Monday, July 07, 2008

In Pursuit of Happiness

What does it mean to be truly happy . . I think I’m happy. . .I smile occasionally, I value my friends and family. I talk to my daughter often, hug my son when I can . .tickle my dog. I appreciate the weather, I generally am content with things. I’m not barefoot and homeless . . I’m fatter than I should be and as healthy as a horse apart from creaky knees.

Not surprisingly, and in the name of marketing research, I subscribe to a number of websites and newsletters which tell us how to be happy. Mainly because our style of financial planning means also helping clients to understand what makes them happy . . . what will they do with all this money they’re accruing? How will they spend all the time they’ll have available in retirement . . . so we also focus on their happiness, lifestyle goals and the likes. Invariably your soon-to-be-retiree has three goals:

Play golf

Never known a truly happy golfer, they always have a bad round

Play bowls

Now this might be fun one or two days a week
but any more than that and I'd lose my marbles!


Photo put in for my nephew Jimmy who is in Pamplona running with the bulls!
Travel would defo make me happy but I can't do it all year round!

There are more but these are definitely the predominant three. I don't mean to berate these, especially if you can do them in combination but seriously, can you play bowls or golf 24/7? Can you spend the rest of your life as a grey nomad towing the caravan around the Pacific Highway, holding up traffic? There has to be more to achieving happiness than slicing a tiny plastic ball around 18 holes, playing marbles for grownups and singing along on the blue rinse bus!

As part of the research I do for economic commentaries, newsletters, general interest stuff, I often write about lifestyle issues, particularly for soon-to-be or already retired people. The aim, to make them think about how they will fill their time once they fully retire. Something must be working because our retirees are the busiest people in the world! Then they're also wealthy and have the money to do as they like. Not everyone has that option but do we need to spend to be happy?

Seriously now, I want you to think, apart from those tremendous milestones that make us exceedingly happy, such a falling in love or raising a family . . . what makes you truly happy?

I mean, I just look at the faces of my children whether on a web cam or focused on a TV and think I’ve done something very clever . . that makes an ordinary person like me very happy!

I look at my stupid dog wiggling with a stick in it's mouth and threatening another cruciate injury when I walk through the door at night because she’s pleased to see me. I am happy snooping around with a camera, a full battery and a sunny day even when there’s nothing particular to photograph, there’s always something of interest. I’m happy under a doona on a rainy day watching science fiction DVD’s in surround sound. I’m happy having a long lunch in the sunshine with friends or family. I'm happy when my children are home, sleeping, safe . . . I’m happy when my pancakes look like the ones you make from a packet. I'm happy when the news is all about celebrity disgrace because that means that nothing too terrible happened today. I’m happy when the cleaning and washing is completed on Saturday and for a couple of blissful hours I can admire my handiwork before it all starts over again! I'm happy on Christmas Morning because all my family are together and I receive thoughtful gifts. I'm happy when I hear Adam blowing raspberries on Amy's stomach or when Clare is laughing and bringing her friends around. I'm happy on the rare occasion that the giggles hit and tears flow down my cheeks in uncontrollable fits of laughter about nothing in particular. I'm often happy in my own company, cooking for one, pampering myself, schlepping around in baggy trakkie daks and a hoodie that should have long ago been given to the Smith Family. I'm happy when bloggers comment or link me, or email or better still visit! I'm happy when a particular young man chimes in on Skype and spends the time of day to talk to me and make me laugh. I'm happy when visitors drop in unexpectedly even if I have just got out of the shower! (I wouldn't recommend it unless you're prepared for the shock!)

So what pushes your buttons? C’mon, spill. . .three things that make you truly, truly happy. . no sooky lala answers now, I already know you love your girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, partners, children . . . what do you do, or will you do to fill your retirement days? You can answer here or link back to your own blogs. I mean think about it, your answers may inspire many who think they can spend the next 20 years driving a golf buggy seven days a week!

And don't forget, 10 July 2008 is UN International Happiness Day . . .not a bad thing in these dire times!


Kath Lockett said...

Top notch post per usual Baino.

Hmmm, top three, excepting Love Chunks and Sapphire:

* The crackle of the alfoil around a good block of chocolate that's just been opened
* Having friendly chats with strangers - like today, in the freezing rain at Monarto zoo.
* Kissing Milly the dog's warm, velvety head

Bimbimbie said...

I often wonder what level of $ = happiness and who says so.

Why are there so many self help books dedicated to making people happy, if it's not to make the author the happiest at the kerching of the cash till.

