I was at the beach this morning – standing on the deck of one of the ‘bungalows’ that line the Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town: possibly the most expensive real-estate in South Africa. The Atlantic is freezing around the Cape. Only the mad, drunk and brave swim. There was a woman walking up from the water, shaking her hair free from her swim cap. She said “hi” to me and I saw that she was probably well into her seventies, if not her eighties. A storm front was advancing and the sea was heaving and chopping: it wouldn’t have been my first choice for a splash around. She must have caught my thoughts because she said: “I swim every day. I love it. It makes me happy.” And smiled.
She made me happy. As did the view, Jack gambolling around on the sand and the knowledge that my 2014 salary shortfall was going to be made up by a new part-time job. Which will involve looking after the deck I was standing on, and the bungalow’s other bits and pieces, whilst the owner was away.
The view was spectacular, the area one of the nicest in Cape Town – yet not a single person I had passed in the parking lot or on the way down the many steps to the house had returned my cheery “good morning”. Perhaps I looked like the help – but they just seemed miserable. On the surface they seemed to have it all – a beautiful spot to live, nature around them, a small community enclave, money, security … but they couldn’t even crack a smile at a passing stranger. What the hell would it take to make them happy?
When I got home I found the Science of Happiness infographic in my inbox. Sent to me by a good friend who knows my interest in Positive Psychology. I checked its provenance – and the research is sound. I thought I would share it with you – might go some way to explaining the grumpy neighbours.