"How we react to works of art depends on who we are, where we are standing and when we encounter them." -- Margaret MacMillan, "War: How Conflict Shaped Us"

Monday, October 5, 2015

Are You Happy Where You Are?

     I've written a few posts on happiness, the most recent one this past August called  How to Be (Truly) Happy. But the search for happiness comes in many forms, both at home and abroad, both inside ourselves and out in the world. 

     Anyone who's followed Laura Lee's blog knows that she recently moved into her new dream house in the Colorado foothills, Now she's making new friends, seeing new places, and enjoying her new town of La Veta. She is also enjoying some wonderful vistas, so if you want to see some fantastic scenery, take a look over at October in Southern Colorado. And if you have a little extra time, wander down to see the golden aspens, the golden clouds, and the gold up on Cripple Creek.

Colorado Rocky Mountain High
     By contrast. Meryl Baer likes the ocean, not the mountains. A few years ago she and her husband retired from Pennsylvania to the Jersey Shore. But waiting and worrying about another major storm approaching from the south has forced her to re-evaluate living on the edge of the Atlantic.

     So watching the waves crash up onto the beach, she wonders: Does she stay? Does she relocate? Where in the world would she go? Perhaps you want to blow over to her site and give her some advice at Shorely the Best.

      Meanwhile, our group's newcomer, Linda Myers, takes a different approach by going in search of happiness in strange and foreign places. Many of you know her blog Thoughts from a Bag Lady In Waiting, and probably are aware that she likes to travel. She recently returned from a trip to Eastern Europe and wrote a post called Reflections on Our Trip, thinking about what she learned from her journey, both tangible and intangible.

      Reflecting on her travels helps her clarify what's important to her -- learning the history of a place, experiencing the sublime feelings of being close to the water, and then the more practical things like if you walk five to seven miles a day you can eat gelato whenever you want and still fit into your clothes, and if you want to be happy on the road, be kind to your feet, especially if you're walking on cobblestones.

     And keeping on that more practical note, none of us would be happy if our identity was stolen. On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the new credit cards with chips, which are safer because information is stored in a chip and you need to enter a PIN to complete the transaction. For the full story slide your mouse or keypad over to Do You Have a Credit Card with a Chip?

     You might also want to check out her post on how T-Mobile customer accounts have been hacked through their credit reporting agency. All the more reason to be careful, whenever you try to communicate over the cables or the airwaves.

     Finally, in 10 Signs of Sustainable Happiness Kathy Gottberg shows how we all want to be happy internally, by practicing gratitude, staying healthy, feeling competent, being loved. But she goes on to point out, “In order to have an experience of real happiness and well-being that is enduring and sustainable, it must extend out to other people and the world around you."

     In other words, it's not enough to achieve happiness for ourselves alone. Perhaps it's not even possible, for true happiness involves other people and the meaning they bring to our lives.

      In another post called Carl Jung and the Art of Aging Well, Gottberg tells us what the great psychologist discovered about happiness and the aging process. “A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs,” wrote Jung. “The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.”

     So for Jung, as for all of us, the aging process is not merely one of inescapable decline of body, mind and relevancy. It is, instead, a time of progressive refinement of what is essential in life. And in that, we can all find true happiness.


Anonymous said...

People think they can find happiness in Hawaii, because it is paradise. But, happiness comes from having good relationships with loved ones no matter where you reside.

stephen Hayes said...

I love Jung's thoughts on aging.

DJan said...

Years ago I studied Jung extensively and found a spirit who knew how to experience all of life's journey, from morning to evening, exquisitely. Thank you for this reminder and these four fine bloggers. :-)

Laura Lee Carter said...

One thing I have learned from pursuing my own happiness/contentment journey, paradise is personal, very personal. I can certainly see why most would not want to live the relatively isolated life we live in rural Colorado. But since moving here, we have discovered that we cannot stand cities anymore!
Hurrah for all of our uniqueness and differences!

Tabor said...

Having lived near the ocean a good chunk of my life, I have no desire to be on the shore. I know how devastating those storms can be. But with all the fires, I do not want to live in the woods, either. Living over a 1,000 feet from the river is perfect for me.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I also love Jung's concept of aging and agree that happiness is personal and a conscious decision. We can be happy anywhere and it's constantly evolving. It can be present even when life isn't perfect.

Five years ago, my husband and I left Los Angeles for an active adult community in rural Arizona. The first year or two, we were delighted. Neighbors were in and out of each other's homes. We loved our new house. We celebrated retirement and our liberation from commuting in hideous L.A. traffic. Then reality began to settle in. Many of the early friendships were superficial and dwindled with time. We found that most people we encountered here held views and some values quite different from ours and while we like diversity of thought, it has felt lonely in many ways. Most of the people we did feel close ties with here have moved or are in the process of moving out of the community. We miss having close friends here. The close friends we do have are still in Los Angeles or are college friends in Chicago or Hawaii.

Would we move here again? No, absolutely not! It was an expensive mistake that we can't afford to correct with another move.

But are we happy? Yes!!

We still love our house and the roads free of traffic and the lovely sunsets and warm velvet nights. And somehow, though life isn't perfect here, it has come to feel like home. Two weeks ago, I drove alone to L.A. to visit with friends and had a wonderful time. But, as I drove up the main street of our community at the end of my trip back, I had a rush of joy and of comfort, feeling that I was home.

Barbara Torris said...

Oh how I loved this post. Linda Meyers is a blogging friend and we meet in Tucson a couple of times each winter. My father always told my Mom that you could not live on the view. As I grow older I think he missed the point. Beauty nurtures the soul. That is as important as anything I can think of today.

Wisewebwoman said...

Great post Tom replete with links which I will investigate given a spot of time :)

Love what Jung has to say.


Rosaria Williams said...

Your last paragraph sums it all up nicely, thank you.

Diane Dahli said...

Longevity can be viewed as simply tacking on many years to an already long life. Or it can be viewed as having true meaning and purpose. That's the hard part!

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Sally Wessely said...

Aging is an interesting concept because for some reason, we don't think about it until we are 60 or so. In reality, we start aging the day we are born. Aging is a gift. It is also a curse sometimes when we see the effects on the body. I do agree with what Jung says about the progressive refinement of what is essential in life. For me, it is freeing to get down to the essentials. Often, I find myself complicating my life by forgetting this truth. Thanks for the reminder.

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