Archives for September 2008

Short people got…what?!?

“Short people got…no reason.  Short people got…no reason.  Short people got…no reason to live.”

Remember that old Randy Newman song?  Good thing I don’t always pay attention to the lyrics.  And I think this diminutive giant will also ignore the finding of a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index study.

The folks at Gallup have come up with data showing that below average height men are angrier, more irritable and more stressed than average.  On the other hand, they found that taller guys feel more happiness and enjoyment in their lives.

Well they didn’t survey me!

Here is a little something the folks at Gallup have to say about height and money:

“Alternatively, each additional inch of height has the same effect on reported life satisfaction as a four percent increase in family income.”

Since we know that money can’t buy happiness for most people, although it does alleviate frustrations and stress for those who are well-below the poverty line, does this mean that a really short person who gains an inch (high heels, anyone?) gets happier, but a taller person would not benefit from growing?

Probably.  But Gallup doesn’t say.  (Why don’t they ask the really interesting questions?)

What Gallup does say is that taller people make more money than short people  (NEWSFLASH: High ROI from high heels!), so could that explain why they are happier?

“People with more education have higher income and higher status jobs, and they earn more money. Money, in turn, is a powerful predictor of life satisfaction.”

Gee, Gallup.  Now my education and income aren’t good enough for you either?

Ladies, the news is a little less grim for you, perhaps because you are not expected to be as tall as I am, so at least you have an excuse.  But taller women still get all the good stuff, education, status, income, just with slightly less of a complex if you aren’t named America’s richest man this year.

Read into the report what you want, but I’m not paying attention.  I can make my own happiness.  And you can too!

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Happiness books versus real books

Lloyd Garver of the Norwich Bulletin is obviously not a big fan of happiness books, but at least he refers to mine as… “Some of these popular happy books include, ‘Climb your Stairway to Heaven: The 9 Habits of Maximum Happiness’“.

The problem with Mr. Garver is probably not so much his grumpiness, but his poor sense of direction.  See what else he says, “The reason you can’t find the kind of book you’re looking for is that all the self-help books about how to be happy fill up the shelves. Ironically, this makes some of us quite unhappy.”

Fortunately for us and for the sake of clarity, he does specify what kind of book you’re looking for.  A real book.  Hey, those are his words, not mine.

If books about happiness and self-help are not what he is looking for, why is he looking in the self-help section?  I have to assume he is simply lost, because obviously he won’t find any real books there.  Either that, or he is a very grumpy man with a great sense of theatrics (not to mention irony).  And nothing makes a grumpy person grumpier than a happy person saying to him, “Smile!”  (Yes, grumpy people really, really hate happy photographers!)

If the bookstores would kindly provide visitors with maps when they enter the store, people who don’t want to be happy can avoid accidentally finding themselves surrounded by all those threatening smiley faces.  And they can get on with the business of finding “real books”, which apparently bookstores don’t seem to stock anymore.

That oughta solve the problem.

Hmm…I wonder what he would think of a happiness blog.  Would you call this a “real” blog?

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Happiness is reading

Yes, it’s official.  People with strong literacy skills are happier than those who struggle with reading.  But I didn’t have to tell you that, right?

A study by the National Literacy Trust shows that men and women alike are less likely to marry, less likely to own a home, more likely to live still with their parents and less likely to feel satisfied with life if they can’t read.

Of course, you always have to be careful, because statistics can say pretty much whatever you want.  Lower literacy means a lower paying job in most cases, which might in turn explain the findings.  Or lower levels of happiness in certain people might lead then to read less and learn less.  Cause and effect are not always easy to establish.

That being said, literacy facilitates so much that a focus on increasing a person’s literacy should help them in many facets of their lives, most likely also in their happiness (being able to read is very empowering), and having access to more information when one needs it reduces happiness-zapping frustration.

And if literacy in one language is empowering, what about literacy in several?  Yes, learn some more languages, and you’ll be surprised at the doors it opens up for you.

For those interested in reading the report in its entirety:
http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/Research/literacy_changes_lives.html

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Happiness in the L.A. Times

Today’s Los Angeles Times has a feature on happiness, my favorite topic.  The feature helps debunk a lot of myths, mostly that things and circumstances make us happy, sad, angry or whatever.  Here is the paragraph that most people should read:

Lyubomirsky and her colleagues analyzed studies on identical twins and other research and came to the conclusion that happiness is 50% genetic, 40% intentional and 10% circumstantial. “Half of your predisposition toward happiness you can’t change,” she says. “It’s in your genes. Your circumstances — where you live, your health, your work, your marriage — can be tough to change. But most people are surprised that circumstances don’t account for as much of their happiness as they think.”

Just for the record, there really is not an accurate way to measure happiness, because it is such a subjective issue.  However, a 50-50 divide between genetics and environment is generally considered a good rough estimate by most happiness researchers.  Depending on the effort you make or do not make, I am sure that number is very elastic, but let’s play with that number for now.  🙂

The L.A. Times feature continues on other pages, too.  For instance, there is an excellent list of handy tips for “cultivating happiness” .

Happy reading.

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