The Happiness Inquiry

A teacher's quest to cultivate happy habits in her students

5: Choice

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Inspiration for the grant proposal that brought me to Denmark began with a Guardian article (since taken down) called “Secrets of the World’s Happiest Cities.” Using a few international capitals as examples, the article revealed to me that a sense of well being amongst urban citizens has become a point of real concern for those in “people” fields: political leaders and decision-makers,  economists, educationalists, psychologists, sociologists, etc. From there, I quickly found that there was a very rich and involved conversation taking place in academia and beyond about just what it takes to be happy. When you think “happy”, imagine words like content, satisfied, and fulfilled, not be confused with the fleeting emotion that we all experience for short bursts of time. 🙂

One piece of information I’m eager to share? Our life circumstances, such as our age, income range, where we live, etc., accounts for only 10% of what makes us happy. The greatest factor is, you guessed it, our genetics. BUT, that leaves 40%, which is our intentional behaviors. This tidbit I learned from the film Happy, which I finally watched the night before we flew in here. Here’s a copy of the graphic from the film:

I invite you to join me as I delve deeper into the concept of happiness. I’ve posted below some links that I think should prove to be informative and interesting. Please comment and let me know what you think! Kids especially! 😉

Links to Learn About Happiness:

The World Happiness Report 2013: this is VERY long, but the first few pages alone give you a sense of what folks are studying out there. Cool stuff!

This 20 minute TED talk on the shift in the field of Psychology from treating misery to cultivating happiness. The first few minutes are a bit dry, but it gets really interesting, I promise!

The Guardian: Cities: This was linked to the original article I read about happiness. This one focuses on trends in various cities, and has some grim aspects, but it’s nonetheless interesting to investigate.


Author: henrykat

I am a middle school special education teacher in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to receive a Fund for Teachers grant that allows me to spend a month in Denmark, considered to be the happiest place on earth. I hope to use my experience to inspire my students to make choices that will increase their personal sense of well being.

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