Imagine you are the director of a local non-profit and you want to celebrate your organization’s thirty-year anniversary. What would you do? Invite all the local elected officials to a community party with free cake and ice cream? Take out a full page ad in the newspaper? Good ideas, but One Community Health, a local non-profit health center in The Dalles, stepped outside the box and came up with a unique and positive way to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. They created Gorge Happiness: a month of activities in October each designed to make for a healthier community based on the science of happiness.
It’s not hard to believe that happiness is good for your health. But there is actual evidence to show that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers.
But could we just be born happy? Well, there is some research that shows 50% of our happiness is genetic, and 10% is environmental. But the other 40% we can control by consciously nurturing habits which can improve our happiness.
Those habits begin with gratitude: being grateful for the blessings, both large and small, in our lives. Start by listing three things each day for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as being thankful for a good night’s sleep; or for your neighbor who keeps an eye on you. What’s important is recognizing the many blessings even when life events seem to be careening down the street out of your control; and it’s so easy, and understandable, to start your own “woe is me” pity party.
Another habit to cultivate is expressing acts of kindness: Picking up that piece of trash, visiting a friend in the hospital, or keeping an eye on your neighbor. And if you aren’t already volunteering, find an opportunity even if it is only a few hours a week.
And the last habit I’ll mention is creating moments of silence. You might call it prayer or meditation, but sit silently for as little as five minutes each day. No television or radio. Just sit and observe the thoughts in your head; the different sensations around you – the sounds, the smells. And if your mind wonders, don’t worry. Just acknowledge it and pull your mind back into observing and listening to what is around you.
Gorge Happiness Month will be over soon, but the search for happiness is a lifelong journey. You can start now by incorporating these three habits in your daily routine: the habit of gratitude, acts of kindness and moments of silence - which can improve your health and well-being. You can find out more about Gorge Happiness Month and the benefits of happiness at the website: www.Gorgehappiness.org.
Next week we start a new month; and a new time for the Tuesday Night Music at the Center. With the night skies visiting us sooner, music will start at 6:30 - a half hour earlier and end at 8:30 or whenever the last couple leaves the dance floor. And once again we’re back at the top of the dance card with Andre, KC and Joe performing on November 1st. And starting when? 6:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are appreciated.
Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #4 “You take more things in stride.” After enduring a full life of experiences, we learn to separate what is truly important from all the small stuff cluttering our lives.
The name of the television show starring John Steed and his partner Emma Peel was The Avengers. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Marcia Lacock and Jim Ayres.)
William Powell and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora Charles in the movie version of The Thin Man. But for this week’s “Remember When” question who played Nick Charles in The Thin Man television series that aired Friday evenings on NBC for two seasons from 1957–1959? Email your answer to email@example.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a picture of the 1960’s “Rat Pack” performing at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Well, it’s been another week, learning there is a simple wisdom in saying “I don’t know”. Until we meet again, if you point your finger, make sure your hands are clean.
"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh