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Taking pleasure in ordinary experiences
Old 08-31-2014, 09:09 AM   #1
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Taking pleasure in ordinary experiences

Interesting article in today's NYT about research on what brings happiness.

"Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But what the pair found again and again was that the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer."

Link to article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/yo...s-of-life.html

Link to referenced research report:
http://faculty.tuck.dartmouth.edu/im...r_JCR_2014.pdf

omni
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:46 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting the nyt's article. It was interesting. I'm not as old as the parents profiled, but I've found as I get older the simple things ARE what give me happiness. Walking the dog in the neighborhood or at the beach. Puttering in the garden. Cooking food from scratch.... These all make me content.... happy...
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Old 08-31-2014, 12:05 PM   #3
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It was a beautiful day the other day and I lay down in the grass and watched the clouds blow by... Bliss! As I drifted, I found myself 7 again.
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Old 08-31-2014, 12:40 PM   #4
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From the article,
Quote:
For people who have not saved enough or have broken into their savings because of lost jobs and health crises, the findings offer a glimmer of hope. If you can cover basic expenses, pursuing inexpensive, everyday things that bring comfort and satisfaction can lead to happiness equal to jetting about on international trips in your 70s and 80s.
Well duh! You don't have to spend a fortune to have a good time and to have wonderful experiences worth remembering. Imagine that.

If someone's longing to see faraway places is so strong as to ruin their everyday fun, and if they have the funds for it, then they should go for it! But that doesn't mean that others are not having just as good a time (or better) enjoying inexpensive, everyday experiences such as those described in the article.
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Old 08-31-2014, 12:50 PM   #5
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I think this is part of what LBYM is about. We gain great happiness from ordinary things now, and thus can extend that as life goes on, without work.

One LBYM example: no opulent vacations. Just trips to the mountains to hike, or National Parks to explore the wonder.

Yesterday, we explored our local (very large) farmer's market. Why hadn't we done this before? It was fantastic and just set DW and I into a great mood all day.
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Old 08-31-2014, 07:06 PM   #6
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I'm far from my 70s, but the joy that we have found in everyday living in ER is a great, unexpected bonus.

We still travel a lot, but we also get great joy from simple things around the house & around Denver - like the free jazz concert we just returned from, our weekly hikes in the mountains during the summer, cooking for ourselves & for friends, socializing with friends, walking around new neighborhoods. The list is simply endless! The only thing not on it is cleaning & laundry!
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:18 PM   #7
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I am glad I take pleasure in doing simple things around the home and enjoy being at home a lot of the time. As I swear money just flys out of my wallet whenever I get in my car and go somewhere.


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Old 08-31-2014, 08:47 PM   #8
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I liked the figure about Paris used in the article. I had a big chuckle about that for two reasons:

1. Ron Lieber is located in New York City and this is a New York Times article. Lots of people around the world dream of a vacation to NYC before they dream of a vacation to Paris. Also New Yorkers just have to step outside to enjoy a world-class vacation destination.

2. I was also thinking of a similar figure in LeMonde of a Parisien dreaming of going on vacation to NYC. They would have picture of the Status of Liberty instead of the Eiffel Tower, but the opera pic would be the Met instead of the Paris Opera.
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
I liked the figure about Paris used in the article. I had a big chuckle about that for two reasons:

1. Ron Lieber is located in New York City and this is a New York Times article. Lots of people around the world dream of a vacation to NYC before they dream of a vacation to Paris. Also New Yorkers just have to step outside to enjoy a world-class vacation destination.

2. I was also thinking of a similar figure in LeMonde of a Parisien dreaming of going on vacation to NYC. They would have picture of the Status of Liberty instead of the Eiffel Tower, but the opera pic would be the Met instead of the Paris Opera.
You make such a great point. We live in Colorado - and what I think of as an "ordinary" outing, others might deem "extraordinary". And before this, we lived just outside NYC.

I think the same goes for all sorts of things depending on your economic, health & geographic situation (among other things).
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by 6miths View Post
It was a beautiful day the other day and I lay down in the grass and watched the clouds blow by... Bliss! As I drifted, I found myself 7 again.
+1 Except it's the zero-gravity recliner, and I watch the clouds and the trees rustle in the wind, through the skylights of the porch.

Average 3-4 hrs./wk. doing this. Truly a return to childhood bliss!
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Old 09-01-2014, 01:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 6miths View Post
It was a beautiful day the other day and I lay down in the grass and watched the clouds blow by... Bliss! As I drifted, I found myself 7 again.
A big +1 to this. I used to love lying in the grass as a kid, either in the back garden, or in the fields nearby, and watching the clouds slowly move across the sky. To this day, whenever I stare up at the sky and hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees, it stirs something very deep in me. Part of that it is the nostalgia for my childhood, but part of it is something deeper and very peaceful.

I remember a friend in college laughing at me because I took interest and pleasure in what he thought were very mundane things. He found it most amusing that it didn't take much to keep me happy.

But really - how much do you actually need to be content?
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Old 09-01-2014, 02:40 AM   #12
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A big +1 to this. I used to love lying in the grass as a kid, either in the back garden, or in the fields nearby, and watching the clouds slowly move across the sky. To this day, whenever I stare up at the sky and hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees, it stirs something very deep in me. Part of that it is the nostalgia for my childhood, but part of it is something deeper and very peaceful.

