“I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” (Voltaire)
As greetings of Happy New Year fade into recent history – let’s take a moment to explore what ‘happiness’ can mean to all of us and how it relates to realizing a healthier life-style and ultimately a healthier planet. The thesis of this message is that regardless of our circumstances we can be happy, or happier … and that there are some straightforward ways to achieve that goal-state for ourselves, for the people we love, and for the planet itself.
Action for Happiness is an organization dedicated to promoting happiness. They provide friendly tools and tips that can help all of us realize greater happiness. Their guidebook, “Ten Keys to Happier Living” is available free of charge from their website ‘www.actionforhappiness.org’ and lays out the following ten factors:
- Give – do things for others
- Relate – connect with people
- Exercise – take care of your body
- Awareness – live life mindfully
- Trying Out – keep learning new things
- Dream – have goals to look forward to
- Resilience – find ways to bounce back
- Emotions – look for what’s good
- Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning – be part of something bigger.
Each of these principles merits consideration and readers are encouraged to go to Action for Happiness’s website to get more information on how to challenge and reward ourselves every day in the pursuit of happiness. From Sustainable Orillia’s perspective, happiness is a very sustainable goal as well. The ten factors listed above are all eco– friendly, and relate directly or indirectly to improving the quality of life and the sustainability of our environment, including right here in Orillia. Let’s explore three of them a bit more to reinforce that correlation.
Awareness – live life mindfully. Mindfulness has become better understood over the past few years. We are becoming more aware of our intent and the effect our actions have on others and our environment. Increasingly we ask ourselves a version of this question “Is this action going to move us closer to sustainability or further away?” Challenging ourselves to make small changes, takes mindfulness and ultimately leads to higher levels of satisfaction with both ourselves and with the contributions we are making.
Trying Out – learning new things … Nothing is more stimulating than continuous learning and development. At Sustainable Orillia we consistently encourage interested readers to try new behaviors, to take those small steps that will move us towards greater sustainability. Equally important, there is no better time than now, while we are being asked to stay in our homes, to learn more about climate change and what each of us can do to help avert the looming crisis.
Meaning – be part of something bigger … well we are already part of something bigger; as members of this community and more broadly as citizens of this planet. Most of you have children, or at a minimum you know some children that you like: and that’s all the criteria you need to be part of this global movement to raise awareness and change behaviors that will do nothing less than save this planet for those children and all the children who follow.
Together with the other six factors, we quickly realize that happiness isn’t a goal in and of itself; nor is it measured in money, position or possessions. Rather it is the bi-product of participating with our families, our neighbours and community in the pursuit of collective, sustained well-being; a goal that translates into a greener, more sustainable and happier lifestyle for us all.
Our thanks to the Action for Happiness for the use of their materials today.