The source of happiness

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RESEARCHERS John L. Fischer, Robert C. Kiste and Miriam Kahn said “the populations of Micronesia were in good balance with their natural resources at the time of European contact.”

The writer, left, with Grace Aneko.  Contributed photo

Because the climate varied little during the year, they added, “moderate amounts of labor were sufficient for comfortable survival, and much time was available for activities such as dancing, feasting, and visiting friends and relatives. The period of youth was often prolonged, as adults could afford to indulge their children. This positive attitude toward the enjoyment of leisure was especially characteristic of the high islanders, with their more fertile soil and more secure life.”

Things are different today.

Grace Aneko, who is from the Federated States of Micronesia, now calls Guam home, but she said she’s always happy to visit Chuuk where most of her relatives are residing.

“Family is the core of happiness,” she added.

Other islanders interviewed by this writer said they and their family members are always happy to be with each other through good and bad times.

How can we tell if people are happy?

“Facial expressions might not be reliable indicators of emotion,” Laura Arenschield of Ohio State News wrote recently, citing research.

“In fact,” she added, “it might be more accurate to say we should never trust a person’s face, new research suggests. Everyone makes different facial expressions based on context and cultural background. Not everyone who smiles is happy. Not everyone who is happy smiles. I would even go to the extreme of saying most people who do not smile are not necessarily unhappy. And if you are happy for a whole day, you don’t go walking down the street with a smile on your face. You’re just happy.”

Other islanders interviewed by this writer believe that knowing that something or someone can make you happy is a source of joy itself.

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