According to the U.N.'s annual
World Happiness Report, the happiest people live in Finland. Yet most of the year, Finland has few hours of sunlight and subzero temperatures. Continuing the trend, Norway is second, followed by Denmark and Iceland, which are also dark and cold. The U.S. is #18 (down from # 14 last year.) Yet "the pursuit of happiness" is ingrained in our constitution!
I was intrigued by this report (which I read in the 3/30 edition of
The Week magazine) for two reasons:
Maybe it's because I'm a 2
nd generation Californian, but for me, happiness invokes a nice sunny day.
When time and workload allow, I'm reading
The Geography of Bliss
by Eric Weiner. It's subtitled,
One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
So how can the world's happiest people live where the "sun don't shine" and temps could freeze any sunny disposition? An insight from editor of
The Week, William Falk
: "Much of our happiness flows from our connections to other people, our sense of community and joint purpose. . . Finland, Norway and Denmark are not without problems, but researchers say what sets the happier nations apart is the premium their cultures place on time spent in nature, and in harmonious, intimate contact with friends and family. The Danes even have a word, 'hygge,' that describes these cozy high-quality interactions."
The Geography of Bliss, I read: ..." an important ingredient in the good life, the happy life, is connection to something larger than ourselves, recognizing that we are not mere blips on the cosmic radar screen but part of something much bigger."
I've been stewing on all this over the past week. When I've felt especially happy, I took note. When I was feeling more glum, I also paid attention, and I think I get it now.
- Happiness isn't something we can achieve once and for all. That's why our founders only guaranteed us the "pursuit" of happiness. Happiness is transitory - it depends on external circumstances for most of us and cannot be held captive.
- The community that those in dark climates experience is also available to us in sunny California. I've found my highest happiness quotient when I'm working with my team, or spending quality time with my family, friends or faith community. And I find it when I connect with other business owners and NAWBO members, and when I work with other groups with similar missions.
ironic. I started my business as a solopreneur - feeling the call to launch out on my own to see what I could accomplish myself. I just knew deep down I would be happier launching out on my own than working for (and with) other people. By necessity though, my business added people as it grew.
I didn't understand until now that the happiness I have grown to enjoy isn't because I am an entrepreneur. (What CEO hasn't felt keenly the adage that it's lonely at the top?) The happiness I've experienced is almost in spite of it. My work-related happiness comes when I work with my team to turn in a proposal or achieve our clients' goals together. I've felt it frequently when I connect with other women business owners in a mastermind group and when I've connected women who can help each other solve business challenges.
Working on our local NAWBO chapter board of directors and our statewide NAWBO CA board brings me that connection. So does working with NAWBO members to support the passage of SB 826. And I felt it again this week when I represented NAWBO CA with other statewide groups representing minority-owned small businesses. It is the power of the "high-quality interactions" - as Falk describes them - with others who share a vision for something greater.
Now I really understand the high I feel when I come home from the Propel conference. Where else can I find so many others who are so immediately relatable? Friends and compatriots walking a similar path. I look forward - eagerly, happily - to sharing time with you at Propel. It's just a few days away,
, at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. If you haven't already
, it's not too late. See you there!