ELLE (Canada) - - News - Kather­ine Flem­ming

A few months ago, ELLE In­ter­na­tional launched a world­wide survey en­ti­tled “The Hap­pi­ness In­dex.” Women in 42 coun­tries were asked to talk about what makes them smile. We high­light some of th­ese find­ings in “How to Be

Happy in 2015” on page 42 and on­line at ellecanada.com/hap­pi­ness. was a pretty happy kid, which, given my Celtic her­itage, is rather re­mark­able. Or at least that’s what I con­cluded when I would hear my rel­a­tives re­peat­edly say that “dur­ing the best of times, the Ir­ish com­fort them­selves with the knowl­edge that bad times are just around the cor­ner.” They would laugh after they said it, but the mes­sage was clear: Don’t take happy mo­ments for granted, and don’t en­joy them too much ei­ther. When we were plan­ning this month’s is­sue—its theme be­ing about the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness and what that means—I de­cided I would ask peo­ple I met how they achieve, or ex­pe­ri­ence, this emo­tion in their lives.

Dick­son Yewn, an ex­cep­tion­ally tal­ented jew­ellery de­signer, told me that he tries to follow an an­cient Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy that en­cour­ages peo­ple how not to be happy. (This line of rea­son­ing makes the Ir­ish seem giddy!) “How not to be happy?” I asked, seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion. “Hap­pi­ness is all about ups and downs, but the goal is to be in the mid­dle,” ex­plained Yewn. “You want to avoid the ups and downs. Be con­tent but not too happy and not too sad. In the end, happy is nice and sad is nice.” He talked about the im­por­tance of achiev­ing self-con­tent­ment, but not in the way Oprah might en­cour­age. “There’s this Bud­dhist idea that if you’re meant to be a bil­lion­aire but you’re not, you’re not happy,” he said. “If you’re meant to be poor but you’re su­per-rich, you’re not happy. If you’re meant to be av­er­age but you’re not av­er­age, you’re not happy. So self-con­tent­ment means: ‘I’m sup­posed to have some­thing and I have it. You don’t have more or less.’”

Sev­eral days later, I had the plea­sure of hear­ing Susan Wener speak in support of Lung Can­cer Aware­ness Month. It’s a dis­ease that has af­fected my life pro­foundly, as my mother and fa­ther-in-law both died of it. Wener, now 61, was di­ag­nosed with colon can­cer when she was 36. The young mother of three daugh­ters was de­ter­mined to live long enough to see her girls thrive on their own. A few years after her first bout with can­cer, she was stricken with lung can­cer. Her re­mark­able jour­ney—and the philo­soph­i­cal teach­ings it prompted—is cap­tured in her truly in­spir­ing book Re­silience: A Story of Courage and Tri­umph in the Face of Re­cur­rent Can­cer. For Wener, be­ing happy is be­ing in the mo­ment. “It doesn’t mat­ter what the out­come is in life; what mat­ters is the process,” she said. “And the process is that dash that’s be­tween the time of birth and the time of death. Many of us are too busy won­der­ing when we’re go­ing to be happy—if we get good re­sults, if we lose five pounds, if we get $100,000, if we find a mate—but we’re miss­ing the happy mo­ments in that dash.” So if self-con­tent­ment (how­ever you de­fine it) is one of your goals this year, start by ban­ish­ing “if only...” from your mind­set.

Christina Reynolds

De­nis Desro Ex­ec­u­tive Fash­ion Ed­i­tor-at-Large Ju­liana Schi­av­inatto Fash­ion & Mar­ket Ed­i­tor An­thony Mitropou­los As­so­ciate Ed­i­tor Alan­nah O’Neill (on leave) As­so­ciate Fash­ion Ed­i­tor Char­lotte Her­rold As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor Ava Bac­cari Re­searcher Sarah Thomp­son

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Is­abelle Mar­coux

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