Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
Happiness is more than doing fun things. It’s about doing meaningful things. Maxine Lagace
People who live in Ontario and Atlantic Canada are not as happy as the rest of Canada. British Columbia and Quebec are the happiest provinces; Vancouver and Toronto are Canada’s two unhappiest cities.
The reason given for Toronto and Vancouver’s unhappiness is:
Traffic congestion. Waiting in traffic is not likely to increase one’s happiness quotient.
Housing stress: Where will we live and will we still be able to eat causes stress.
High-density unhappiness: People in crowded urban neighborhoods are physically living close together but they don’t necessarily have good social networks.
The reason why people are unhappy in many cases is probably because of their unmet expectations. Maybe we moved to a big city for the opportunity and often the opportunity we find is not necessarily what we were looking for. If we get a better job the cost of living is so much higher we don’t feel better off. We are so busy working we don’t have time to create close social connections.
We are the happiest it seems after age fifty-five. We’ve made peace with the fact we will not be the rising star of whatever we’d hoped for. We’ve built a life, found a partner or made peace with the idea we won’t have one. A lot of our happiness is not because our life is terrible it is the unmet expectations that make us unhappy.
Maybe we thought we would move to a big city and… What was the and… At one of the Toastmasters meetings, a member said he moved from a small city of six million to Shanghai where there was “opportunity”. He since moved on to the greater Toronto area for “opportunity”.
It is hard to swallow that the secret to happiness in life and our relationships are low expectations. It seems it isn’t how well things are going, but whether they are going better or worse than expected.
To feel big and contented, look down more gratefully and up less longingly. To feel small but ambitious look down less gratefully and up more longingly. This is our choice would we rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in an ocean? When we move to big cities we probably hoped to become a big fish in the ocean and are unhappy when we are still small fish.
Everyone wants happiness. No one wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain. Unknown
After age fifty-five when we start to make peace with who we are and what we’ve accomplished, we become happier. Life is short starts to become a reality, and we are still here. We count our blessings and hopefully they are many, we count our regrets and hopefully, they are few. Life takes on a sweetness because we can’t take life for granted quite as much. A few friends have already been cut down in the prime of their life, and they seemed as healthy and active as us.
Do higher incomes, lower stress, and home ownership lead to greater happiness? It perhaps isn’t how high the income but as Charles Dickens said, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings, and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
Managing our life, expectations, finances, attitude, and relationships affect our happiness.
We can be grateful for what we have. Being grateful increases our happiness quotient. Learning when to hold on and when to let go increases our happiness and lessens our stress. Sometimes it is what it is, and we have to be okay with that.
We can choose to stay connected with family, friends, and develop new connections with people through religious or other groups. Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster. We can focus our interactions with positive people, and minimize our interactions with negative people. Volunteering is a way to boost happiness by providing a sense of purpose.
If we aren’t as happy as we want to be, what can we tweak in our life to bring more happiness into it? We choose the changes we want to bring into our life. If we don’t make the changes our life calls out for, who do we think will?
Happiness is a place between too much and too little. Finnish Proverb
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