Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wonder and Happiness

A friend recently asked her FB friends to share their secrets of ‘being’ happy. This is an incredibly gifted artist wondering about the essence of happiness. She received 31 replies. I was not one of them, but I’ve been thinking…….

My six and a half year old (who recently, upon seeing a picture of me receiving my Brock Alumni of Distinction Award, remarked, “Mommy, you looked absolutely beautiful. That must have been hard work.” So I’m on fence about his kindness) asks me at least 500 50 times a day, “Don’t you wonder about…..” It could be anything: how he managed to get both legs in one leg of his shorts, how his ALL his lego ended up under the table, how he stayed in the lines while colouring, how all the webkins managed to meet at the bottom of the stairs for their staff meeting. Needless to say, wonder isn’t always the word I’m thinking. But what is amazing is that he always asks about my wonder when he is happy.

Etymologically wonder originates from the 13th century word, wundor, and came to mean the emotion associated with some marvelous, astonishing thing. The dictionary describes the verb as meaning, to be curious about. So Garrett is constantly asking me if I am astonished, curious, even marveling, about his accomplishments – about what makes him happy. And when I take a deep breath after the fiftieth time to remember this perspective, I realize that wonder and happiness are connected.

In a recent article on the Greater Good website, Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor and author of the 2007 book, The How of Happiness, reveals some of her research about happiness. Interestingly, she has found that individuals who express gratitude are likelier to be happy, and she describes gratitude as wonder, among other things. But more perhaps even more importantly, she tested whether or not kindness increased happiness.

Guess what? It does. In fact, individuals who performed different acts of kindness throughout a week experienced a greater increase in happiness than those performing the same act over and over again. I wonder how she might feel about the dakband project :) 

Here is an incredible video that expresses wonder.


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