The happiness non-formula

Lynne McTaggart

Happy New Year, everyone. Please accept my fondest wishes for a happy, healthy, abundant and intentional New Year.
In the UK where I live, everything slows and even shuts down for 10 days over the holiday season. So during our holiday break I had the opportunity to read an entire magazine of the London Sunday Times devoted to the study of happiness and what exactly makes for the good life.
Some of the ideas expressed in one of the articles, written by Joshua Wolf Shenk for the Atlantic, make for a good discussion, during this first week of the new year, about what it means to be happy and whether we can program ourselves — through intention or any other means — to be happy all the time, as many people believe.
Shenk’s article concerns an in-depth look at the Grant study, one of the most complex and fascinating pieces of medical and psychological research unique in modern times.
In the late 1930s, Arlie Bock, director of the health services at Harvard University at the time, backed by department-store magnate named W. T. Grant, conceived of the idea of taking the best and brightest from Harvard and studying them over time to ‘attempt to analyze the forces that have produced normal young men’.
Unlike virtually all medicine of the time, which focused on pathology, Bock wished to study the qualities of wellness, happiness and success: those x-factors that make for a happy life. Bock had big plans; from his data, he promised a blueprint for ‘easing disharmony in the world’.
Impressive study
Bock and his colleagues from an impressive array of disciplines — medicine, anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, physiology, social work — set about selecting 268 young men at Harvard as the most promising, potentially successful and well-adjusted to take part in a longitudinal study. This kind of exercise gets hold of a relatively small sampling of people and tracks their progress over a long period of time.
This is not the only piece of research like this. In 1948, in an attempt to discover the common causes of cardiovascular disease, a group of scientists at Boston University hit upon the idea of tracking its development over time among a large group of participants – in this instance, a substantial percentage of an entire town of Framingham, Massachusetts.
Nevertheless, the Grant study is perhaps the only one of its kind to study the exhaustive biography of all of its sampling (whose survivors are now in their late 80s) in order to determine how exactly the lives of this bright bunch played out.
For 70 years, the group — told they were part of a special elite — were poked and prodded in every conceivable way and every body part measured and compared, from length of ‘lip seam’ to scrotum size. Biological changes with any physical activity were painstakingly observed. Social workers, interviewing their relatives at length, uncovered such private details as when they stopped wetting the beds. Psychiatrists submitted the young men to a battery of Rorschach and other popular psychological tests of the time.
Over many years and successors after Bock finished with it, chiefly psychiatrist George Vaillant, its shepherd since 1967, the Grant study continued to maintain contact with its cohort, monitoring the course of what should have been two hundred plus success stories.
Shakespearean tragedy
In fact, the cases, in many instances, read like Shakespearean tragedy. Although a number of the group achieved extraordinary outward success — the participants included the late President John F. Kennedy, a presidential cabinet member, a newspaper editor, a bestselling author and four who ran for U. S. Senate — by age 50 a third of the men had suffered clinical mental illness. A goodly percentage became alcoholics.
Many of those considered most gifted turned out to have disastrous or even pointless lives. One young man, the son of a wealthy doctor and artistic mother, was singled out as exceptionally blessed: ‘Perhaps more than any other boy who has been in the Grant Study,’ wrote one researcher about him, ‘the following participant exemplifies the qualities of a superior personality: stability, intelligence, good judgment, health, high purpose, and ideals.’
At the age of 31, the young man grew hostile toward his parents and eventually the world. Although the study lost track of him for a time, eventually Vaillant and his colleagues discovered he had lived nomadically, dated a psychotic girlfriend, smoked a good deal of dope and dined out on a rich seam of humorous stories before dying young.
Another young man, considered one of the most ‘bubbling and effervescent’ of the group, followed a batch of odd jobs and married a string of women before finally coming out of the closet and becoming a leader in the gay rights movement. Nevertheless, despite this newfound honesty with himself, he became a heavy drinker and at 64 killed himself by drunkenly falling down his apartment building’s stairs.
Bock was shocked by how his best and brightest were doing. “They were normal when I picked them,’ he remarked when Vaillant caught up with him in the 1960s. ‘It must have been the psychiatrists who screwed them up.’
On the other hand, others who’d started out with difficult early lives rallied as time went on. One young social misfit, given to depression, found his calling as a psychiatrist in mid-life after someone was simply kind to him during one of his bouts in the hospital.
Predictions confounded
All the usual confident predictions about people’s lives are defied by this sampling and also by another study managed by Vaillant, called the Glueck cohort. This study contains the flip side of the Harvard cohort: a group of non-delinquent boys from inner-city Boston, the offspring of poor and largely foreign-born parents, who were also followed for 70 years.
In both groups, rich and poor, Valliant has noted the same themes and he is very careful about generalizing what he has observed. Money and even a good start don’t guarantee happiness or success. Good luck doesn’t guarantee happiness. A particular personality type doesn’t guarantee happiness. What appears to be the x-factor is not how much difficulty you face in your life but your response to that difficulty.
As a psychiatrist, Vaillant is particularly interested in ‘adaptations’, or defense mechanisms – how a human unconsciously responds to stress, whether outright pain, or conflict of any sort or even the unknown.
Although many of his young men began using immature adaptations (such as acting out, passive aggression or projection), as time wore on, the most successful found mature adaptations, such as humor, ways of sublimating aggression (such as sport), working out conflict constructively or altruism. Indeed, among those living longest, as they reached 50, both human and altruism became more common and immature responses more rare.
Illness, nutritional pioneer Dr. Stephen Davies once said, is simply the failure of an organism to adapt to his environment. That environment can be entirely hostile, but we remain healthy if we understand how to navigate through it with grace.
In his article, Shenk calls mature adaptations a ‘real life alchemy’, ‘a way of turning the dross of emotional crises, pain and deprivation into the gold of human connection, accomplishment and creativity’. Vaillant likens it to the grit of sand in an oyster eventually transforming into a pearl.
This idea seems to me to be profound. So much of the time in the personal development field, we suggest that we have the power to make the bad times go away permanently.
What is most important is the understanding that every tough moment is your life’s biggest pearl. That, in my view, is the key to the good life.

