Saturday, 21 March 2015

How's Your HI?

I just saw something on Facebook that made me very happy. I am writing this on March 20, the first day of spring (at least somewhere in the world!) AND it is International Day of Happiness, as declared by the UN in 2012.

“The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan – a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world,” says the website I consulted.  The Himalayan Kingdom developed a Gross National Happiness Index (GNH) as an alternative to the GNP (Gross National Product – a measurement that depends solely on economics and material wealth) to determine their nation’s well-being. Now the whole wide world is acknowledging that tiny Bhutan (population 770,00, geographically wedged in between India and China) is on to something. “[International Day of Happiness] recognizes that happiness is a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well being of all peoples.”

Well now. This news makes my heart sing. My personal  happiness index (HI) is doing a little happy dance.

Just imagine that all countries would intentionally approach public policies in ways that improve the well-being of ALL people. The declaration states, “The UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development, and alleviates poverty.”  Now my HI is clapping and cheering.

Unfortunately, when I dug a little deeper , I found naysayers, critics, bean-counters, and the ever present “ya-butters”. Yup, they’re everywhere. I also found studies, charts, graphs, policy papers, measurements, and standards – enough numbers to leave me numb. I know it’s important to be real, and that the studies and charts are necessary steps in making the dream come true. And so I am choosing to trust that this declaration and these papers will in some way make a difference in the world.

But just for today, I will also celebrate my own personal Happiness Day. Happiness begets happiness. Reminding yourself of those things that make you happy recharge your HI. There’s a lot of garbage, sadness, and anxiety in my life and yours, in our community and in the world, but just for today, I will look for diamonds in the dust, and celebrate the sparkle.

A good recipe for recharging your HI:
"We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day" – Henri Nouwen

I will celebrate the stories that give me courage to keep pedaling when the going gets tough. Yesterday, a woman who makes comfort cushions for mastectomy patients shared a story about a young woman who has already lost both breasts and a leg to cancer, but made ten cushions for the program because she wants to give something back.

I will celebrate children, who bring delight to our lives. On Wednesday, I took a long walk in the woods with our grandson. We stopped and listened to a winter wren singing his heart out. I suggested the  “boy bird” was probably excited because he and his mate were building a nest. This led to a long conversation about – what else? – the birds and the bees! “Who lays the eggs? Why does the girl need the boy? Which is more important, Oma, a boy or a girl?” I didn’t expect all that when I went for a walk in the woods!

I will celebrate long conversations with friends, conversations that enlarge my understanding of the world, conversations where my inner self can safely come out and say what I believe. I will celebrate the wholeness of inner and outer selves matching and  being real, and books like Parker Palmer’s A Hidden Wholeness that remind me of that.

I will celebrate the power of the little action which may lead to big things. Bhutan had a vision way back in 1975: could they be a country that didn’t buy into rampant development? They’ve been struggling to work out their future in a balanced way, never dreaming that their little example would someday be on the world stage.

And I will celebrate the colour green.  On St. Patrick’s Day, I found our little tree by the river redecorated in green to honour that saint. I celebrate people who secretly add a little joy note to our days by doing such things.

Our little tree in the woods: at Christmas, it was decorated with ornaments; at New Year's with a party hat and streamers. I can't wait to see what it will look like at Easter.
I celebrate green because in my walks in the woods I feel calmed and at peace, and hear the Creator whispering all around me. And I celebrate green because it is the colour of growth and change and learning – activities that make me ... well ... happy!

 Last week, I attended a workshop where I learned how to add more bits of green to my tree pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes. I Want to be happy every day. Some days it is difficult.