Sunday 20 May 2012

"Cloud 9"

"Make every day a cloud 9 kinda day."

I have been on vacation. I sat in the glorious sunshine on a patio, enjoying a cold drink and delicious pasta with fresh seafood. I visited some beautiful scenic viewpoints. I explored a night market and tasted new foods. I spent time laughing with wonderful family & friends. And I did that all in my own city.

Three days, two visiting cousins and a new perspective.

How often do we get stuck in the comfortable routine of our daily lives? Pretty much most of the time, in my estimation. During the three days that I recently spent with my cousins I did things that I have never done in the 26 years that I have lived in Vancouver - kind of crazy when I think about it. But sitting on the patio of the Keefer Hotel last night, enjoying a great glass of red wine, I was reminded of the joy of seeking pleasure and savouring the moment.  

As a resident of a large city I see it, and feel it, every day - the fast pace that we keep in life. If we aren't rushing off to work, a meeting, to pick up the kids or get groceries, we seem to have our thumbs tapping away to send a super important text or get the latest Twitter updates (full disclosure: I admit that I may have developed my own Twitter addiction!). We have gotten to the point as a society where we have almost forgotten how to enjoy the small moments in life. As a result, we aren't really living our lives to the fullest or happiest.

A fabulous book that I read a few months ago focuses on the quest for happiness and how we can get more of it in our lives. The book is called "Thrive: Finding  Happiness the Blue Zones Way" by Dan Buettner. Dan is an internationally recognized National Geographic researcher and explorer. In his book he examines some of the happiest places (Blue Zones) in the world: Denmark, Singapore, Mexico, and San Luis Obispo, California. Turns out that money or the latest tech gadget, shockingly (!), aren't what make us happy. It's really the simple things that make a difference. Here are some thoughts from "Thrive":
Family Matters: "In Singapore, family is at the centre of the social structure. In this collectivist society, the term "family" includes not only those genetically related to each other but also friends and neighbours. This extended support system allows Singaporeans to thrive and care for one another in unique, encouraging ways."
Gathering Joy: "Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman developed the "day reconstruction method" to measure people's happiness during each part of the day. This unique way of reporting happiness, in segments rather than a collective whole, showed the least happy time of day was when people were alone (commuting to or from work or school) and the happiest portions were with others (dinner with family or interacting with friends).

In the past year I have been a journey to uncover my dreams, find more joy, learn and grow, and become the person that I know I have the potential to become. No, I don't want to be a supermodel or a millionaire or have an elaborate wedding or travel around the world in 90 days. What I want is to leave the world just a little bit better than it was when I got here. I'm still figuring out how to do that but with each step the path gets easier to follow.

But do you know what you want? When was the last time that you thought about that? Why not set aside a day or even a few hours to do something that you have wanted to do for awhile - it could be trying a new restaurant or taking a dance class. Enjoy the moments and the experience.  Afterward, think about what made you happy. Hold onto that and then find ways to incorporate that into your life on a regular basis. Sometimes the first step in a new direction is the biggest step and the scariest one to take. But it's worth it in the end.

My next step is to create a list of things to do this summer - not things that I "might like to do if I have the time", but things that I am GOING TO DO! I'm pretty sure that visiting cloud 9 will be at the top of the list.

KB xo

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