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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62 comments on “The happiness non-formula”

  1. Amazing article. It makes complete sense that adapting to life's tribulations make us happier. It's just knowing how to do that the real question.

  2. Thanks for sharing that wealth of knowlege with us. It is interesting that it takes a 70 year study to find out what many ofour elders could probably tell us if we would listen to them.
    We all go through the "tough" times and I agree that what we learn from them and the choices we make as a result make a big difference in our lives.
    May Peace Prevail on Earth.

  3. THe last sentences are truly the key to a good life. But perhaps it does take a certain type of personality thatl finds it easier to just make the best of her / his life. There are people like that. They just shake themselves like a wet dog and then go on in fairly good homour. Or perhaps there was a role model for that .

  4. I have been working for several years with the perspective that judging and labeling life's experiences prevents us from embracing their gifts. In my experience, to call something "bad" is to distance oneself from the potential lesson and/or opportunity contained therein. I actually agree with the concept that you can "eliminate" bad experiences from your life, but not by manipulating the external. Instead, you amend the internal to see experiences as experiences that shape your life, without judgment. Thus, you no longer have good or bad experiences per se. You just have life. My two cents.

  5. "What appears to be the x-factor is not how much difficulty you face in your life but your response to that difficulty. "
    Love that!
    I think that major transformation in our life happens when we take 100% responsibility for it.
    That also includes, like you said, how you respond, or re-act to your environment, circumstances and situations.
    Great article Lynne!
    Peace, love and many blessings.

