The Conundrum Even the World Economic Forum Wrestles With

Are we living in the best of times, and the worst of times?

Why so glum?

I was catching up on the day’s news when a quote caught my attention.

Global elites had gathered at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ian Goldin, a professor at Oxford University, had just spoken about globalization’s accomplishments and threats.

Mr. Goldin said, “There’s never been a better time to be alive, and yet we feel so glum.” He continued, “We need to make the choices to ensure that globalization is sustainable, that connectivity is sustainable, that we deal with the intractable problems that are worrying people.”

Why are we so glum, when there’s never been a better time to be alive? Most importantly, how can we change that?

The counter-intuitive truth about happiness

The “intractable problems that are worrying people” may not always stem from what you would expect. Why we’re so glum doesn’t always stem from what you would expect.

Having your basic needs met is an important and intuitive ingredient for happiness. But surprisingly, being smarter, richer, and more accomplished are not.

“Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.” [1]

40% of your happiness is under your control

Not quite half the battle is up to you. The science of happiness has determined that about 40% of your overall happiness is under your control.

“ It’s an oversimplification to say that every single person can control exactly 40% of their happiness, but scientists have determined that your happiness level is a result of a complex interaction of genes, behaviors, and life circumstances.” [2]

Yes, it’s a little difficult to think about your happiness as a percentage in a pie chart. But the takeaway message here is that a big slice of your happiness is up to you.

“While each person has a genetic set point for happiness (like we do for weight), a big chunk of how you feel is under your control, meaning the way you spend your time and the thoughts you allow to linger can really impact your mood and your long-term happiness.” [2]

Test yourself

If you had to choose one of the following options, which would you choose?

  1. I was happy then
  2. I am happy now
  3. I may be happy someday

If you chose # 2, “I am happy now,” you are correct! Now is always the best time to choose to be happy.

If you didn’t choose # 2, I have good news. You can retake this quiz as many times as you need to.

In fact, feel free to bookmark this quiz.

In the future, should you ever find yourself wondering when to choose to be happy, the quiz will be here to remind you.

Make the choice

Go ahead and make the choice. It’s up to you. Now is always the best time to choose to be happy.

Was this post helpful? Please tap ♥ and tweet it.

Connect with Denny on Twitter and LinkedIn.