Thursday, December 24, 2015

Park Your Gift - Have Fun Outside

     According to the World Happiness Report, from a money, happiness and satisfaction study in 2012, Denmark was at the top in life satisfaction and work-life balance and
17th in income. The United States ranked number 1 in income but ranked 12th in life satisfaction and 29th  in work balance. This holiday season, how can we find the sense of happiness found in Denmark?

     This reminds me of the Bobby McFerrin singing, “Don’t worry – be happy. Put a smile on your face”. Also reminds me of the Cyndi Lauper singing, “Girls just wanna have fun”. Perhaps those references are showing my age. However, that is okay, as WebMd advises that people are happier, less stressed, and feel better about themselves after age 50. With increased age comes wisdom and emotional intelligence. Well I feel happier, less stressed, so two out of three isn’t bad!

     Now WebMd seems to caution about extremes. “Sure, pleasure is great and you need plenty of it, though there is more to happiness than racking up pleasurable experiences. Psychologists studying the effects of positive emotions say gratitude can boost our sense of happiness if we turn it into a conscious and regular practice. Feeling gratitude, they say, is something you do (such as expressing gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal), not something you wait for!”

     I think I will start by shopping for a Christmas tree. Now in past years, when our children were little, this was a mix of fun, and agony. The fun was the idea of the family outing, decorating the tree, fresh pine smell. The agony was my choice of Charlie Brown trees in an effort to squeeze dollar bills.

     This year I think I will (frequently) visit South Burlington parks and natural areas to shop for the Christmas tree experience. I will take photos of Christmas trees- no messing with tangled light cords, non-functional bulbs, no spilling water, no sweeping pine needles, no worrying about money.  The live growing pine and spruce trees, the natural trees of green releasing aroma like pheromones make me feel happy, alive, refreshed, and thankful we have such a spiritual and pleasure giving place to boost our sense of happiness.   

     My wish list to Santa is to have more residents feel pride and a claim of ownership and display a maternal caring attitude and behavior towards our public landscape - both the cityscape and the natural areas. For love of community, may we take thankful pride and ownership in our public places-especially our natural places?

     Santa, for those not yet familiar with nature parks: Red Rocks, Wheeler, Underwood, Dumont, Centennial, Winooski Gorge Overlook, as well as the Awasiwi trail, Muddy Brook Natural area, and regional WVPD parks, I ask that you leave an invitation in their stocking; an invitation to park their gifts for a little while, and go have fun outside.

     It is not too late to give a gift of an outdoor experience - to a loved one and to yourself.

* Storywalk: Take a walk in the Wheeler Nature Park to view the current story walk, Let's Have a Tree Party by David Martin, Jeff Manders and John Manders. See photos @

* The Secret to Danish Happiness: The Five Rules of "Hygge".

* A Map of Happiness Around the World

*Denmark is Considered the Happiest Country. You'll Never Guess Why.

#Optoutside REI's Black Friday pledge

View Bernie’s images of South Burlington nature parks and more @ and follow on Facebook @ South Burlington VT - Photos.

Many a snowmen are waiting for you to bring them back to life.

Bring along a thermos of hot chocolate to sip while you watch and listen to nature.