March 20, International Day of Happiness

March 17, 2014

   What constitutes happiness for you? Is it more money, more things, free time, many friends, good health, a safe place to live, laughter? As different as we are as human beings so is our definition of happiness.

   I realize that happiness is not easy to define. My definition is wide ranging. But a core piece of it is a feeling of being healthy and mobile. There was a study done in the late 90s which focused on the concept of vitality. They called it "a positive feeling of aliveness and energy." That's great! It's a pretty involved research paper and you might say we already knew this, but what a great topic to investigate.

   There has been lots of thinking about well-being, perhaps the most famous I remember is Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which was a popular topic in college psychology classes. Many people still immediately relate to it and would say that self-actualization defines happiness.

International Day of Happiness

   This Thursday, it's the 2nd International Day of Happiness which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The language of their resolution starts:

"Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal..."

That ties right into our Declaration of Independence in which Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Even Abraham Lincoln gave us one of our most quotable quotes:
"Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be."
   Reading a bit of history, Americans didn't invent the idea but we certainly pushed it forward as something more than a personal thing. It's part of the charter of the country. I think it's a good thing that happiness is getting a worldwide official treatment. It's a reminder, even in one small measure, of what makes life worth living.

Happy to be SLO

   Remember when San Luis Obispo was the happiest city in America? That was on Oprah in 2011. It actually came from research done by Dan Buettner on his concept of happy places called Blue Zones. SLO made the cut. Here's a picture of Dan Buettner at Bubblegum Alley.

   His research is very interesting stuff. To some degree I'll bet many of us chose to live on the Central Coast because of the quality of life he recognized, too. There are lots of reasons.

   Maybe it's our love of the outdoors. We have more than 6,500 acres of open space to hike, walk and cycle with fresh air and uncrowded areas everyone can enjoy. Many of us are well aware of how we impact our environment so we recyle, reuse, and conserve in an effort to keep our impact on the land less intrusive contributing to the specialness of the area.

   Whether it's over a glass of Zin or on a walk on the beach, connecting with friends and family is a way of life - conversation, family style meals, social activities, events, farmers markets and holiday celebrations helps us all feel special and valued. Fund raisers are a big part of the community supporting each other, whether for a family, individual or a cause such as a new school, library or art facility. This act of pulling together as one big family contributes to a greater support system which all human beings need.

   Art is another central coast love. There are many high quality art events both visual and hands on. Giving plenty of choices for everyone to enjoy. Many residents are former and active professionals who share their love of the arts with our community .

   The Central Coast has a Mediterranean climate - warm and dry in the summer and cooler and wetter in the winter. Our weather averages in the 70's as the high and 50's as the low year round. Communities are smog free. March winds bring big waves that local surfers delight in and serve as an invigorating challenge for many cyclists. Along the coastal areas fog is prevalent during the spring and summer months. The warm October and November season comes just before of our holiday season. Rain although lately very sparse is a welcome signal to our winter months.

   Since 1989, the Community Action Partnership's Homeless Services program in SLO provides emergency shelter, on-site information and referral services, and assistance in finding permanent housing for those in need. We have 3 excellent hospitals within a 60 mile radius available to everyone in the community providing state of the art medical services.

   San Luis Obispo is our own pot of gold offering a wonderful way to live, thrive and grow at any age. Who couldn't be happy living here?

   Bring a friendly smile to everyone you see.