Cecile Andrews, Phinney Ridge resident and author of “Less Is More,” “Slow Is Beautiful” and “Circle of Simplicity,” is organizing a “community happiness circle” on Thursday nights at the Green Bean Coffeehouse.
We all know that happiness is our basic goal in life. The problem is that we’re confused about what will make us happy. We think that being rich or famous will do it, so we focus on ambition and achievement. But the research is clear: After a certain point, more money does not make us happier. In fact, money can get in the way of happiness because the pursuit of money can undermine caring and social ties — the true determinants of happiness. Money becomes more important than relationships and destroys happiness.
So our first step is to begin to build community. We need to get to know our neighbors and join with them on projects to improve our lives because we’re also happier when we find a way to contribute to society. Most of us search for our calling, something that brings us energy and enthusiasm and makes a difference.
Finally, we need a new orientation toward life. Our Puritan heritage has influenced us to focus on work and getting ahead, and we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way. We look around and all we see makes us bitter and angry. Instead of conversing, we rant and rave about how horrible everything is. We need to learn to approach life with joie de vivre, the French word for “joy of living.” We need to learn how to cultivate the emotions that give us energy and joy. Yes, there’s a lot that needs fixing, but we need to begin to focus on positive ways to change things.
The Community Happiness Circle meets from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays at the Green Bean Coffeehouse, 8533 Greenwood Ave. N., through April 14. For more information, contact Cecile at firstname.lastname@example.org.