Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The player will show in this paragraph

Watch the full episode above

What makes you happy? And how does it change with age? Everyone says that money can't buy you love, but what about happiness?

Robert Lipsyte asks the experts. Tal Ben-Shahar, who taught a highly popular Harvard course on the nature of happiness, says that taking aging in stride rather than trying to control it makes people happy-as does exercise. "Four times a week is as effective as our strongest psychotropic drugs," says the author of Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. People who have material expectations for happiness rarely end up content, says John Cacioppo, co-author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. The happiest people, he says, are those who can slow down and savor life and relationships. Dr. Kevin C. Fleming of the Mayo Clinic explains that unhappy people often get the wrong idea about happiness, searching for a constant giddy "high," rather than long-term contentment.

Next, four-time Emmy-award winner David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame, fresh from his recent Broadway successes, talks about Alzheimer's disease from a very personal perspective, as the son and grandson of Alzheimer's patients. Pierce speaks out against foolishly "closing our eyes" to the epidemic that will sweep millions of baby boomers into Alzheimer's ranks. What we need, Pierce says, is more funding for research and greater awareness about the disease.

Joe Queenan is the middle-aged writer who has it all. Well, almost. He likes his house and kids and not going to the office-and he is happy to be finished with the youth most Boomers still wax nostalgic over. Here, the author of Balsamic Dreams: A Short but Self-Important History of the Baby Boom Generation riffs on what's good about getting old: it starts with not being young.

Comments

re:

To improve your life you have to maintain some rule because irregular life cannot bring happiness.

re:

Science involves more than the gaining of knowledge. It is the systematic and organized inquiry into the natural world and its phenomena. Science is about gaining a deeper and often useful understanding of the world.

Happiness and "The Science of Happiness"

I for one like to dissect things and figure them out. While all the comments were mostly valid in determining happiness and how to have it; I think it's simpler than what we make it. First of all, we wouldn't know what happiness was without the sad or melancholy states of mind we get in. I think happiness is truly a state of mind however cliché that may sound. The expectations are very high in all of us about what happiness should be. To me, elation is a component or extension of happiness and should not be confused with happiness in terms of feeling that way all the time. It's truly an unrealistic expectation. Being happy, sad, mad, depressed, passionate etc... is all part of who we are. Get rid of one aspect and we are less than the whole thing. It's all about balance. We tend to reject or resist the sad and angry or any negative emotions we have. This is an exercise in being owned by these emotions. Accept them, embrace them, live them, and move through them because they won't last forever. In that we can find comfort and know that happiness is just around the corner. The REAL key for happiness to me is accepting exactly what is RIGHT NOW in this NOW moment we are in. In this way we find true peace. We don't know how to let go of the external things in our lives that aren't pleasing to us. We let these external things (that we mostly don't have control over) dictate how we're going to react or behave in any given situation. This makes us slaves to the external influences in our lives. Wanting control period is fear based behavior in that we frequently feel out of control. When we feel out of control, we try to have more control over things, people, and relationships in our lives. This usually ends up being detrimental and things can turn out badly. Besides control is an illusion. The only thing we can possibly control (and we don't even do that well) is ourselves. We worry about how things are and what is yet to come and we feel guilty about things we didn't do well or the mistakes we made in the past. This does nothing but take us right out of our NOW moments. All there really is, is NOW; so live it! This is a recipe for peace and with peace there is happiness. That doesn't mean we will feel this way all the time though. That being said, when we are feeling down, consider that the old cliché "Happiness is a state of mind" is true. If we accept that as an axiom then being happy is as easy as changing our minds. That my friends, brothers, and sisters, is the simplicity I mentioned in the beginning of his e-mail. It's that simple. Let go of everything, accept all that is, as it is, in this moment, feel the peace that comes from it, and let it propel you into the state of happiness you desire. One other thing. When we consider that change is a constant we then can come to understand that we won't be happy ALL the time. It would be pretty boring if we were and we'd have nothing to measure it against so as to experience the happiness we all so desperately want in our lives. That's just my take on things. Now, do I always apply these things in my life?! Sure I don't. I'm human and make mistakes with the best of them. Accepting that however and knowing my imperfections brings me closer to the man I want to be. So, don't try to be happy. Just BE happy. Peace and blessings to you all at PBS and humanity. Hugh

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • No HTML tags allowed
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Copy the characters (respecting upper/lower case) from the image.