  6. “What appears to be the x-factor is not how much difficulty you face in your life but your response to that difficulty. ”
    Reminds me of why I meditate. Regular meditation helps you to develop a certain that you do not imagine and react to difficulties. You do not take them so personally. Thus you are not as irritated, frustrated, angry, sad, etc. Your reactions are more likely to be neutral, compassionate or even joyful. Overall you have equanimity. And this leads to much more happiness in my life.

  7. I really enjoyed the article Lynn. It is a simple concept but yet so profound. It is our attitude towards what happens in our lives that determine how we see a situation and how we adapt or don't adapt to it. It all boils down to choice. Everything, and everyone that we have ecountered in our life have contributed to who we are.We are interconnected at the most basic level. What we do for others we do for ourselves and vice versa.
    All the very best to Everyone,

  8. "What appears to be the x-factor is not how much difficulty you face in your life but your response to that difficulty."
    I operate from the paradigm that I am a spiritual being living a human condition. When I meet a human difficulties with a spiritual response difficulties do transform into pearls.
    Ah, life is good, all the time

  9. Shakespeare knew this also - he said:
    "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

  10. I think being unhappy is actually a modern concept. Maybe we were just supposed to “exist”.
    I don’t think any of our distant ancestors were ever unhappy, if there was a change in environment, food supply or weather, they simply moved. If you didn’t move or adapt you died.
    Because we live in a modern society people who don’t move or change environment (jobs) or adapt stay alive and have the opportunity to live in misery, actually if you look at the correlation between job dissatisfaction and heart attacks they do die but it just takes longer. I am sorry if this sounds a bit blunt………..

  11. I can no longer walk. I am full of happiness and now I understand why after reading this article. There is immense love in my heart. All my thoughts are positive. I appreciate the beauty of the earth. I accept what is. You are doing awesome research that continues to affect the lives of many. I always like reading about happiness because people can not understand why I am so happy. Some people think it is false but it is pure. Thank you!

  12. Thanks Lynn. I have quoted other Harvard Longitudinal Studies in regard to goal-setting but wasn't aware of this one. Loved the comment re listening to our elders and Shakespeare from other blog comments.
    Other salient quotes come from Ernest Holmes (founder of Science of Mind/Religious Science which your research on intention supports) - "Let us begin where we are and grow." That quote is on all of my invoices :)!
    Or James Allen and the perennial "As a Man/Woman Thinketh."
    Also got a chuckle out of an interview with Louise Hay on a recent PBS special on happiness. She said she listens for her "inner ding" and doesn't really "believe in science" as it is so new. Louis had a very tough upbringing herself and has done quite well with her 83 years so far!
    It's wonderful we have so many sources of information and a world of access at our fingertips. And now for the daily practical application...

  13. It's funny, but I was at a networking lunch in Bristol today andmy main topic of describing what I do was essentially this one - coinsidence as I hadn't seen the Sunday Times article. As a therapist my arguement was that 2 people can have the same education but what makes one a success and the other one a failure. The answer is how we look at things and how our thinking shapes our responce to situations. I have afriend stuck in a job because he does not like change, is afraid of it. I on the other hand could not do his job or spend the time in it because it would bore me. I need change and thrive on it, I see things like recession as a challenge not as a hindrance. Same problem, just totally different ways of looking at it.

  14. One look at the life my mentally challanged son
    adapts to every single day of his life. Yet going forth with that huge beautiful smile he faces it with and you know how important our response to what life brings us is. Love you Brian!

  15. Having been used as an unsuspecting thyroid guinea pig by Glaxo..thanks to them I discovered a lot about my health over this past 12 months..This article makes so much sense,I think I can get on and accept the past and adapt to the new..I still have an awful lot of living and happiness to experience..THANKS... Lynn

  16. The X-Factor we are talking about has all to do with the resilience to overcome obstacles in life, and the secret engridient will always be the love inside our problem solving attitude.

  17. Yes.
    I recently heard a remark that should become an aphorism for life. I can't remember where or when I heard it, but I think it may have been on TV. Here it is.
    Neat, isn't it!

