After a fun Friday night frolic at the local, I was having a sort of slow Saturday morning (read between the lines…. kind of hungover) reading the paper and drinking tea. Am slowly recovering!! Our local paper, the Vancouver Sun, has started a new series on “Fnding Happiness”. Being a generally quite chipper gal, I delved into the feature. I learned that the five characteristics of happy people are:
1. Happy people manage their money well (doing ok so far, no debt collectors calling and a few bucks stashed for my old age).
2. Happy people spend their money on life experiences, rather than material goods (check, that’s me. I sometimes despair when I visit my friends in their beautifully decorated homes, or they pick me up in fancy cars. I’m pretty basic in both of the above. But I do have a treasure trove of experiences – oh yeah). This is me on a trail ride in the high desert in Nevada. Amazing.
3. Happy people think fondly about the past and skip over the bad bits. (had to think about this one for a bit, but yes, definitely getting way better at letting go of the bad bits and keeping the good. I’ve learned to forgive, if not forget!!).
4. Happy people are empathetic, sharing the happiness (and sorrow) of others. (Yup, pretty good on that one).
5. Happy people live in communities where they have a sense of belonging, freedom and of being valued. (5 out of 5 – outstanding! Although my idea of “community” may not be everyone’s – I include my extended online community of family and friends all over the world and am much less tied to a particular square of real estate).
I also learned that as people’s incomes rise, so does their happiness, but only to a point and that point is about $75,000. After that, extra money doesn’t add significantly more happiness. Seems that in the developed world that’s the number that means you can basically pay your bills and not worry about food, shelter and other necessities. It gives me a lot of happiness to think that I’m so much happier than those gazillionaires who just keep getting less happy with every extra million they stash away. I wonder how happy Bill Gates is? Maybe being super rich just makes you worry about how to keep all that loot, or how to protect all your fancy belongings or just how to keep getting more of all of the above. Safe to say I’m never going to have this problem!!
And wouldn’t you know, even happiness has an app, trackyourhappiness.org is a Harvard research study using an iPhone app to track people’s own experience of happiness “in the moment”, three times a day. I wouldn’t mind knowing exactly how happy I am, so I signed up. I logged on with my phone, input some basic demographic information and I’m now signed up to text my happiness response (or perhaps lack thereof) in real time three times a day. Should be interesting. Did my first one immediately after I signed up and despite being a little worse for wear from last night, I’m pretty happy right about now. It’s sunny Saturday, lying on the couch reading and blogging, getting ready to take my pooch out for a nice long walk in the forest and then a fun night out listening to a great band tonight. And I just finished booking flights for a fabulous birthday trip with a girlfriend in May – see above under “experiences, not things”. What’s not to love about my day. Simple needs fulfilled.
Have a found the deeper meaning of my life? I don’t think so, but I’m a lot happier not worrying about that. I have a good job that’s challenging and brings me lots of satisfaction, even through the ups and downs. I have enough $$$ to live a decent life and indulge my love of travel and music (in the best case those both happen together!). I just bought weekend passes for the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky this summer. It’s a three day festival of music, art and environmental activism. And what do I know about Louisville – nothing, but I’m going to learn and it’s going to be a blast. Check out this line-up – it makes me happy just reading it.
As Bob Marley would say, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Off to enjoy the sunshine.