Whatever happened to being content?

Sooo my top three would have to be
off the top of my head ...

Waking up each day
healthy enough
to eat, drink, sniff, gaze upon chocolate preferably when I have my camera, magazine/book/radio within reach. Smiles to you ... pleased my comment leaves you happy ;)

Thriftcriminal said...

Interesting question.

1) Having a sense of independance and self determination ranks high for me, not doing to badly right now, but the aforementioned dream stems largely from that.

2) Rural environments put me much more at ease than urban environments.

3) Working stuff out. I like to think through promlems and come up with good solutions. Very satisfying.

Gayé Terzioglu said...

What do you mean "smile occasionally"? :p
What makes me happy?
~ To feel loved or at least well-liked (family, friends, co-workers)
~ To feel appreciated for who I am and not whom I should be
~ A sunny day, cool breeze, flowers
~ Being near some kind of body of water (not only in a glass!), lake, ocean, river.
~ Receiving and giving hugs
~ Accomplishing goals I set for myself
~ Doing my job well, whatever it may be.
~ A sleep-in and a sleep-well
~ Listening to a good tune
~ Watching a good movie

Sorry this list can go on and on and it will make me happy not to take too much of space. :)
PS: Great post!

Lottie said...

Making new friends whom I genuinely like.
Arriving in the hotel when away on holidays.
Coming home to a clean fresh house.
(and shoes - I know you said only 3 but this just had to be added)

laughingwolf said...

my simple tastes:

making good friends

good food [to share with above]

creating: animating; writing; etc.

Anonymous said...

Happiness will be defined for me when I can afford a private MiG fighter jet to fly about the gaff.

Anonymous said...

What makes me happy? A really good holiday, going somewhere I've never been before and seeing and doing everything I can. A great meal, excellently cooked from perfect ingredients. And an evening of intelligent, humorous conversation with people I know well and can really relax with.

I still can't imagine retiring, I enjoy the stimulus and social contact of working. I can't imagine what I'd do with myself if I was at home all day. I suspect I'm one of those who would pop my clogs pretty quickly out of boredom and irrelevance.

Anonymous said...

The three things that would push my buttons are...

To be able to enjoy:

1. good health & independence

2. the company of those I love

3. financial security

And if I'm allowed another few it has to be:

4. fresh air

5. good food & wine

6. a pet to stroke

And since no one else has mentioned SEX, I will. I reckon I could be happy without it but if it's on offer, YES please!

Needless, to add Baino...I'm on the mend!

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) said...

Off the top of my head I'd say

1.) Travel - Something about exploring a new place just gives me tingle and it's the best education.

2.) A pint and a good conversation in the local with good friends.

3.) Blogging - I used to think blogs were for geeks. Actually I am a techie gadget geek so maybe they are but it's opened up a whole new way of learning about people perspectives and it gives you the chance to air your own.

Baino said...

Kath, I knew your happiness would somehow involve chocolate. Velvety labrador ears for me!

Bimbimbie, I'm sure the $ would 'enable' some form of happiness even if wealth doesn't 'cause' it. I think I'm 'content' rather than 'happy' but that's fine. (clever to put an extra three in one sentence!)

Thrifty, being independent is high on my list too and I would switch to country life in a heartbeat if I didn't think I might be 'isolated' and good onya for being solution driven. I'm not crash hot at problem solving.

Gaye you cheated but good points and feeling appreciated is so important especially in the workplace - rarely happens. Well come over and have a hug then chicka!

Hello Lottie, newbies always welcome . . .Oooh I love short breaks in posh hotels, white sheets and service! Clare and I used to do it on the odd weekend and shop in the city and swag around in terry robes!

LW ditto the first two . . .you must also love posting! I can't keep up with your site!

Not-so-anonymous . . .Just one? But it's a big one! High ambitions but good luck with that! Don't suppose you'd settle for a remote control model?

Nick retirement scares me a little because I worry about slipping into being very lazy and not achieving much. I think I'd always work/volunteer or do something useful to keep me busy.

Steph, I'm not surprised good health is on the list Financial security is a must because it 'allows' us to do the things that make us happy and relieves the stress of constantly worrying about affording stuff. Sex? Yep . . .interesting that a woman raised that one first! And I'm glad you're feeling better!

Anonymous said...

Now let me think...

1) An unbroken nights sleep.

2) Being hugged

3) Sharing a meal with family or friends.

@Steph - What is Sex?

laughingwolf said...

lol... i do ;)

i post what hits me, at the moment

Baino said...

