Happiness is on the rise – or at least the research and books available on happiness has risen. Bookstore shelves are filled with books to teach us how to be happy, we tap our feet to songs about being happy, and we listen to television shows on the latest tips for finding happiness. The truth is, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress levels, anxiety and depression are on the rise. Americans are on the hunt for happiness.
Discovering Your Optimum ‘Happiness Index’ by Errol and Marjorie Gibbs, creators of the Optimum Happiness Index (OHI) is a new book on happiness. The authors view Optimum Happiness “as a state of happiness that is higher than the commonly held notion of people’s happiness. “The goal of the corresponding OHI,” says Gibbs, “is to provide a quantifiable measure for the individual to assess his or her happiness, and then take action (self-improvement), to help stem the rising tide of unhappiness in his or her life.” Individuals can take a survey consisting of 100 questions to get their Happiness Index. A summary report provides feedback on areas that might have a negative effect on the individual’s happiness, and Self-Improvement (SI) templates offer suggestions for areas for self-improvement.
Practical tips to achieve happiness
Gibbs and Gibbs offer five practical tips to increase happiness. These include:
- Seek spirituality as the first obligation of human survival and love (agapé) as the highest duty of humanity, and strive to understand the complex and multi-layered nature of happiness.
- Respect fellow beings, regardless of race, creed, color and culture, and practice loyalty, mutual trust, respect, humility and servanthood.
- Cultivate a personable disposition and character to enable communications, and practice fairness, justice, mercy, forgiveness and transparency in matters of leadership.
- Guard against the impulse of greed and extravagance, conduct business with honesty, competence, and integrity, and strive for high integrity relationships in personal and business matters.
- Seek higher education as a career enabler, as well as punctuality, performance and productivity for career advancement. Practice financial prudence, and be charitable to others who may be less fortunate than we are.
Qualities of a strong marriage
In addition to the five aforementioned tips, the authors say, “nothing surpasses the power of love to transform human relationships and foster happiness. Accordingly, they offer five qualities of a strong marriage rooted in biblical wisdom. The five qualities include:
- Companionship (Mark 10:8)
- Completeness (Genesis 2:23–24)
- Enjoyment (1 Corinthians 7:5)
- Procreation (Psalm 127:3)
- Protection (Ephesians 5:25–28)
Additionally, Gibbs and Gibbs suggest ten daily activities and behaviors that seem to support a healthy marriage and promote happiness. These actions are:
- Exercise patience and seek sexual counseling.
- Be grateful for your husband or wife, and forsake others.
- Read books together and share worldviews.
- Cultivate loyalty in marriage, live, love and share dreams.
- Foster co-partnership, co-ownership, as co-equals.
- Foster a peaceful home, peaceful living and a shared vision.
- Work on the family budget together and practice financial prudence.
- Decorate the home with plants and happy colors.
- Practice healthy eating — together and strive for work-life balance.
- Travel to faraway places together and laugh-out-loud (LOL) ― regularly.
Happiness: The new frontier
The authors note that, “happiness is the new frontier of leadership,” and suggest that every country create a Ministry of Happiness (MOH) for their nations. Additionally, they suggest that every nation create a Gross Social Progress (GSP) that measures the social wellbeing of their country, providing a broader snapshot, alongside the Gross Domestic product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP), of the overall wellbeing of their country and its citizens.
Pursuit of pleasure, which is often confused with the pursuit of happiness, is one of the main distractors from happiness. To achieve a “materially based lifestyle,” people often work long hours that result in lack of attention to spouse, children, family and friends. Money is certainly important, up to a certain point, in order to have our basic human needs met, but it doesn’t create happiness. Other factors that negatively impact happiness include infidelity, over competitiveness, business and financial failure, catastrophic illness, marital problems, and character and personality issues.
Errol Gibbs notes, “The most important piece Marjorie and I would like to share is that happiness is about people rather than things. Happiness is a predicate of the interdependent social relationships between and among individuals. It is personal, interpersonal, transactional and transformational.” Relationship bonds impact human interactions in a myriad of ways – both among those with whom we are friends or with whom we share a common religious, cultural, racial or social bond” and those from diverse cultures and worldviews different than our own.
Errol A. and Marjorie G. Gibbs are avid readers, inspired researchers, writers, speakers and mentors. More information can be found in their book Discovering Your Optimum ‘Happiness Index’ (OHI). You can contact them at [email protected] or for more information, go to their website at http://www.gibbshappinessindex.com.
Terry Morrow Nelson, Ph.D. is an assistant dean and assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University. She is also president of the Partnership for Leadership and Transformation. Terry is happily married with two small children.