  18. While I have nothing cogent to add, I wanted to thank you, Lynne, and all of you other folks who added your thoughts to the subject. Especially Kathy's addition resonated with me. But I appreciate each one of you taking the time to add your thoughts. As a result, I have taken a few moments to look inside once again--always a beneficial exercise--and check my own response to life's bumps. I have a way to go, but am definitely making progress. Happy New Year and blessings to all.

  19. I live in constant unrelenting pain. I took up landscape painting after 30 years of being a behavioral scientist. I had started in art and consider myself extremely lucky to have found a total consuming passion at 55. I'm two years from painting well but I wake up each morning thrilled to paint. I am one of the happiest people I know. People are always amazed if they find out I am in pain all the time. [seven surgeries in the last 8 years...almost all life threatening...always hanging over my head]
    This is correct. It is how you take things. Lynne teaches some of the ways I have used for 30+ years to manifest the life I lead and to be grateful for the use of my talent...and frankly, to be grateful for the grit it takes to become proficient at painting. Hardest thing I have ever done.
    I spend my evenings counseling people with health issues some very serious indeed. Spending a few hours a day being helpful sets the stage for 8 hours of painting that simultaneously frustrates, brings overwhelming joy, and takes the pain away.
    I agree with the study except this. I have always tested high on any "pollyanna scale". It is just not in my nature to see other than an overflowing glass. I think the things I do daily...walk, meditate, be creative, help...make it easier but I do think I was lucky genetically to be born tending towards happy.

  20. Wonderful comments by everyone. Mark Twain was also on the right track when he said, "You are just about as happy and you make up your mind to be."

  21. Hi Lynne,
    Yes, this is an age old story, and one which we seem to require to re-learn each generation. It is the basis of"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he"

  22. What appears to be the x-factor is not how much difficulty you face in your life but your response to that difficulty.
    That's great news!

  23. It is the same old story over and over again. "That which doesn't kill me make me stronger". So true. When everything is easy in life, we don't grow. It is only through struggle do we get stronger and achieve greatness. And change involves chaos, and that chaos is stressful, but in the end we emerge stronger and farther ahead than ever before.
    Churchill said it best, "Never, ever give up!"

  24. Me parece muy interesante el articulo nunca habia pensado en la alquimia moderna como podriamos trasformamar nuestra realiadidad. O como lo decis la escoria y el dolor en oro y creatividad. En mi modo de ver las cosas la felicidad es una suma de cosas incluidas todas, la salud, el dinero, el amor, la prosperidad etc todas ellas cohayudan a conformar la realizaciòn final del ser humano. Porque de que sirve el dinero en lugares donde no es necesario,l de que sirve la salud si tenemos profunda soledad, de que sirve el amor si no podemos disfrutar de el con las otras cosas que mencione. nada tiene sentido si todo esto no esta entrelazado formando un solo objetivo que es la realiadad.
    Aprovecho la oportunidad para decirles que estoy comenzando el libro de la Intención publicado en Argentina. Estoy facinado a pesar de no ser un experto en el tema y tener que leer varias veces el consepto para entenderlo me parece que es una visión extraordinaria de las cosas que podemos hacer los seres humanos.
    Gracias y ahi ban mis mejores intenciones.

  25. I think at least some of the critics have missed an important point in the above fascinating article.
    The young men in the study, these 'best and brightest' would, by and large have been the products of privilege thus unaccustomed to adversity and less able to cope when confronted with it. Perhaps early exposure to adversity in one's life has an immunising effect.

  26. Thanks for the synchronicity, Lynn. I was just writing about this this. Unhappiness is not having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have. Thanks for your great blogs.

  27. State of mind is a choice. Once you become concious and realize that your attitude or emotional state of being has nothing to do with what is happening around you. Then you have true freedom to choose whatever you want to make up about how you feel. And if it is all made up then why not make up the best scenero that you can think of!

