GULF COAST ZEITGEIST
Plenty of opportunities on the islands to roam about in search of joy
To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.
With satirical Irish wit, old Oscar makes two things clear: (1) feeling youthful is a mark of health and wellness; and (2) whether young or old, there is well-being to be gained from physical activity, a consistent schedule and satisfying social relationships. America’s own Ben Franklin added a mental dividend to the rewards of a disciplined routine: Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Both men asserted that the quality of life can be measured like a coin: It has two sides (bodily health and mental wellbeing) and is offered as a valuable means of transactional exchange (linking an individual with others). Here is a currency minted for the creation of happiness.
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) affirms that happiness is not simply dependent on a person’s genes; it is a set of skills that can be taught and, with practice, developed over time. Based at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2001, the GGSC not only sponsors groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, but also functions as a first-rate health clinic in helping people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. The center teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient and compassionate society. The ancient wisdom reflected by Wilde and Franklin is being reaffirmed in our time: mental states (mind), physical health (body) and a circle of friends (society) are intimately related.
Having produced evidence that happiness and altruism are intertwined, science concludes that doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy (doing good = feeling good). The GGSC identifies six habits of happiness: Pay attention; give thanks; drop grudges; keep friends close; practice kindness; and get moving.
That last one is where the pursuit of happiness gets physical—and here on our warm and sunny islands we have the perfect setting to put oneself in motion (and I don’t mean in a car). For walking, the islands have a combined 20-plus miles of uncrowded beach, almost that many miles of meandering nature trails and even more quiet residential streets. For biking, both islands have many side roads and quiet lanes, plus Sanibel has 25 miles of bike trails (actually “multiuse paths” for joggers, hikers and leashed pets). Finally, there are courts for tennis and pickleball, fields for baseball and soccer, courses for golf and birdwatching, and the Gulf for swimming and fishing.
Ours is a hospitable habitat in which to live and move and have our being, offering health and wellness to those who are willing to “get up and go”—to respond to the call to gallivant each and every day. This rarely spoken word derives from the old French verb galer (to rejoice) and literally means “to roam about in search of joy.” So, make a nice day by “gallivanting for good.”
OURS IS A HOSPITABLE HABITAT IN WHICH TO LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING, OFFERING HEALTH AND WELLNESS TO THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO “GET UP AND GO.”