Finding Happiness

María Victoria Heredia Reyes
María Victoria Heredia Reyes

We live in a visual age – and so the rise of infographics.

Lots of interesting things to reflect upon in this infographic on happiness.







  1. Last night I watched a panel discussion on global “turning points,” or places which will strongly influence geopolitics in the coming year. These are areas of growing crises: huge population shifts caused by refugees in Europe, oil prices driven by the Saudis continuing to oversupply world need, Isis growing in strength and influence.

    It’s not good news and it’s starting to affect our lives in safe haven Canada: food prices are starting to rise; anything we want from the U.S., including vacations, is now far more expensive to access. We are in the shadow of U.S. politics which have taken a decidedly bizarre turn in the past few years. While we like to stay out of military involvement, it’s beginning to escalate and we may not have the option to stay in this place of reserve.

    And for the long term I cannot see around the strong prospects that my kids, my grandkids and their kids will never achieve the level of economic security our generation has. The nature of work is changing. The locus of wealth continues to get more concentrated. And global warming, presaged in the film Interstellar, may lead us to fewer and fewer food options, fewer economic options, and fewer options for creating happiness.

    So at the age of—how old am I now? Oh yeah, 73! Where am I with respect to “happiness?”

    For a long time I was all about “making a difference,” by being a psychologist who did everything from individual and family therapy, to training groups in native communities, to television and radio shows meant to be educational. After retiring, I still did some meaningful projects about community development, such as helping in the Green campaign for Jane Sterk, assisting in Lisa Helps’ campaign, organizing a group to develop socially relevant projects, etc. But most of my attention is focused on providing fun and entertainment for people and doing my community-building at Oak Bay United Church through being an animator of fun.

    So my thinking now is that I am not so much motivated to save the planet as I am to making the planet a place worth saving. So I scrupulously avoid being on boards or undertaking other people’s projects or doing anything that doesn’t seem like fun. In other words doing things that make me happy.

    So what`s the point?

    I believe we have to choose a path that helps us to be happy. As a Buddhist I would say that at the root of much unhappiness is our attachments to ideas, thoughts, and things that take us away from engaging in compassionate, joyful times with others. And at the same time, we need to recognize to that a large extent we choose the kind of life that makes us happy, or not.

    People who have been brutalized in Syria and who are now coming here were in a place where it was pretty hard to be happy, but they definitely saw their lives and the lives of their families to be the source of deep happiness, enough that they were prepared to take risks to get out of Syria and come here. Look at them! Of course it`s hard to get above such compelling circumstances and feel happiness and joy, but they did it.

    I also believe that gratitude is another aspect of feeling happy. Growing older sometimes seems like a rapid trip towards a cliff someplace. That`s when I forget where I am now, what I am doing and creating. I`m grateful for for my life and I need to keep reminding myself to be in that place and to own it.

    One last point. I choose to believe that what I do makes a difference in my corner of the world and I am happy about that. But I see that as a positive after-effect of what I am doing to be responsible to myself and my happiness.

    1. Great comment Jim, even though the first three paragraphs were sobering (as they should be). Thanks for taking the time. And I like this very much – “I am not so much motivated to save the planet as I am to making the planet a place worth saving.”

      I find myself thinking about joy a great deal lately. In one of those curious twists of life I ran across a book – not yet read – by Marie Kendo that does not look to be philosophically deep but was interesting for its origin. Kendo basically is a home organizer from Japan and her main criteria for sorting through things is to ask people to hold an item and ponder the question: Does this bring you joy? If not, it is recycled or thrown out. Something about this appeals to me. 🙂
      “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo

  2. Hmm…I like the part about wiring…I have often wondered why I am generally happy while still observing the things that Jim mentions…pondered about being shallow or that there was something wrong with me that I don’t become unhappy even while I am observing and experiencing the tribulations in the world. It does sometimes feel like I am hardwired for joy. Depending on the day this feels like a blessing or a curse…

  3. WOW! Information overload!!! It reminds me of teaching in the 60s and 70s and what we called the Sesame Street factor I.e. has to be loud and lots of action to get attention!!! This is similar, though I am sure the author got a lot out of it himself as he drew all of the connections. Definitely NOT for those who react to too much visual stimulation. But obviously Infographics is a part of the new means of conveying ideas!

    I truly enjoyed reading Jim’s blog (words to convey meaning!)
    …”root of our unhappiness is attachments to ideas, thoughts and things that take us away from engaging in compassionate joyful times with others”
    How fortunate and what a blessing to have this kind of joyful connection with each other! Happiness is sharing ideas and meanderings! Thank you Keith for beginning the Blog.

  4. I loved the ‘info-graphic’ despite not usually considering myself a highly visual person, though I would certainly dispute some of the conclusions (especially the facile ones around mothers, single parents and happiness). Surely happiness is more than merely momentary life-satisfaction. Having been both a single parent and a mother (in fact, although my children are grown, I am still a mother) I can easily relate to the (mostly not happiness-producing) effects of poverty, stress and relatively unsupported child-rearing, yet the community and relationships built and formed out of those times continues to be important to my ongoing ‘happiness quotient’. I do so agree with Jim about gratitude and the part it plays in the happiness I experience and see in others. There is a lot of humour, joy, and just a sense of getting on with life that comes out of an attitude of gratitude, and I see it daily in my work at Our Place. The most happy, joyful and resilient people are not always those with the easiest pasts or most promising looking futures, but the ones who are mindful of gratitude, the ones like my friend Alex, who said at a memorial on Thursday, “It’s hard for some people to let others know how they are feeling and what they need. So I pray for everybody, every day. Especially those people, because I remember the people that prayed for me.” Of all the fine things said at the memorial for a gentle, kind man, loved by so many of us, those were the words that brought me to tears. Such gratitude produces not only happiness but a profound and abiding joy. The knowledge that good people are working together on the sometimes-overwhelming myriad of ecological, economic, social and global problems in our world is a cause for gratitude and joy for me, something I could not always say, growing up angry, bitter and cynical. Thanks for the thoughts…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: