Michael J. Fox on a Himalayan journey researching happiness and optimism

Do tough times make a person bitter or better? For Michael J. Fox it certainly seems to be better. Battling early-onset Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years has not diminished Michael’s determination to stay happy, optimistic and productive. While knowing he has the health problem he’s become a passionate advocate for stem cell research, set-up The Michael J. Fox Foundation – the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research – and become a best-selling author.

On May 8, 2009, Beliefnet published the article Michael J. Fox and Gross National Happiness. It’s about Michael’s ABC documentary Adventures of an Incurable Optimist that aired in the US on May 7. Michael travelled to Bhutan to film the TV special about optimism. Read the following inspiring extract from the article.

“The thing that really struck me was his trip to Bhutan. Apparently, this small Buddhist nation situated between China and India has a government policy that dictates happiness. Instead of a Gross National Product, they’ve adopted the idea of Gross National Happiness. According to an article in this week’s New York Times, the Bhutanese constitution clearly states that government programs should be judged by the happiness they bring rather than by the economic benefit. And Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley says things like this: “Happiness is complete well-being…being content with what is and with what one has.” Wow.

But the remarkable kicker came later in the segment, when Fox, who traveled to Bhutan to report the story, discovers being surrounded by such happiness diminished his Parkinson symptoms. He could hike up a mountain, the jerking motions that plague him dissipated and in general, this natural optimist just felt better.”

Why would Michael’s symptoms improve while in Bhutan? I think the energy in people’s thoughts and actions, especially if it’s on a mass scale, can build-up in the environment and affect our well-being. Have you ever walked through an old building and suddenly felt frightened and sensed unpleasant things have happened there? Or walked through an area and felt energized and uplifted, without knowing why?

How awesome it would be if more governments would adopt a philosophy like Bhutan’s. Can you imagine what the world’s health care, education and welfare systems…would be like?

Michael J. Fox and Gross National Happiness, 2009, Beliefnet,

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2 Responses to “Michael J. Fox on a Himalayan journey researching happiness and optimism”

  1. Lily says:

    Not to detract from the power of happiness, for attitude “is everything,” but Michael also mentioned the possibility that it was the high altitude or perhaps the medicine he was taking for altitude sickness that may have lessened his Parkinson symptoms.

  2. Nyomi says:

    Good point Lily.

    Thanks for your comment and for visiting my site.

    Best wishes,

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