Did you know only 33% of Americansare actually happy? You didn’t read it in a fiction book or see it in a movie. It’s a real number.
Is there a way that we can hardwire our brain for more happiness?
There are several reasons explaining this surprising percentage:
1. Health and wellbeing
Most of the time, we follow a script unconsciously. We somehow step down from the director’s seat and let somebody else tell us how to act the scene. We become a passive actor rather than being the creator of our life. It takes time, effort and work to create a higher standard of life in the long run. We sometimes fall into a very submissive role until something happens that makes us question our role in the movie.
Usually, something negative happens in one of these categories. Maybe an illness or getting laid off whips us right out. Sometimes it’s the only way that we will take back our seat in the director’s chair.
Can we avoid the pain and struggle of undesirable events? Absolutely. Before anything unfortunate happens, we can take an active role in our life by delving within. In some sense, this may sound unsettling to you.
Planning is not the way to happiness. Life isn’t about setting goals and mapping out a road map to get there. It’s about WASTING time. We don’t dream enough. We don’t even set time aside to try to dream. Life is full dreams and they come true.
The magnificence of any major figure in our history from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela did not come about from planning. They both had dreams to endure and a steadfast belief to accomplish their goals. In other words, they spent their lifetimes dreaming. They dreamed of a society where their kids would be “judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.” -M.L.K. Jr.
Dreaming has a lot of benefits. It actually gets us moving.
Walt Disney coined his dreaming as imagineering. It’s at the heart of all that he’s created. There is even a book about it called “Walt Disney Imagineering : A Behind the Dreams Look at Making MoreMagic Real”.
Why don’t we all dream more like these great figures?
From the American point of view, saving time and money is part of the US habit. People are always obsessed with efficiency and goal reaching. That’s why many Americans say, “time is money.”
On the contrary, many European countries encourage students to experience social life abroad before making life decisions. Europeans encourage the gap year, where recent college graduates travel for a year before identifying the course of work they want to dedicate their life to.
How can we compare Europeans and Americans in their free time and dreaming ?
Europeans could be much happier than Americans in some ways. Look at the chart below and you will find the US at #14, while many Nordic countries are in the top 10. Many factors could contribute to happiness, but culture underlines many reasons. In 2017, the US dropped to #18. Embracing the gap year and wasting time is something American culture can adapt.
Where do we start with dream-building?
I have taken the activity on more seriously in recent days and started this exercise. It has helped me dream a little more, and my hope is that it will guide you, too.
I’m working on a dream building exercise and thought I would share the 4 questions that have been helpful to me.
1. What would you love in the area of health & well-being?
2. What would you love in the area of relationships?
3. What would you love in the area of your vocation?
4. What would you do if you had all the time & money freedom?
The idea is to dream big, and not think about the limits and the hows right now. That will come later.
Hope it empowers you like it has for me.
Exit the highway and create your own freedom. How can we be free if we do not have free time to dream?
– Time Health “Here’s How Happy Americans are Right Now.”