Tag Archives: Happiness Index

Kick-starting from the down cycle

licht_schattenBy Reino Gevers

What makes some people happier, more successful and healthier than others? Although research pinpoints some heriditary factors the real clue that makes those rare individuals stand out from the rest of the crowd, is how they deal with the natural up-and-down cycles of life.

The common denominator of highly successful people such as Nelson Mandela, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, businessman Richard Branson or writer  J.K. Rowling is that they all learned ways of kickstarting themselves out of terrible down cycles, that would have destroyed most other people.

The natural reaction to a major setback in life is a type of “shock-freeze paralysis.” The kick-starters however, have adopted habits of how to get out of the down cycle as soon as possible. Lets face it life is not all sunshine and glory. We have bad days and they can sure knock us out of all that we trust and believe in. The loss of a loved one, a life-threatening disease, job-loss, bankruptcy, divorce, and an unforeseen accident. Life is full of unforseen circumstances.

While we can’t control external events we sure have control of how we react to them. So how do you get out of the down-cycle? For me walking the Camino in Spain has been a test of up-and-down cycles every time, a real analogy of life. Going on a pilgrimage, or taking a complete time-out for reorientation, has for me been a major help, like leaving a dysfunctional marriage and a well-paid job that was fast pulling me into a burnout. Simply being in a completely different setting with no electronic distractions and having alone time is really important in stimulating creativity  – and more importantly – learning the lesson from the down cycle. People with a generally high energy level and thus physical and mental resilience, will also find it easier to get out of the down cycle. So if you are in a dark spot, here are some tips:

  • Get moving with physical exercise to get those happy hormones going and start boosting the body’s immune system with nutrients from power foods.
  • Find room for alone time,  prayer, meditation or any other ritual that gives you energy.
  • Meet with friends, family, or any other people that you know will lift you up with positive vibes and to strengthen your feeling that you are part of a community.
  • Create a mental picture or vision board where you want to be in six months, three years, five years.
  • Givers Gain: Are there any ways of where you can give to others in serving the community and making a positive contribution to society? It helps get you out of the rut of endless negative self-reflection.

Reino Gevers – Mentoring for Leaders and Achievers




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Happiness is where you live

What makes people or nations happier than others? The World Happiness Index released last month  lists Denmark as the world happiest country followed by Norway and Switzerland.

All these European countries are very affluent by world standards. But why are other wealthy countries like the United States  not right up there among the leading “happy nations.”

What stands out in Denmark, Norway and Switzerland is their excellent health care and education system which are regarded as a basic human right. This is sustainable development. The people, especially mothers, families and children, are seen as the most important asset, literally the golden gateway to the future.

The Happiness Report lists six other key variables that explains three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries. These six factors include:

  • real GDP per capita
  • healthy life expectancy
  • someone to count on
  • perceived freedom to make life choices
  • freedom from corruption and generosity.

Another key aspect mentioned in the report is mental health:

“Some studies show mental health to be the single most important determinant of whether a person is happy or not. Yet, even in rich countries, less than a third of mentally ill people are in treatment. Good, cost-effective treatments exist for depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis, and the happiness of the world would be greatly increased if they were more widely available.”

The report goes on to say that “happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more, and are also better citizens. Well-being should be developed both for its own sake and for its side-effects.”

One other aspect needs to be noted in these “happy nations” . Corruption and crime is extremely low by international standards. All the countries renowned for their corruption and crime, sadly including my own home country South Africa, are pretty much down at the bottom of the list.

If a government cannot protect its own people from being mugged, raped or robbed, it is on a fast downward spiral. The best talents in a country are bound to emigrate to those countries where they feel safe, can live their full potential and be happy.


Some would argue that happiness is all a state of mind, wherever you live. That, I think, is too simplistic and approach. What I read from the Happiness Report is that you need some decisive preconditions that only good governance can provide:

  • You need enough material resources to provide for basic needs
  • The opportunity to live a long and healthy life with your loved ones.
  • A good education and the freedom of choice to do what you find to be your life’s purpose
  • Freedom from crime and corruption

Quoting the Dalai Lama: “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

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