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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Happy habits: Get out of your head and your house

California wants its citizens to be happy, reports Lynn La on Cal Matters. The Legislature, which once made "self-esteem" a running joke on Doonesbury, have launched a Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy Outcomes.

Anthony Rendon, the former Assembly speaker, watched the 2011 documentary Happy 14 times in a two-day period, he told La. His committee held a three-hour hearing that heard speakers extol relationships, a meaningful life, a sense of gratitude and a connection to nature as keys to happiness. Policy ideas "ranged from the very ambitious (universal healthcare) to the more minor (increasing urban green spaces)."

Fifty-eight percent of Californians said they were "pretty happy" and another 16 percent were "very happy" in a September 2023 survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. Twenty-six percent were "not too happy."

California is the seventh happiest U.S. state, according to WalletHub.

People can learn to be happy -- or happier, concludes a University of Bristol study, reports John Anderer. Science of Happiness students who practice happiness habits, such as gratitude, exercise, meditation or journaling, report greater wellbeing. But they have to keep it up to keep up their spirits.

“It’s like going to the gym – we can’t expect to do one class and be fit forever," explains Professor Bruce Hood.

Get over yourself seems to be good advice.

“Much of what we teach revolves around positive psychology interventions that divert your attention away from yourself, by helping others, being with friends, gratitude or meditating. “This is the opposite of the current ‘selfcare’ doctrine, but countless studies have shown that getting out of our own heads helps gets us away from negative ruminations which can be the basis of so many mental health problems.”

In his book, The Science of Happiness, Hood suggests talking to strangers, giving gifts, walking in nature and getting enough sleep.

Stop telling kids they've been traumatized, says Abigail Shrier, author of Bad Therapy, in a Spiked interview with Brendan O'Neill. People are remarkably resilient -- unless they're encouraged to dwell on the negative.

Many young people "are made to feel like they cannot do things for themselves and must rely on experts," Shrier says. They feel helpless. Which is depressing.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Mar 17

Yes, most people ARE happy in CA. But they aren't the PRODUCVIVE and well-to-do people fleeing the state. San Diego is arguably has the best climate and geography in the world. Yet San Diego is still hemorrhaging -- losing population to other CA areas, but mostly out of state. And the outflow is accelerating, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

While "newcomers" are arriving, most are financial drains on taxpayers, while most of the people leaving are productive earners who previously were an asset to our local economy.

The city's response has just been announced -- not surprisingly, the city will try to raise the sales tax another full 1% this November.


Mar 17

Maybe kids - and people in general - would be happier (and less angry) if they weren’t being constantly bombarded, by schools, media et al, with a constant stream of narrative about all of the supposed racism, colonialism, misogyny and so on, ad nauseum, without any balancing narrative about how fortunate they really are; compared with the rest of the world and with most of past history. Being encouraged not to focus on their emotions would also be helpful.

Mar 18
Replying to

I never said it was mistake, because I don’t think it is. It’s deliberate and, in my view, that negatively is very harmful; both to individuals and to society at large.


Mar 17

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