A happy challenge

Today is International Happiness Day, so I thought I’d talk about happiness; my happiness, your happiness, and the world’s happiness in general.

The day was “invented” by the United Nations to recognise “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world…” and aims to bring attention to the fact that, whilst the pursuit of happiness is a core human endeavour, “basic material well-being is still elusive for far too many living in extreme poverty“.

Unfortunately, I am not in a position to make an immediate impact on the lives and happiness of those in the greatest need of support, but I thought that talking about happiness from where I am might play a small role in helping others. Maybe it will inspire someone to do something that then inspires someone else and so on until the right person is inspired to bring about worldwide happiness. (You never know, it could happen.)

But I am in a position to talk about happiness from my viewpoint. So, here goes!

In the Western world, where even the poorest of our society live in the lap of relative luxury, happiness (or the pursuit of it) isn’t thought of as one’s ability to find clean water or safe food – those things are almost taken for granted – rather happiness is measured by income, possessions, and (I hope!) family and friends. We measure our happiness by things that are far removed from the bare-bones basics that people in other cultures aren’t lucky enough to have.

Yet, still, we complain. (Yes, we. I am guilty of this, too.)

Personally, I can’t count the number of times I’ve complained that there’s no food in the house or that I don’t have anything to wear. When, in reality, I just don’t want that food and I just don’t want to wear that dress. But I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve sulked about not having friends, about being lonely, about not having enough money for the latest-and-greatest gadget.

And I guess that you’ve made similar complaints. (Come on, I’ve confessed to it; so can you!)

Now, regular Just Frances readers may know that I’ve struggled with happiness since the death of my husband, but they’ll also know that I’ve tried to find joy in everyday things, that I’ve worked to live The Desiderata, and that I’ve set the ultimate goal to be blissfully happy. It’s hard to be happy some days because feeling sorry for myself seems to come so naturally right now, but I am constantly reminded of my blessings in life, which help me to remember to be happy.

Regular readers will also know that I like to set challenges for others. So my challenge to you is to think about what makes you happy (here’s some inspiration), and then tell me about it in the comments below. You can write as much or as little as you want; just spread the joy! (And bonus points to anyone who shares this post, and the challenge, with others, or for anyone who posts about happiness on their own blog or social networking site.)

Now, go forth and be happy!

2 Replies to “A happy challenge”

  1. I love this challenge! Thanks for snapping me out of my self-induced bad mood. I was beginning to invent new swear words/phrases. Here are some of the things that make me happy – in no particular order:
    1. Working in my yard
    2. Walking with my husband and dog
    3. That first sip of a latte
    4. That really intense light green new growth at the tips of fir trees
    5. Hearing good news about my friends
    6. Music
    7. Snuggling in with a sleeping bag, popcorn, and the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy
    8. The smell of clean laundry
    9. My mom’s cooking
    10. Achieving a physical goal (e.g. a proper pull-up)
    11. Mowing my lawn
    12. Good whiskey
    13. Cooking
    14. They smell of alfalfa fields right after they have been cut
    15. The woods
    16. The smell of the woods when they are warm and just barely damp
    17. Getting to the top of the mountain
    18. Root beer floats
    19. Watching Game of Thrones, Battle Start Gallactica, The Big Bang Theory, or any Anthony Bourdain travel/food show with my husband and dog
    20. Working out – it may not be easy to start, but at some point I will find myself exhausted and smiling
    21. Not having to be a grown up when I am with the girls from book club
    22. Looking at all of my books
    23. My step-father’s generosity
    24. Getting my weekend chores done on Friday
    25. Looking at pictures of good times with friends and family
    26. My dog’s belly
    27. The colors of the fall leaves at work – mind-blowingly awesome!
    28. The smell of new tennis balls
    29. Planning a big meal for a holiday or party
    30. Floating on my back in the water

    1. What a fantastic list! So many of them are things that make me happy, too! (I love No 4 – the new growth on the fir trees. Lovely!)

      I hope that you get to enjoy all of the things on your list in the near future. And you should know that you’ve brought a massive smile to my face by sharing these bits of happiness!

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