Psychologists have studied depression for decades--diagnosing, measuring, and treating it--but it hasn't been until recently that they've started to study happiness. Their findings are fascinating.
The first thing that I found interesting is the fact that only 10% of your happiness is determined by your life events or situation. At the same time, 40% is determined by your decisions. That means that it's four times more important that you make good decision than that good things happen to you. The remaining 50% is determined by your genetics.
It won't surprise you that the decisions that bring you lasting happiness don't involve earning more money, grooming your image, or improving your social status. Those things do give you measurable happiness, but it lasts a very short time. Lasting happiness only comes from things that give you a sense of purpose or mastery.
The movie shows several activities that have been shown to increase happiness. They include meditation, interaction with family or close friends, exercise, acts of compassion, keeping a gratitude journal, and devotion to a higher purpose. These are all simple activities that anyone can do. Also, they are almost all activities that are promoted by organized religion. In other words, religions have known for eons what psychologists are just now discovering.
What I took away from the movie is that I need to treat exercise and keeping a journal more seriously. I need to also encourage my kids to do these activities.