  28. My late husband, who was 450 lbs in a wheelchair (as a child, he had naso-pharyngeal radiation that destroyed his pituitary), was the happiest person I knew. Everyone who knew him forgot about the weight and the wheelchair as soon as they encountered him because he was so present with them. He could make anyone laugh and never wanted sympathy (he would always say sympathy is between sh**t and syphillis in the dictionary). No matter how much he suffered with this condition, he found joy in each day and helped others find it, too.

  29. I am 73 years old and I have come to the conclusion that you cannot define happiness. I say this because I firmly believe that happines is only experienced in hindsight. When one is truly happy, one is too busy enjoying life, too busy being present, too busy having a whale of a good time to ever stop to analyze. The people I have know who appear to be consistently happy are the ones who live in the moment. I firmly believe this and I try daily to live this life.
    Bless us all,

  30. I'd make an addition to this point :"these ‘best and brightest’ would, by and large, have been the products of privilege, thus unaccustomed to adversity, and less able to cope when confronted with it." . . . Yes, and they also had high expectations for themselves, and even moreso because of these researchers actually also telling them they were 'the best and brightest.' The business world knows that satisfaction results from "under-promising and over-delivering." So these guys had more reason to negatively judge themselves than most. In my view, loving is the key to happiness, and self-love is foundational.
    And my love & gratitude streams forth to our precious Lynne McTaggart and all of you . . .

  31. Food for thought as always. It reminds me of a friend of mine who came from a blue-collar family with 6 siblings. She got her PhD and excelled way beyond what her parents and 99% of her siblings were able to do in life and yet she was always unhappy about something!
    Her mother was one of the sweetest people in the world and a treasure to be around. She was one of the those people who loved her life and although she was not college educated she was smart about life. She exuded such love for life and her family but her PhD daughter seemed to find her embarrassing at times because she was not very sophisticated.
    I found it odd that my friend had this jovial mother and yet she was extremely unhappy at the drop of a hat. She could be a real pain and not so much fun to be around if things did not go her way! She was university professor in environmental science which there are few women. She had 2 great kids and a professor husband as well. But there wasn't a happy bone in this woman's body!
    So, I think the daughter although very bright, along the way (in life) set herself up for high expectations that were not always met and so, she became unhappy. She worked so hard to "get somewhere" and yet, when she got there she would not be happy.
    So, adapting to life and what it throws you seems to be healthier than having huge expectations that when go unfulfilled just make you miserable. That seems to be the smarter choice.
    I think sometimes the smarter you are and perhaps the more educated you are , you may set yourself up with really high expectations for life that do not always come true thereby, creating more situations of unhappiness because you cannot adapt.

  32. It’s the classic ‘nature versus nurture’ question. I know it’s not very scientific, but could some of these people be simply victims of karma from previous lives?
    The concept proposes we might in fact have to face difficulties in this life as a way of learning from mistakes made before. Those who are prepared to learn will make the most of a difficult experience and those who are not will fall prey to it.
    From an intention point of view, I’ve learned the hard way to release my focus on those things which do not serve me and only focus on those things which do.
    I used to spend an inordinate amount of time ‘thinking’ about the challenges in my life and have only recently learned the joy of focusing on the positive experiences.
    We all hit a bump in the road now and then, but do you stop the car, inspect the damage and tell everyone how bad it is again and again? Or do you keep driving...

  33. Great article and great reminder. I have long loved the (profound) idea of the pearl as a symbol for a spiritual approach to life. There will always be irritations, and with a positive attitude, those irritations (some more serious than others, some more challenging than others), can become beautiful jewels in your string of life experiences. The idea of "bad experiences" is relative to a certain degree, but with practice those "bad experiences" produce great gifts and that changes your idea about "bad experiences", which then changes your propensity for drawing those experiences to you. It has much to do with acceptance, which changes the vibration of your thoughts - and on and on.

