Is Colombia really the happiest place in the world? WIN-Gallup say it is, but we’d be interested to hear what you’d have to say on the matter.
Ourselves? We’re not particularly sure what to make of it all, but even so, we reckon happiness is a distinct possibility here.
Any claim about happiness is going to be a contentious one – you could go all philosophical and ask, while stroking your goatee, “well, what is happiness, really, if you follow me?” You could wonder if happiness alone is a goal worth shooting for. You could ask, “how dare I be happy in a world full of such pain and darkness?” These are all worthy arguments, especially in a country such as Colombia, which is reportedly the country with the second highest level of economic inequality in the world, has the longest-running armed conflict, and has many deep-set social problems.
There you go, now you’ve got me all depressed – those darned buddhists are right: the moment you stop to consider whether you’re happy or not is also the moment when you stop being happy. Smart-arses. However, even when taking all those above points into consideration, I still find it hard to deny there certainly seems to be a fair chunk of happiness all across this beautiful country. How is it done?
OK, here I’d like to put forth a few ideas of my own as to how one can experience a little ray of Colombian happiness in this world of pain and suffering:
1. Slow Down.
Take it easy, will ya? What’s the big hurry, anyway?
Have you ever had the feeling that you’re almost always holding your breath anxiously?
Why don’t you try the following?
Stop trying to push that poor Señora out of the way to get to that “ultra important” meeting with that person you don’t really care much about anyway. Learn to love the amble! Even if you do get there late, just blame it on the traffic! Nobody’s going to worry that much. Probably. Take your time to enjoy your surroundings. OK, it might be a tad easier here with Colombia’s spectacular megadiversity (it is a word, dammit!), but other places can be kind of nice too. Step one in learning how to be as happy as a Colombian is learning how to step like a Colombian. Walk slow, dawg.
2. Eat More Fruit.
We can’t lie with this one. I’m afraid you actually have to come to Colombia for this piece of worldy wisdom, you poor thing. You know those fancy juice bars that are springing up like St. John’s Wort all over the western world? We here in Colombia scoff at such tosh. Nothing beats walking (slowly, now) to the corner for the freshest, most delicious orange juice you’re ever likely to taste – all for less than a buck. And that’s just the beginning. Do you know there are 150 different types of fruit readily available here in Colombia? Neither do I, but there are definitely more kinds than those sad, sorry, cold-storage apples and oranges you’re used to back home. Most of the fruits here don’t even have an English name. We all know that fruit contains anti-blah-blah’s and are good for the whatever-ever. What you may not know is that they actually taste spectacular. Well, here in Colombia, anyway. Trust me: here at least, fruit = happiness. Think I’m wrong? Come over here and prove it, then. I’ll buy you a lulo shake if you do.
3. Make Friends with Locals (Roll Wit’ da Homiez).
Now that I’ve enticed you to Colombia with the promise of a fruit you’ve never even heard of, let alone tasted, the next step is to hang with the locals. After all, they’re the real experts when it comes to being as happy as a Colombian (is that phrase still not trending in the blogosphere?). If you don’t chuck a Brad Pitt and try to blow up every Mexican I mean Colombian you come across, you may actually find out that some of them can be kinda cool. Without any exaggeration at all, every single Colombian in the universe since the dawn of time has been friendly, generous, and blessed with a rather silly sense of humour. OK OK, so that’s not strictly true, but a whole bunch of Colombians we’ve met are truly awesome people, with a perplexing mix of relaxedness and giddy enthusiasm. You sure you haven’t met at least one Colombian like that? Once you start rolling with the locals, you’ll be swigging firewater from the bottle and miraculously roaring out the words to a vallenato “classic” before you know what happened. You might even start dancing…
4. Dance, You Say? I Will Never Dance.
I’ve got some sad news to break to you. “Dancing” doesn’t solely entail drinking 12 vodkaredbulls and then “ironically” dancing the Macarena or Gangnam Style. It doesn’t solely entail waving your hands around and pointing to the DJ while nodding your head. Get this, though: there’s even more to it than making the Universal Hand Signal for Rock and pretending you’re in the video for “Smells like Teen Spirit.” You may not believe me, but you too may pick up at least the basic steps of salsa or cumbia. You may not win any competitions in Cali any time soon, but you can give it a go. If you relax a little (point 1 above), have enough vitamins in your system (point 2), you may just find that your select crew of locals (point 3) will be wildly enthusiastic about your stiff-backed. hopelessly out of time efforts. A bottle or two of guaro will only help with this. This will make you happy. Happy, that is, until your guayabo. Believe me, we’ve done some fairly extensive research on it.
5. Are You Open to the World Around You?
To be perfectly honest with you, Gentle and Soon-to-be-happy Reader, I’m cheating here with my Top 5. Sorry. The reason I say this is that, really, this fifth point is just a summation of the above four, and everything else that could allow you to be as happy as a Colombian (hear that phrase, Google Gods?). I’ve found that most times you leave yourself open to enjoy the treasures that Colombia offers you, you will be richly rewarded. At first blush, it might seem too daggy, stupid, risky, or “Colombian” for you, but that’s often just you being too highly strung (I’m not, btw). Try that weird looking fruit. Have a go at salsa. Take that trip to Medellin or San Agustin. Maybe don’t get into that van with that guy in a trenchcoat offering you candy, but you get the idea, right?
So, there are my top 5 ways to be as Happy as a Buzz Phrase. Anybody know any more that could slap a big cheesy smile all over your fruit-smeared face? Don’t be a greedy-guts, now: do share!