Hey - look at that! Two days in a row!
I just finished reading a book that I thought was so fun! I picked it up at the airport a couple of years ago, started reading it on the way home, and then promptly forgot about it on my bedside table... until a couple of weeks ago. It's called "The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World" by Eric Weiner (pronounced "whiner" - not like that other guy!). It was interesting, funny, and opened my eyes to the different ways people - and cultures - find happiness.
Here are some of the things that stuck out for me:
*Some of the happiest places in the world - you may not realize are the happiest by visiting... The Netherlands and Switzerland, for example. The people tend to be pretty stoic, but the way of life leads to a contentment that breeds happiness. In the Netherlands, freedom (with responsibility) and tolerance make it easy to march to your own drummer. In Switzerland, punctuality, cleanliness, clean air, good chocolate, civic-mindedness, and the proximity to stunningly beautiful nature - all these things that you don't normally think of... Lead to a well-run society - and happiness.
*Another part of Switzerland's happiness that I liked? They go to great lengths not to provoke envy in others! They know instinctively that envy is the enemy of happiness... So if you've got it, don't flaunt it! They're also a trusting society. "You can't feel properly engaged if you don't trust the people you engage with on a regular basis. Engagement breeds trust; trust breeds engagement. It's a two way flow; both parts are critical."
*The Swiss are also patient... Another favorite quote: "Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else. Maybe the current conditions in Switzerland... make it simply easier to 'be' and therefore 'be happy.'"
*The people of Bhutan don't carry unrealistic expectations... The greatest failures and greatest successes are equal in their eyes - in the grand scheme of their lives. The most important question is, "did I make a difference in someone's life?" This Buddhist philosophy permeates life - and thoughts on death. Spirituality is everywhere. And they live with "enough." They'd rather play darts with friends, than spend a day working for things they don't need...
*Once again, in Bhutan, trust is mentioned - over wealth and health - as a key to happiness. Relationships are more important than any other factor.
*In Qatar, a country with LOTS of money and virtually no culture (read the chapter - fascinating!), but a strong Muslim faith-base, this was my favorite quote: "Islam, like other religions, maintains that if you want to be happy, put great effort into living a virtuous life and expect nothing, absolutely nothing. Divorce your actions from their results, and happiness will flow like oil."
That's all I have for today... I'll add more snippets tomorrow!
Things I am thankful for today:
1. Feeling content with my life.
2. The belly-laughs of little kids outside my window.
3. Getting the house cleaned before our vacation.
4. Starting to pack.
5. Blogging again.
7. Our day lilies are blooming!
8. Sending notes to our sponsored child, Mete, in the Congo.
9. Interesting books that make us think about our approach to living life...
10. Fresh cut watermelon... Mmmm...