Motivated by Gretchen's 'Happiness Project' I decided to reflect on this notion of happiness.
Happiness has different meanings for people. Thinking on this topic, I am struck by a memory of a workshop I facilitated for Indigenous women of the Americas in the Peruvian jungle. One evening, sitting by the fire, the women were talking about their communities and how difficult it was for them to make it to the workshop. They spoke about the hardships they are faced with all through laughter and beaming as they spoke about their children. Earlier that day, I teased that I should wear a t-shirt that said, “I’d Rather be a Tourist” because clearly the facilities in the jungle are not the Hilton. Sitting among the women I felt ashamed for having that thought, even in jest.
As I read some of Gretchen’s 12 commandments to becoming happier, I got that most of the points, although universal, really are for people in developed countries whose concerns don't have to include the basics of survival. As an example I will use Gretchen's list, because I like it. The Peruvian example comes from one of the women at the the workshop.
American / Peruvian
1. Be yourself / 1. Be strong
2. Let it go. / 2. Be thankful with what you have
3. Act the way I want to feel. / 3. Accept that you can’t put yourself first
4. Do it now. / 4. Recognize your opportunities
5. Be polite and be fair. / 5. Be respectful but strong
6. Enjoy the process. / 6. Live in the moment / let each moment follow
7. Spend out. / 7. Treasure what you have
8. Identify the problem. / 8. Identify the solutions
9. Lighten up. / 9. Laugh, and laugh some more
10. Do what ought to be done. / 10. Do what can be done
11. No calculation. / 11. Appraise risks
12. There is only love. / 12. There is only one ‘you’
Happiness is relative, fleeting, but necessary for our body's emotional and spiritual well-being no matter who we are. The important thing to remember is that pure happiness lives within each of us.