services on a regular basis, having close friends in the congregation, developing social skills are key to a happier and more satisfying life according to a University of Wisconsin – Madison study.
Looking at what we just found out it would be advantageous for us to pursue policies, as well as practices, that will stack the deck in favor of your pursuit of happiness and good sound mental health. Helping others obtain their goals is one key that can help you overcome your selfishness and desire to always putting self-first. Put another first in your life and see what it does for your overall happiness and health. It just might be a change for the good.
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