Quickroute: Missed you there boy must have slipped in while I was commenting. You're the epitome of a love for travel and I agree with the bloggy comment . . yours is a real slice of life in Argentina, I love it. I think there's a little of the geek or voyeur in all of us!

Grannymar, are all we bloggers insomniacs? Gawd, I tossed and turned last night and now my eyes are all puffy and I feel like going back to bed instead of work!

Anonymous said...

@ Grannymar

I dunno... but if you get offered any, don't forget to let Baino know if it pushed the right buttons ;-)

laughingwolf said...

baino my friend, since it would take forever to find my stuff buried the archives, go to my 'pals +' list, down toward the bottom is 'wc', that'll take you 'writer's cafe' [betcha thunk twas 'water closet':P] and you can sample some ;) lol

Anonymous said...

There are moments of pure happiness but on the whole I'm content. Hmmm, difficult to narrow down to three. 1.To be with those I love 2.To be healthy enough to enjoy life 3.To create
My parents haven't been busier since retiring but seem a lot more relaxed in the process :)

Baino said...

Thanks LW I'll go for a browse when I have time.

Anony: To create . . .excellent! I'd like to be the same but haven't quite worked out what to create other than lovely photos but don't get out and about often enough. Good for your parents! I must admit, trying to pin our retiree clients down is the Devil's own job. Good for them for getting out and about. Helps that they're a couple too!

laughingwolf said...

no rush, just can't recall if i made the posts visible to all, or members only...

Unknown said...

Ahhhh GREAT post Baino. Tell you what made me laugh out loud today? Your little 'what's an umbrella' quip over at Grandad's. Nearly spilt me tea!! Others include my incoming airborne greyhound as soon as he hears us stir in the morning (to give us a big smelly wash), sunshine and clean sheets. Easily pleased, moi.

Unknown said...

Oh, and I'm with Steph. You can't beat a good fumble. Hee. :lol:

Anonymous said...

I think happiness, for me, can be boiled down to the setting of a goal, putting forth appropriate energy and effort, and reaching it. My goals aren't all, or even mostly, materialistic or financial: it's things like seeing my children enjoy their summer, creating a solid piece of knitwear, really reaching and interacting with a client in the emergency room, serving a good meal... nothing grand or lofty, just the simple satisfaction of setting and reaching attainable goals.

Anonymous said...

Would like to point out you have created an excellent blog Baino :)

Baino said...

LW: the poems are . .but no animation?

EM: Grandad expects me go gloat when it comes to weather so I deliver! It's true thought I speak to an Irishman most mornings via IM and their summer is worse than our WINTER! Now that's saying something and we had a frost this morning! That's enough about hanky panky! Brings an old widda woman like me to tears!

Kate: I know you're having a bit of a time of it at the moment so it's good that you can see the things that do make you happy and achieving your goals no matter how small is an admirable step forward!

Thanks Anony, and thanks to all the contributors on this one, it's clear that money is not the motivator for happiness even if it does help get some of the 'unhappiness' out of the way. I appreciate your candour!

K.C. said...

Popping over from Gledwood's post. Isn't that one something?

So is yours... This was a great post.. It is really something when we start "thinking about thinking".

Read "Happy for No Reason" and it really hit home. It is a true art to be happy in the moment just because, huh?

1. A great kiss..with my husband
2. Staying up late to watch a movie with my 14 year old that doesn't really want to be seen with his parents right now
3. Coming into a party and seeing folks that I haven't seen in a few years, and feeling those years melt away

Anonymous said...

Actually no, pure ecstasy will be achieved when I get a life sized Dalek that can cook dinner and vaporise my enemies.

Baino said...

Hi KC . .he's a piece of work alright and a constant worry . . but a good heart I think.

I'd forgotten but yes, I'm incredibly proud when my kids feel as comfortable with my peers as they do their own. My daughter even said I'm a better travel companion than some of her friends and took me to a Chemical Brother's concert!

Notsoanony: You're a cack! Just don't get a house with stairs (although they fly in the latest Dr Who!)

Anonymous said...

Too many things make me happy - I too am really content and generally very easy to please.

Here goes on 3:

1. Laughing till you wet your pants! Either my kids, my husband or me!

2. Tennis with the girls - another laughing fest.

3. A great lunch with good friends or family - which seems to include - you guessed it - laughter

So I guess as long as there's laughter involved I'm happy!

laughingwolf said...

no animations... yet

just the ones i made in film school, years ago... i no longer have em :(