I remember a friend in college laughing at me because I took interest and pleasure in what he thought were very mundane things. He found it most amusing that it didn't take much to keep me happy.

But really - how much do you actually need to be content?
Major Tom, made me happy just to read your comment. Something tells me, the more I can strip away the extraneous, the more I can find pleasure in the most simple activities. There's something too about being outside on a sunny day.
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Taking pleasure in ordinary experiences
Old 09-01-2014, 03:12 AM   #13
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Taking pleasure in ordinary experiences

I just spent two hours gazing at the city lights outside my window while petting a cat. The purr of a cat is so therapeutic. When the weather is good, I like to sit quietly at the park and observe people and nature's wonders while eating my lunch. I like to feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the breeze on my skin. I find that so relaxing. When it's rainy and foggy, I like to go on a walk. The fog mutes the sounds of the city and I enjoy the sound of the rain hitting my jacket. Then I make a pot of tea and sip on it for a couple of hours while reading the paper.
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Old 09-01-2014, 04:29 AM   #14
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Great article, thanks for posting! I especially liked the part on the library. We have a great one near us. I like to ride my bike there off hours.

I was at a golf tournament a few weeks ago, and I noticed a lot of "rich" people talking about traveling to Europe, etc. Seems like they weren't that happy. Some were really complaining about something/someone. Total waste of positive energy, and no fun to be around.
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Old 09-01-2014, 08:45 AM   #15
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I have always felt that being able to find happiness in the ordinary, everyday things shows a level of contentment that goes against what a lot of "society" tends to push. Those ordinary, everyday things tend to help us slow down, pace ourselves, and just enjoy the moment without rushing about. This is good for us in the long run. However, what gets pushed a lot is the "tyranny of the urgent" - you need to be do something all the time, quickly, and just taking time out to enjoy and watch the world go by is boring and a waste of time.

I think of this every time I mention planning for retirement to someone and part of their reply is "won't you get bored?" Maybe because DW and I find so much happiness in ordinary things is why we can't see me retiring ever being boring.

The library things strikes home in a good way. As a kid, outside of school my favorite places where the sports field and the library. I remember on Saturdays when the weather was too bad for sports I would just spend the day in the library reading all kinds of things. I've never found it to be boring and with the increased resources in libraries these days it is an even more pleasurable place to be.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:14 AM   #16
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Add in the distant clatter of lawn mowers and/or the occasional hum of a small propeller plane and you've got it perfect.

The rustling of palm fronds and the ebb and flow of waves on the beach is another one that's hard to beat. Add in the occasional cry of a gull or other sea bird and it's perfect again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
A big +1 to this. I used to love lying in the grass as a kid, either in the back garden, or in the fields nearby, and watching the clouds slowly move across the sky. To this day, whenever I stare up at the sky and hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees, it stirs something very deep in me. Part of that it is the nostalgia for my childhood, but part of it is something deeper and very peaceful.

But really - how much do you actually need to be content?
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:34 AM   #17
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Daily bike rides, a walk through town to people watch on Saturday night, sitting on the pier at night looking at the stars while listening to the waves roll in, these are a few of my simple pleasures. I still enjoy the extraordinary but I too can see where the "ordinary" becomes more and more fulfilling as time goes by.
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:02 AM   #18
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For us we often have a better time piling into our old car and heading to the mountains then going to a distant European place. It is not about money. Recently we went up to the High Sierras and did day hikes. We did watercolor sketches around little alpine lakes. Beautiful and precious memories. When it is raining in the winter here, I will think back to the Marmots and other small creatures up in the high country wilderness.

Right now the weather in Northern California is just delightful. Soft September sunlight and fall color.
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:21 AM   #19
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The fragrances of freshly mown grass outside and then bread baking in our kitchen, a three-year-old explaining in great magical detail and vocabulary just how something works, a thirty-year-old watercolor portrait by DH of our daughter, a golden sunrise to compensate for a sleepless night. Beauty is indeed all around.
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:36 AM   #20
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It's very heartening to see that so many here also enjoy the simple pleasures. Although I have always been very driven when focused on a goal, once that goal is achieved, my drive goes down, and I want, in fact, I need, to relax.

I have friends who feel guilty if they "do nothing". I put that phrase in quote marks, because "doing nothing" never is a complete absence of activity, even though it may represent a lack of concrete, measurable goals. I have never, ever felt guilty for doing very little because I know from experience that my drive to work toward a specific goal will come back - and if one day, it doesn't, what does that matter? I am just one early retiree in a world of billions of people.

Last night, I sat outside with my neighbor's cat. He's an indoor/outdoor cat who refuses to stay indoors. I worry for his safety in this urban environment, but I have to accept that this is something I cannot control (especially as he's not my cat). I sat outside with him for 30 minutes last night and completely "got" why he wants to be outside. The warm night air was alive with sights and sounds and quite frankly, it was more comfortable outside than inside. We sat, experiencing the night together, and I think I got to see just a little bit of the world from his point of view. I still wish he'd stay indoors, but I now understand him better.

Nothing "concrete" or measurable was achieved in that 30 minutes, but I got to see the world from a different perspective, and that is most definitely worth something.

On the other hand, perhaps I am simply trying to justify the fact that I really enjoy lying around Here's a picture of Stephen, my neighbor's cat. He's a beautiful boy, and FIREd - as the father of 3 indoor cats, I'm glad yours is an indoor cat too. I'd worry too much about mine if they went outdoors around here.

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