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I think I am. Do you think you are too? What makes a person happy? Is it the same for everyone? Are you considered to be happy because you have financial success, romantic success, a loving family, a beautiful home, a nice car, good health, time to travel, or time to be with those you love? These are all things that sound like any one of them, much less multiples of them, (insert giggle giggle!) would make you happy. But do they?

Being a runner, my email account receives various “running” items that someone in the tech stratosphere thinks would be important to me based (I guess) on my searching at some point something to do with running – I have no idea what. But anyway, one of the emails I receive is from Six Minute Mile. Anyone who can run a six-minute mile (I think) should be a happy person (insert giggle giggle). In reading these emails I have found all sorts of interesting information not only about running but on a host of other inwardly and outwardly ways of being healthy and happy. The most recent interesting message to come out of this email newsletter was being introduced to Dan Beuttner, a National Geographic contributor who writes articles and publicly speaks on being happy and the investigation he has conducted over many years on “the happiest places in the world” – and no, Disneyland is not noted as one of them (insert giggle giggle) as happy as it may make a person to go there (or maybe once did)!

I wanted to know more. So, I went to my own internet search to see what it means to be happy and how you can ensure that you have a happy life and how that may translate into a long-life span, which was also a focus of Mr. Beuttner’s research. Most all the information I got from this search of my own, dealt with happiness within yourself and seemed to have little to do with your surrounding circumstances or other people around you. This did not jive with what I took away from Dan Beuttner’s research and seminar discussion. My meager investigation into this most important of topics seemed to suggest that as long as you are “happy with yourself", it really didn’t matter what type of environment you live in or how others around you perceive their own happy life. Some of the articles I read gave the “10 ways to know if you are happy” and it detailed items like (paraphrasing) - the opinions of others don’t determine how you feel about yourself; you are comfortable saying "no" in order to do what’s best for you; you are happy with your physical body (no matter how unhealthy it may be); and one even suggested that you don’t need "anyone" to feel whole….to “complete” you….and even took it further by saying that YOU can be happy even if everything around you is in disarray or falling apart. Hmm….this sounded more like being a self-centered, selfish person to me, not a happy person. What do you think? Were these articles trying to make unhappy people feel okay about themselves?

I’ve never thought very much about being happy – have you? I have always felt that I am a happy person if speaking in totality. Yes, I have sad times, depressed times, I’ve been upset, confused, unsure of a lot in my life – but again, in a broad way of speaking, I look at myself as happy and I think others around me think I am a happy person, that my life is a good one. Mr. Beuttner’s research, in my opinion, looked at being a happy person not as a “within” ideology but in the idea that being happy is a condition influenced by more of an “outwardly” way of “why” you are happy.

He (and others) has identified and studied (what they call) “Blue Zones” that exist in our world and investigated why, in these particular places, there are more people living way over the average life span. Most of these places boasting a large percent of people living to be 100! During this investigation, the “happy” factor seemed to play a part in the ultimate placement of these locations in this longevity category. Not only did cities in these specified areas have more centenarians when compared with the rest of the world, but it appeared that the majority of the people of all ages were happy, extrapolated (and I think appropriately) that happier people live longer lives. The research he discussed brought forward reasons for these Blue Zone cities to have long-living, happier people and it was eye opening to me (of the American culture) who seem to, by and large, agree with the above “10 ways to be happy” theorem, as in “it’s all about you” mentality. He noted these places that are so “happy” have healthier lifestyles, depend (my words not his) on others, are supportive, secure, and trusting of “the system” and the rules of their particular society, and have higher purposes other than financial or other “selfish” parameters that most of us think about when we ask ourselves what it takes to make us happy. Interestingly though, some of the very “outwardly” ways the happy citizens of these places interact and strive to be successful at, translates in so many ways in outcomes of inwardly, personal barometers that most of us associate with the universal ideal (on some level) of “being happy” – health, romance, family, security.

For instance, he discusses that some of these places have religious and family-oriented societal behaviors that the overwhelming majority of the population ascribes to in the same way. He noted a study that points to people of faith being happier than people that do not have religious beliefs. In another city, he points to the feeling of security (in a crime and governing sense) and the feeling of equality this society has embraced. With extremely tough consequences for committing crimes identified in this community, everyone knows that they are being treated in fair and equal ways, therefore, again, extrapolating that there is not the impetus to exert your particular gender, race, or economic condition over others or to blame the same for the way you are treated by the government. A society of people that is interested and invested in each other more than oneself, where the common purpose is to be accountable for any and all your personal actions and decisions and being assured that others feel this same accountability, translates, obviously, into a society of safety, which makes the collective, happier. And, voila, this type of lifestyle embraced by these societies, in most cases, also translates into a financially secure lifestyle (which doesn’t necessarily mean a financially rich lifestyle) and then a happier, longer life - what do you know ~

1+1 does = 2 (insert giggle giggle!).

He fielded questions from the audience about if weather or high levels of economic success considerations were important in these Blue Zone cities for their inclusion in living the “happy long life”, and the answer was no; but that, in fact, most of the cities included in the Blue Zones were not economically rich places. Huh? They are still happy and live a long and meaningful life without the trappings of extravagance? You betcha.

So…what do you think makes you the happiest. Mr. Buettner said something to the effect of the people he described above in these Blue Zones don’t necessarily recognize the things that he uncovered in his investigation as the things that make them happy. These “ingredients” were baked into their society way before any of the current people were born, it’s truly just the way these people live. They don’t look at it as “the ways they’ve adopted or prefer to live”, it’s just the way it is.

He did leave the discussion with the following advice given by Armando Fuentes Aguirre (my remembrance paraphrased): Eat without gluttony; Drink without getting drunk; Argue without getting mad; Love without jealousy; Occasionally misbehave (“my” insert giggle giggle).

Although what it takes to make each person happy is certainly specialized to that person ~ but when you live around happy people, when you feel safe among your community, when you have children that are happy, healthy, and successful (in whatever way that manifests), and you have a measure of financial security, these are all universally accepted values of happiness. Other than these, then those “specialized” happiness items can come into play.

I can think of a lot of things that make me happy other than these “societal” values – and that's okay - we’ll just leave it at that (insert giggle giggle!)…..

Cheers to being happy! Next up (Thursday)..... Are You Healthy? I try to be….

Always remember to insert a giggle giggle ...for sure it will make you happy! Kay 😊

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