I was perusing the net the other day and came across this:
It’s an article about a study that ranks the happiest countries in the world using the following survey questions:
“Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?" And, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"
Let’s just say that the US didn’t quite crack the top ten. But you know what? Colombia and Puerto Rico did.
This got me thinking about what, in fact, makes us happy. More to the point, what, exactly, does a person really need to be happy? This is such a subjective question, particularly in the realm of voluntary simplicity. Not everyone gets the same kind of joy from the same activities or life amenities. My mom, for example, is perfectly happy lounging around at home, watching TV, and talking to her girlfriends on the phone. For her, leaving the house is a chore that is done only when absolutely necessary. On the other hand, I have a very good friend who LOVES to sail. I suspect that he would be perfectly happy living on a sailboat, sailing from port to port, without the comforts of a house, car, etc…
So, the question presents itself: What are the bare essential of MY happiness? To put it differently, what are the things that I would need to have access to so that I could be in a position to be happy, whatever happiness means?
Here is a bare-bones list that I came up with on the fly.
*Affordable health care (medical and dental)
*Air Conditioning (definitely NOT a heat/humidity person)
*Comfortable restful sleep (i.e., a bed, couch, other surface that would allow me to have a good, full, night of sleep)
*Access to the internet
*Basic set of clothes for all types of climate/conditions (nothing fancy, so long as it is durable and well-made)
*Long-term travel necessities (backpack, sleeping bag, etc…)
*Bicycle (plus helmet)
*Listening to music (off an Ipod/PDA/laptop)
*Going to the movies
*Renting movies (which I can happily watch on my laptop)
*Occasional lunches/dinners/nights out with friends (nothing fancy)
*Access to books (buy used on Amazon; library; friends)
*Travel (cheap, cheap, cheap!)
*Travel-related activities (hiking, access to museums, access to historical sites etc…)
*Occasional nice dinner out
I think I may just use this list as a guidepost as I start to get rid of stuff later this month.