This little smiley face is my personal trademark. Whenever I write letters or sign cards to family or friends, unless it's a sad letter, you'll find this little happy face. If it's a super special letter, you may even get the smiley face twins. Drawing this little face makes me happy. I don't know why.
According to a new book called The Geography of Bliss, if you live in Switzerland, you're probably way more happy than if you live in Moldova. I haven't read the book yet, but recently I listened to the author, Eric Weiner, being interviewed by Diane Rehm on NPR. It was a really interesting interview and I'd like to read the book.
A New York Times book review says
"Weiner is best in lowly Moldova, one of several post-Soviet nations dumped at the bottom of the happiness heap. Without an “abiding faith or culture on which to rely,” Moldovans, Weiner writes, harbor a superstition that is “free-floating, anchored to nothing but the cloud of pessimism that hovers over this sad land.” Hopping aboard a crowded bus, he observes, “Every face is frozen in an expression that is simultaneously vacant” and vaguely teed off — “an expression I came to identify as the Moldovan Scowl.”"
During the radio interview, author Eric Weiner says that he went to ten countries hoping to find happiness and discovered why some places are happier than others. Some things seemed fairly obvious. Long commutes, over half an hour, make you unhappy. And then one of my favorite findings - chocolate really does make you happy! These are two of the reasons that Switzerland ranks high on the happiness list. Yes, there is an actual list! Apparently in Switzerland the trains run on time. There is an absence of misery. They eat a lot of chocolate. And while the Swiss are a very wealthy, in their country they do not provoke envy in others.
I found that quite interesting, because here in the United States, there is a constant comparison to others and even to ourselves. It seems that people are always thinking about how someone else has more money or weighs less. Even how we ourselves may have had more last year. There is the constant striving, which never seems to end. Over the holidays, every other newspaper article seemed to be about whether Americans were spending more or less than this time last year. Can't we ever just be content with what is now and have it not matter if it's more or less than a time in the past or future? And ironically we Americans are constantly pursuing happiness and then putting it just outside of our own reach. Next year's resolution.
Now I also focused on the chocolate part and found this study that mentions it too. If the T really wants to make Boston commuters happy, maybe they should give us chocolate when the trains are running late and sitting in the tunnels for no apparent reason. I know it's a dream, but it makes me happy. I think I'll bring my own chocolate.
One of the things that I found most interesting was learning that there is an actual World Database of Happiness. It's in the Netherlands, which I think may have a lot of chocolate too. It's also kind of strange seeing the list of happiest countries and then seeing sad Moldova on the bottom of the list. I'm not quite sure who sponsors this website. It appears to be a private entity and not actually Moldova, but someone is embracing the rank as unhappiest and making it work for them. Making lemonade with lemons I guess.
*Updated* And know what else makes me happy? When people link to my posts and create whole new conversations! Check out this post by Mes Deux Cents!
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