What makes us happy?

01202013_What makes us happyCurious as to which country has the healthiest people, I did a search on the Internet and came across this article called: 7 Countries With the Healthiest People. What I found interesting is that it wasn’t just climate or access to a variety of fresh food that defined where the healthiest people reside, but a combination of eating well, being active, and low stress.

From this site, I stumbled across another link with a title “Four Happy Places” that I couldn’t resist clicking. I was glad I did, as it provided a very interesting perspective of what makes people happy. Again, it was fascinating to read that the location was not necessarily the defining factor. A connection to others through family, friends, social clubs, and religion was noted as important, sometimes more so than having lots of money or things (although, a sense of financial security also ranked high). Other important contributors to the lives of these happy people were availability of good public services, jobs that paid well without countless hours of overtime or long commutes, living in safe cities, and being close to nature.

I have given a lot of thought to what makes me happy over the last number of years, and try to write a list every few months. What makes me happy today is a lot different than what my list would have looked like five years ago. Moving to Germany and facing challenges I had not previously encountered or anticipated forced me to take a close look at my life and what it is that brings me happiness, which I am grateful for.

Relationships with my family and friends are very high on my happy list, in addition to:

Food. I get more thrill in buying fresh food than I do buying a new article of clothing. Eating well brings me joy, and I find immense pleasure in preparing a meal whether I am kneading dough for pizza, rolling out gnocchi, turning fresh pasta through a machine, or boiling an egg for my breakfast. Taking time to sit at a table to eat a meal slowly, whether I am alone or sharing it with others, also brings me happiness.

Walks. When I have time, I prefer walking to the grocery store rather than taking the car. I feel more of a connection to my neighbourhood, and in the warmer months, I look forward to seeing all the beautiful flower gardens along the way. On Sundays I try to walk either alone or with my family. Being surrounded by nature is very spiritual for me. Often I walk alone in the forest and try to use this time to quiet my thoughts and just let the trees, breeze, and fresh air fill me with happiness.

Exercise. In addition to walking, I try to work out at the gym and do yoga every week, and in the summer go for long bike rides. I love the feeling of my muscles when they are a little tired but stretched. It also helps me feel less guilty when it comes to my other pleasure of eating!

Finding pleasure in simple things. Each day, I try to find pleasure in things that are routine. I get as much joy from eating breakfast every day as I do in spending a night in a nice hotel. As quoted by Rabindranath Tagore, “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”

Writing. I prefer to express my thoughts through writing than communicating verbally and find the solitude in writing makes me happy.

Love. Sharing love with others and the sense of being loved.

What makes you happy?

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