Happy? Hope so

Featured image: One happy winter robin, welcoming spring.

Cornwall Cogitation 12/190 Saturday 23 March 2019   Happiness is a feeling of gladness, a response to something causing joy or good fortune. Happy-go-lucky children, for instance, show us a carefree and cheerful world.

Wednesday was World Happiness Day.

National happiness rankings on a scale of 1-10.

Happiness can be ranked nation by nation. Besides a feeling, happiness is a fact that can be measured. Wednesday marked the seventh annual United Nations Day of Happiness, complete with the release of the UN World Happiness Report, country by country.

The UN measured global satisfaction in six areas:

  • GDP per capita
  • Healthy life expectancy
  • The freedom to make life choices
  • Social support
  • Generosity
  • Perception of corruption

The UK rose four points to 15th in world rankings of satisfaction. Britons were the fourth most generous people on the planet, with 72 percent donating to charity each month. Out of a possible measure of 10, the UK had an average score of 7.05.

The US dropped in the rankings to 19th happiest nation on Earth. One report attributes the drop to how addictions are causing unhappiness and depression.

The report noted that more than 170 people are estimated to die from overdoses every day in the US, linked to opioids.

Meik Wiking, head of the Happiness Research Institution in Copenhagen, quoted by Cahal Milmo in i, the Independent daily newspaper, said, The worldwide tendency of a considerable decline in average happiness, despite the general growth in GDP per capita, is proof that measuring happiness and life satisfaction in terms of economic wealth alone is not at all sufficient.”

The top 10 happiest countries, in order, are Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, and Austria. Australia and Costa Rico are 11th and 12th.

Sights that made me happy this week

Coach trip to Port Isaac and Padstow

Walked a short distance into Port Isaac via the South West Coast Path, during a day out.
Fans of the Doc Martin TV series will recognize the front of this house as the doctor’s surgery. Interior scenes are shot elsewhere.

Padstow

Cream tea at Cheery Trees Coffee House, Padstow. Scone, strawberry jam, clotted (unsweetened) cream. Mmm!

Round robin walk to the Watermill, Lelant, for lunch

 

Persistent issues that affect happiness

At the back of our minds are pressing and overlapping social issues such as poverty, war, climate change and discrimination. How can we address such massive global challenges for our own and the world’s benefit?

Top of mind, we wonder why some leaders continue to discredit climate science.

We can begin by saying thank you to those who work at all levels, local, regional and international, to alleviate extreme adversity caused by natural and human-caused disasters, not dismissing links between the two.

We can do our part to understand the bigger picture and to act in support of a better world. One thing we must come to terms with is the non-normal nature of our world where burying out heads in the sand gets us nowhere.

I’ve saved an article “Our Brains Can’t Handle the Trump Era,” by Jennifer Senior in The New York Times (10 February).   A few tidbits: The human brain, she wrote, “was not engineered to process the volume of information we’re getting, and at a rate we’re getting it.” She added, “They’re not designed to. Or, anyway, mine isn’t.”

Further: “When the world’s coming at you in great clouds of 280-character Frisbees, naturally it’s tempting to vanish into the forest dark of your own mind.”

Of President Trump, she said, “I think our president’s attention span is genuinely scattershot.”

Senior concluded, “Would that we all could return to the rhythms of a more civilized time, when we weren’t scanning the savanna for mortal threats every 30 seconds. It seems such an unfathomable luxury–almost as unfathomable as the Russians manipulating our elections, as a child billionaire selling our privacy down the river, as the Trump presidency itself.”

Thanks, children and youth

Too much of the obvious truth at hand locally and globally is deliberately ignored, avoided, put aside. Thanks to the children in the now international movement who are taking climate warming by the horns and “striking” a day now and again from school. They want politicians to address climate change with a greater urgency.

On a similar front, pupils from St Ives School have made it a mission to tackle the problem of marine plastics. They took their “Be Inspired” campaign to London for the Industrial Strategy Fair, one of only 14 schools from across the country invited to take part.

Katherine Mathieson, chief executive of the British Science Association, quoted in The Cornishman, said, “As this terrific project from St Ives School demonstrates, today’s students across the UK have the creativity to come up with the new products, ideas, original research and campaign concepts to shape what sort of society we will live in in the future.”

One thing the students at St Ives School can yet do is come up with a brilliant solution to the litter along the walkways home from school.

Hope is alive.

 

More of what made me happy

Truro to Malpas, St Clement, back to Truro

This was our walk on Friday, with train to Truro, coming in at 8 miles on foot home to home.

Heron Inn, Malpas. Fine, fresh, a favourite.

 

St Clement Church “has provided a warm welcome and a spiritual haven for more than 800 years,” notes the church’s flyer. The church is working on ways to share this special place more effectively with the community and the wider reach of visitors.

We ended Friday with Evensong at Truro Cathedral. Shown on the left, with the green-roofed tower, is St Mary’s parish church incorporated into the cathedral. Following Evensong we picked up a sandwich to eat on the train home, a 30-minute ride to St Erth and then a wait for the less than 10-minute branch line to Carbis Bay.  Home and happy.

-John

6 thoughts on “Happy? Hope so

  1. John: Such wonderful photos again this week. Thanks! I’m reading Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher, and she quotes research indicating that people report the peak of happiness to be toward the end of life. For women in the UK, it’s ages 65-79.

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    1. Thanks, Marlene. Every single bit that points to the peak of happiness is welcome in our time of advancing years, including poet Browning’s words that the last of life is the best, what came before prepared us for.

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  2. Not surprising that the top of the UN’s ranking of the happiest countries in the world are all Socialist! Enjoy the winter Robins and your Spring walks.

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    1. So much to analyze in what makes for a nation’s happiness. Let’s get our heads together this summer to celebrate the state of happiness. Marty might even wear her Native American T-shirt, “Don’t Worry, Be Hopi.”

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  3. To: John & Marty Bender (Happyness Ambassadors to the world!)

    Receiving your “Its About Now” regular blog is always a happiness day at our house. Thank you so much.

    Hoping that when you were in Doc Martin’s neighborhood some of your happiness rubbed off on the doc.!

    We are happy to see signs of spring showing up in so many ways.

    Stay Happy. Regards, Ray & Marianne.

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