  34. In her book "Psychic Diaries," Lysa Mateu tells a story about asking an 8-year-old about the meaning of life. He tells her that the goal of life is to be happy. She says, But that's so hard! How do you get happy? He says, "You don't get it. Just BE happy." This was a revelation to me.
    My 90-year-old mother-in-law tells me that she makes a point of not thinking about things that bother her, but that she can't change. She has more vigor and a more active social life than most 60-year-olds I know. In contrast, my own mother was an unhappy woman with low self-esteem, who died at age 72. Which role model is better?
    I myself decided, at the age of 12, that it was best to expect the worst in all situations. That way, I reasoned, I would never be disappointed, and occasionally I'd get a nice surprise. Sure enough, I became adept at seeing the negative possibilities in any situation. I had to *learn* to be positive.
    I started by thanking my right-brain for presenting me with warnings about the dangers in the situations -- and either preparing to avoid or mitigate them, or noting that the probabilities were low. Then, I practiced a very simple trick: when driving down our dirt road, I focus on the spaces between the potholes instead of the potholes themselves. It works: I hit fewer potholes. And this technique generalized; I now tend to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. When the negative images arise, I look at their probabilities; prepare for them when possible; and then counter with images of positive outcomes.
    I also started saying, "Thank you!" whenever positive things happen in my life. It's not addressed to anyone or anything specific -- maybe just to Life itself -- but just expresses gratitude THAT something happened.
    The point is this: although scoffers think that changing attitude is a bunch of pie-in-the-sky, and doubt that one can simply *choose* to be happy, both research and my own experience indicate the opposite. Happiness can be learned. Positive thinking, gratitude, and appreciation for the little things in life make a difference, and they are habits of thinking that you can choose to adopt.

  35. when we look at ourselves as souls who have been on a long journey and have come thru many experiences - we can call on this awareness always as it is available at all times. Happiness (for me) is a sense of always and forever and it gives me serenity even when what-ever is going on in my life demands more attention!!!

  36. Captivating,inspirational........all toward personal growth and living each moment of the day........'I will never pass through this world again'
    To you all over the world, peace, love, understanding and above all, thank you for keeping the doors open for me. Hugs and love

  37. This may be a little deeper than we want to go with this conversation, but I want to offer it. Looking back over 80 years of experience, I realize that simply being fully physically present to the events taking place in my life, with a clear mind, and balanced emotions--no judgment, no inner talk, full feeling--has yielded surprising awarenesses and amazing results right in the midst of, sometimes, what one would call tragedy. I have experienced many times an inflow of a deep and thrilling joy. This seems to be coming from Spirit, and it makes me say, "Face life directly, in quietness and confidence, and wait." Just be really present. The door for transformation seems to open in the midst of events that could otherwise be quite negative with destructive consequences. The situations didn't change--I was changed, by Grace I think, by use of this inner willingness to be nakedly present. I am deeply happy.
    Thank you Lynne for all your gifts,

  38. This is related closely to the concept of Karma. Lessons to learn, and the only way to really learn them is by living them. Challenges come into every life. One runs the gauntlet and finishes the better for the tough experience. If one brings it upon himself, that is in itself a karmic lesson. Like a Special Forces soldier, you have to have made it through the roughest times and places to fully qualify; to be really valuable to the mission. C'est la vie, asi es la vida!

  39. this evening, i sat arm in arm with my 15 year old son and 11 year old daughter watching tv, and i felt the joy overpower my very heart and soul. i was reminded that happiness is right here and right now, not in the elusive illusionary images that, sometimes, plague my sensibilities. through all my struggles, pain and challenges, this one moment with my children made everything, indeed, seem just right and worth the thousand journeys. i choose gratitude and happiness.

  40. To quote Southern rocker Marshall Chapman, "It's never too late to have a childhood". We can be our own parents.
    I learned today about a suicide, first and successful attempt by a guy NOBODY would have thought this was possible from. Wish for everybody's sake he'd read this blog. I know a few years ago he would have gotten it. Why the change now? May you live in interesting times--the old Chinese curse. Be careful what you wish for!

  41. Brilliant article thanks Lynne! All about whether we see the glass half full or half empty. So simple, but yet it is in the simplicity that the power resides.
    With love

  42. How much hapiness casn I draw from the well of Life's experiences? This is the question we ask ourselves, for he nectar is always deep inside the well, to get to it we must descend into its murky waters bravely! Thanks for reminding us of this unalterable truth!

  43. It is unfortunate that we do not teach our children to “think” happy thoughts. Most of everything we learn about how to deal with life’s up’s and down’s is taught to us as children either verbally or by watching elders around us reacting to situations. Usually this meant what the elders told us to do and what they actually did were two different things.
    I am in my forties and attending college for the first time full time. I have changed my life from one of being in the negative 95% of the time to being in the positive 95% of the time just by changing my thoughts from negative to positive good feeling thoughts. I find myself struggling keeping my thoughts positive during each semester. In school we are taught on a daily bases to look at all the bad things before looking at the good things. (Except for math, which I love) You have to study the problems that came before a solution was found to fix it, usually by war or death and decades down the road. Even in Art class, we learn of the destructive lives most famous artist had. The crazier the person, the more money their art is worth. The saner the person, the less money their art is worth.
    How has school changed my life from being positive to negative? I hunger after watching the news everyday; watching war movies; movies with lots of people being killed; I judge “religious” people harshly and I look at the world through fear-based eyes.
    I do not look forward going back to school this spring semester. It has taken me about 4 weeks to clear my head of all the fear thoughts I put in it last semester. But I am going back, because I feel I need that degree in order to prove something to myself and the world. At least that is what I am getting from the world census in order to prove my worth as a human being.
    How do we intend to change the world when we keep our past alive by teaching it to our children? It is required by law in order to get our high school diploma and college degree’s that we learn about our warring, fear based past, so we can build a better tomorrow. It is almost impossible to make a descent living without a degree. This is a “catch 22” situation for peace on earth.
    There is one solution, getting large groups of people together to meditate, regularly, on peace and have them send that peace out into the world. I have seen this work many times changing negative situations to positive situations effortlessly and without anyone owning the problem. Even some of the most educated people know this works, but still nothing is being done about it. This I find as a fascinating human defect to be fixed.

  44. It's a wonderful thing when a scientific study determines all you have seemed to discover yourself. "happiness does not come from the absence of conflict, but from the ability to cope with it." This study hits me on so many levels, I see friends around me striving so hard to be a somebody, neglecting that they already are a somebody... The eagerness to reach a standard totally occupies all of there energy to the point that they miss the magic and love that is all around them. Not that reaching a goal or education is bad for you, but it is unhealthy to be so single minded. After being so absorbed in such a lonely success fueled path, I could see how one could grow numb and irritable because what there trying to gain is an unfulfilling illusion... it's a sad sad story

  45. One thing that struck me immediately is that if these researchers had understood the truth of the journey of the soul (or psychoplasm, as researcher Paul Von Ward,, calls it) through multiple incarnations through time, then they wouldn't have been looking at merely a few pieces of the mosaic, so to speak -- but a much fuller representation. When we are blind to the millennia-long journey of our true (conscious, energy-based) self, not to mention the journeys of others, we are prone to think that being born into a privileged and stable family will make us happy -- and, conversely, that being raised in a disadvantaged or even abusive and chaotic one will make us unhappy, even criminal. Once the truths about "soul contracts" and multiple incarnations, however, are acknowledged (some weak or immature souls are allowed to be born into privilege in order to remove their excuses about the core reasons for their problems; some greatly evolved souls agree to be born into horrific circumstances so they can learn more and, also, help those they will guide from the disincarnate state in the future), such results as those from the Grant study are more easily understood. Thanks, Lynn, as always, for a great article!

