Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are we happy yet?

I came across an article that rated Switzerland as one of the happiest places to live. Article: Countries happiness factor

Slideshow of countries

After reading the article, the question comes up 'Can the external environment have an effect on happiness?'

Give me some warm sun, snow capped mountains, a large shady tree, soft grass, white clouds, blue skies, sandy beaches, with a small breeze and that would give me a little happiness. There is no doubt in my mind that being around nature lets you know you are alive. If you enjoy the outdoors and you need a polethera of things to do outside, then Switzerland is a prime choice because it provides ample opportunities for the enthusiasts. Last nite I had dinner with some friends and some conversations that caught my attention were 'I know these three hikes around here that are truely amazing' or 'Have you tried kite skiing?'. Ok...I must confess, hearing a girl mention kite skiing is a major turn on. There is an energy here that forces you into the outdoors, whether you like it or not. It's not an option, it's a necessity. If winter brings skiing, I'm interested to see what summer will bring.

Working for a non-profit organization with a goal of changing the world for the better, adds a sense of purpose. Helping refugees is not something I am experiencing first hand in the fields of Africa, but the energy of people on these missions have a genuine kindness and consideration. It intrigues me to talk to someone who is unselfishly wants to change the world for the better, while the topic of 'how much money' never seems to arise. Being from a capitalist society, as well as myself with a business background, it is different yet refreshing to experience. I realized you get the same feeling when doing volunteer work. Although my community service I did around town was court ordered, but you get my point. Definitely compassion creates happiness.

Quote from the Dalai Lama -(Art of Hapiness)
'If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.'

    Can't only be External!

Happiness is such a broad term and everyone's interpretation varies from person to person, that the external environment is only a small piece of the equation. Happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by one’s external conditions, circumstances, or events—at least once one’s basic survival needs are met. Thus, the only source of happiness – and unhappiness – comes from inside yourself.

"Happiness is not something that comes to you or you can go to. It is something you create now, today. Waiting for something to change in order to be happy is waiting to live your life. It is not what happens to you that counts. It is how you react to what happens to you. It is your attitude. When you adopt a positive attitude, life becomes a rewarding adventure instead of something to get through."

The key to happiness is in our own hands. To create a life that is rich with color, you just need to learn to convey it. Find what makes you tick and go with it, then you can convey the canvas of your life elegantly. Life, truely is a piece of artwork full of vivid colors created by a brush of experiences.

Happiness is in the interpretation...

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
– Mahatma Gandhi

See the world map of happiness

Monday, February 18, 2008

More mountains...can you get enough?

Doubt this is the last of the mountains, you just can't seem to get enough of them here. I'm finding that sometimes pictures don't grasp the beauty or the moment like a video can.

Another view:

Top of Mont Fort

Mont-Fort: The highest point in Verbier. It took us (Sarah, Marc, Elena and I) over an hour of getting on ski lifts to get to the top. Only Black piste from the summit. A black piste is the same as black diamond in the states. Their level of dificulty ranks are: Black, Red, Blue and Green (easiest).

When you press play, don't look down!

Little Description of Mont Fort

Next snowfall, I'm definitley coming back to the top to hit the fresh snow...can't wait.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where's the Beef?

Super Bowl in the States:
There is one event I have NEVER missed my entire life and that has been the Super Bowl. Growing up, my parents were known for throwing the best Super Bowl parties in town. Neighbors, family and friends would pack the house for this annual festivity of great food, drinks and socializing. Every neighbor from our street would be at the house. The kids participated in halftime games in the street. Being a chef extraordinaire, my dad would always man the grill with creative dishes like a buffalo roast for the NY Buffalos or a Green chile stew for the Greenbay packers. The meals were well planned well in advance by one of the best chefs in the Southwest.

Super Bowl and bets go hand in hand, so it's not surprising that I learned to gamble at a young age. The duties involved were creating betting 'squares' and collecting the money, along with any side bets we could think of. We even bet on the bud bowl, which is bud light vs. budwiser. (Maybe I should see a shrink?) People that were not into the game would look forward to the millions of dollars spent on 30 seconds of marketing. What about the marketing geniuses creating the talking frogs, louie the lizzard, wasssssuuuuup, the doritos girl, the clydesdales playing football, go-daddy's risky commercial, pepsi and Cindy Crawford...etc.

Check the Top 25 Superbowl commercials
My personal favorite is #20 Terry Tate- Office Linebacker. The #3 frogs are also great.

If it's your team in the Super Bowl, then it is another thing all together. When it's game time, you represent wearing a jersey, and the colors will be blaring along with your mouth to anyone who opposes you.

Super Bowl in Switzerland:
The game starts at 12:15am and the bar is surprisingly filled with mostly Americans. I could tell the people at the bar weren't huge Giants or New England fans, but we all are obligated to see the Super Bowl because it is one past time ingrained in our lives. Tonight they have American food like nachos, burgers, and chicken wings. From my experience with American food in Europe is 'just don't do it!'. You may want some comfort food like home, but it hasn't been worth it about 90% of the time. They can't make a decent burger and the nachos are definitely not what I would call nachos. The only thing worth ordering are Freedom fries, which are probably not American anyway.

About the only time I want to see a commercial is during this game. Commercial time is coming up and I'm looking forward to a new advertising slogan to take to the office tomorrow, but instead I get a couple announcers. The game has a different feel when the announcers are British sportscasters using words like brilliant, superb, extravagance...etc. They also had commentary from a couple lads, one wearing a Packers jersey. Aren't we watching the Giants vs. Patriots? An interesting thing about Swiss/German TV is the very limited amount, if any commercials. It is so nice to watch TV and not go to commercial in mid sentence like in the states. Europeans seem to have less tolerance for advertising and they feel it affects the flow of the program. Living over here I suddenly don't have this feeling to ask my doctor about Cialis or Vioxx.

To make the game a little more interesting I found some others with the same betting interests. I had to follow tradition even though I am impartial to both teams and put some money on the game anyway. The game ended up being a nail biting game down to the wire. We cheered until 4:30am bonding with the fellow die hards making a great nite of American Football (with a European twist).