Monday, November 15, 2010

Happiest place

Last week Good Morning America had a segment on the "happiest places on earth". An expert who had done studies on this subject (way too complicated to go into here but logical nonetheless), had found the four places on earth where the people were the most satisfied and content. East Hampton was not among them.

Interestingly enough, the places they found where people were most content were not necessarily places where people had the most money or possessions - in fact some were very poor areas of the world. They found that people were happiest when they had things that cost no money at all: time with extended family, a religious faith, and long vacations every year.

I found this interesting for a couple reasons. Earlier in my life I'd assumed if I had enough money to pay my bills and save for retirement I'd be happy. Not necessarily true. The issues of family and faith I fully understand because those are the things that give me so much peace and pleasure in my life now. And the vacation thing - well, that's something we can only dream about in America! I've always thought the Europeans had it right and the fact that most of them have at least a month off every year is so right. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? At least a month off to recharge - and see the world? But money - not such a big deal.

For me, East Hampton is the happiest place on earth because most of my family is here and it's the place I love. I find contentment in walking through its familiar lanes and spaces and I enjoy the beauty that it has in every direction. I also love thinking about my ancestors and how they lived here two hundred years ago. Would I be content somewhere else? Probably. Because at the end of the day I really think contentment starts inside each of us and we can take it with us wherever we are. It's as much a choice as anything, with the exception of health issues that can't be controlled. But even then, we choose how we're going to face adversity and that's what makes all the difference in terms of our happiness quotient!


Ben said...

Barbara you can be content but not happy. I'm content to live where I do because of economic necessity. If I could live in East Hampton I would. Would I be happy ? I can't answer that question. East Hampton is just a memory to me now and memories can only be relived in the mind.I agree with you about money though. It is not so important to me.

Downhook said...

An interesting thought - the difference between happiness and contentment. Thanks!

Kathleen said...

Yes, there is definitely a difference between contentment and happiness...I'm so blessed to say that I'm both,most of the time. That is my 'happiest place'. I have the same feelings about EH as you do, Barbara, concerning my ancestry and memories, but we were no longer content to be there because of all the changes, the expenses and crowds which exist in the area.