There are some essentials which are things. Maybe things could make us happier if we saw them differently.
Either way, an ecology of happiness starts with a consideration of where happiness really comes from, what it means.
Chances are, you won’t be happy if you lack water to drink and food to eat, clothes and shelter to protect against the elements, things that you think everyone else has.
Once, as with the latter, you get away from the basics, the things that really matter are not things at all. What matters is action for happiness. (There’s a reason that new initiative is called just that.)
What makes happy seems to be, not the amount of money, let alone of things, but…
- to be
- to do
- to have (enough)
- to work
- to handle and feel
- to be of effect
- to move
- to risk
- to focus
- to get things done
- to grow and be good
- to relate
- to live for something
There are still wide-ranging discussions, of course.
Is there really no more relationship between income and happiness after a certain amount of income, for example?
Or, do people just answer questions about their happiness in certain ways, because they feel pressured to do so (knowingly or not)?
How to deal with different cultural/social backgrounds is even more of a question:
When you are stuck with too many obligations pouring in through email and twitter, facebook and skype, a bucolic life with your hands to the soil may look promising – whereas the small-scale farmer may long for a cubicle in an air-conditioned office, surrounded by all those modern amenities.
There are good points and misunderstandings to both perspectives…
At the same time, however, research has been finding that there are a few things which typically contribute to happiness.
Some of them are pretty straightforward.
Many are rather straightforward, but difficult to get started on.
A few observations are rather counter-intuitive.
Many of these suggestions have been made before. None of them entail simply wishing that things were as you want them to be.
No matter what “The Secret” is trying to sell you, the universe is not a McDonald’s drive-thru.
In keeping with the theme of ecology, there will be more of a focus on how these actions for happiness connect with life as part of Earth, naturally and culturally, regionally and globally, however.
These linkages have, except where it came to “biophilia” and when it comes to environmental responsibility, not been much of a matter – but where, if not within Earth, shall we find our happiness?