GULF COAST ZEIT­GEIST

Plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties on the is­lands to roam about in search of joy

Times of the Islands - - Departments - Gal­li­vant­ing for Good

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.”

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