"For the people of Arhus (Denmark), she said, the keys are small-town friendliness and ready access to nature......The Danish path to happiness , after all, isn't about aspiring to scale peaks but rather about the satisfaction that comes from living at a high plateau. It's about thriving in an environment that nudges them away from superficial pleasures and toward lasting - and sometimes counterintuitive- activities that bring lasting happiness."
Dan Buettner from 'Thrive. Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way.'
February! The winter blues. This time of year really gets to me and I know it gets to most people. The quote above was from a book featured on Oprah last week. This time of year lots of people talk about happiness and the explosion of happiness research which has taught us a lot I think. It's so interesting to have the research confirm what we mostly already know, that money doesn't make us happy, commuting makes us unhappy, not having enough money makes us unhappy but having lots doesn't make us happier and so on. It's so interesting to read about what happy people have in common. The bottom line seems to be social connection and proximity to nature. That's certainly true for me. That is one of the main reason behind our decision to go to the island. A small community and nature right outside the front door. I feel the change as soon as I arrive. I hear the birds, hear the wind in the trees, we walk on the beach and watch the ocean waves...I am immediately aware that we are small beings on a big earth and that we aren't here for that long really. That thought helps me feel more grounded in the decisions I make as opposed to superficial concerns like career aspirations or material wealth. Somehow its so much easier there to stay focused on what really matters...time with loved ones, helping each other, just enjoying life and other living things. Being at one with the earth.
I discovered this about my own experience while I lived in Alaska. I have lived in many places which gives me the distinct advantage of comparing how I function in varied environments. Inexplicably I was immediately happy in Alaska. I figured it out over the years I spent there. First of all, friendly people. I loved the Alaskan people. The first week we were there a neighbour came over and invited us to a street barbeque, no need to bring anything, someone had just caught a salmon so just come on over. We met almost all our neighbours that day and they were very happy people. Even in the middle of winter, they were out skiing and hiking, it didn't slow them down. We had get togethers and had such a great time. Then there were those mountains that we could see from our window everyday and the weather that reminded us that we are so powerless and insignificant compared to the power of nature. It instilled an awe and respect for the earth I have never lost since. I realized that I have to have this in my life from now on and I have. It's why I chose the west coast of Canada as a final, maybe, place to live out my life. Winters are much easier here but the nature is just as awesome. Best of both worlds.
That's what we all need to do...figure out what makes us happy, we are all unique that way, each of us has a list of what inexplicably brings up that happy feeling in us, we must pay attention to what our feelings are telling us. There's a valuable message there, a guide to finding our bliss.