  46. If ever we needed proof that educations alone (especially from the ivy league schools) can't fix our education and economic systems.
    Of the 11,409 teachers here in Hawaii, only a handful are former military. Why? Because even though all Vets have particpated in military instructions and know that all it takes is intentional communication for a student to pass, they also know enough to not apply to public school systems. Most discovered from high school experiences that though they have communicated with high ranking officers they still don't know how to get into communication with most educated educators and therefore know that they stand little chance of effecting a transformation within a school system; yet most chancellors and superintendents honestly and sincerely believe they are in communication with faculty and students. This mis perception is partly why educators drive many to apathy/drugs.
    As the Grant study shows, each failed communication with parents and teachers inspires mediocrity or worse. Most end up doing this/her imitation of communication.

  47. llevo mas de un año sufriendo de una mala jugada de la vida. perdi mi trabajo, mi casa y no puedo ver a mi familia. mis aigos se fueron y me siento totalmente sola, en un principio todo el tiempo me la pase llorando y lamentandome. porque ami? pero ahora empiezo a ver la luz y tengo ganas de volver a ser feliz, gracias por notas como estas porque me ayudan mucho.
    pero el problema para los que no somos plenamente felices es: que camino tomar?

  48. Revealing article. The study confirms what so many great teachers have said and are saying. I've passed it on to my kids. Hope it influences their consciouness in a positive way

  49. Stunning Lynne - I echo the thanks of so many before me contributing to a group insight..
    I do a lot of work in the homeless / drug related world and it is a real problem when people believe the source of happiness is an elixir of some sort. That is one powerful illusion!
    I have found that the pursuit of happiness as such can only lead to permanent frustration (not getting it) or a high that can only be temporary (getting it). Supplant the word happiness with the word satisfaction and the difference is resounding.
    Interestingly, happiness in the weft on the warp of satisfaction. Many is the conversation I have had with addicts who seem to get the truth of this. It takes away the pressure on them of always seeking for that rock-bottom-to-eureka moment that's supposed to be around the corner.
    I know defining happiness can be immensely complex and elusive so my guideline may sound simplistic however I have seen so many people transformed by being connected with a community, family, peer group, team, country, friend etc and anyone disconnected and isolated from the whole, thus from God, is invariably unhappy however hard they try.
    The trying in itself can bring satisfaction in knowing they are at least not dumping it on others.
    And the main gist of satisfaction is kindness and giving which, as Yvonne and others have said here is definitely the way we receive.
    Jackie Mackay

  50. Great article and great comments. I also had not seen this particular study in my research/reading.
    What does this tell us about our educational systems? We need to be teaching an unpdated curriculum....
    As a mental health provider I am struck by the addicting qualities of anger (perceived as righteous/valid) and sorrow (perceived as truth).
    When I see someone unable to give up these focal qualities - whether they are eight or eighty - I have to remind myself of the quote from: "Eat, Pray and Love" that refers to a belief held in Bali .
    In Bali, it was said, there is the belief that all of us are going to the same unity with creation - just through one of two paths: either the practice of "Seven levels up" or the practice of "Seven levels down". This was said in the context of meditation. "Seven levels down" was seen as the hard road with lots of pain/torment.
    When I see people committed to anger and sorrow, I can only think that they are going back to unity the hard way - "Seven levels down".
    If we are all connected to a field of unity, then we are all in this together - whether we go the easy, loving way or the hard, angry/sorrowful way.
    This touches on some heavy theology that makes the discussion hard, but when someone makes the switch and reorients to the positive intention, the world seems just so much easier for everyone involved.
    Lynn - thanks for all you do to point us "Seven levels up".

  51. WOW, each and every blog was so inspirational for me. I really feel so light ......Thank you all. There is so much hope. You all always bring so much to the table. Peace HAPPY NEW YEAR'

  52. I was told ( by a Native American elder) while fighting a very serious illness years ago that
    "it's not what happens to you - it's how you handle what happens to you"
    It got me through that difficult experience and many others since!

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