Health

The Oprah effect: How gratitude locates my happy place

When Oprah says something we listen: you should keep a gratitude journal. And while I don't keep one in a conventional format, I do stop periodically and remind myself of the things that make me happy and how lucky I am to have them...and it works.

happy place, woman in hammock

Masterfile

When Oprah says something we listen: you should keep a gratitude journal. And while I don’t keep one in a conventional format, I do stop periodically and remind myself of the things that make me happy and how lucky I am to have them…and it works. As the summer winds down – anyone else feel that evening chill set in? – I’ve decided to take a few steps back and reflect on my happiest places from the last few months.

1. Sitting on the street in Hong Kong, shoveling noodles into my mouth. There’s nothing like visiting a place with incredible street culture, the sounds and smells, the constant shoulder-to-shoulder bustle, the delectable and cheap range of hot and cold snacks, it’s exhilarating. Hong Kong is such a vertical city, and the opportunity to grab a stool, the city practically heaped on top of you, to enjoy a bowl of perfect noodles, while shopping families and office workers whiz around you, puts a smile on my face.

2. Lying on the beach in Samui, Thailand. I recently realized that one of the happiest things I can do for myself is to be near the sounds of the water. If you put me in the vicinity of waves, most of my tension starts to melt away, and I know I’m not alone on this. On a recent trip to Thailand, I had the pleasure of staying at the new Banyan Tree Samui, a beautiful property terraced down several hills. I thought, initially, that I’d never leave my villa, (possibly barricading myself inside when it came time to check out, hoping that squatters’ rights might apply) but I set one foot on the soft , sandy beach, heard the low rumble of the waves, and felt terrifically happy that this would be my home for the next few days.

3. Eating sea cucumbers in Shandong, China. I should clarify: I don’t LOVE eating sea cucumbers. But I do love being in a situation where it’s possible. As the world seemingly gets smaller – when was the last time you traveled to a place that doesn’t sell Diet Coke? – it’s so delightful to go somewhere and have an experience you’re pretty sure you couldn’t have at home.

4. At the Ritz in Doha, meeting up with old friends. One of the happiest things in the world is to see good friends in exotic places. I once ran into a friend in Paris, and dashing between bistros and bars really elevated our companionship. Ditto the time I met friends to peel jumbo shrimp in Auckland. So when I arrived in Doha, anticipating a completely foreign experience, it was so wonderful to meet up with familiar friends. As we wandered through the souk and then retreated back to the hotel bar to recap over boozy cocktails, it both enhanced the visit and gave us shared memories that make a friendship that much stronger.

5. At home on my stoop, drinking experimental cocktails. As much as I love being on the road, I also love to come home. My boyfriend and I have a new project, and it almost exclusively involves alcohol. We’ve started making homemade tonic water, along with garnishes like vodka-soaked orange peels and bourbon-soaked cherries. (I was looking for a hobby – though this isn’t exactly the most wholesome thing I could have found.) There are few times I’m happier than when we come together for a cocktail – partly “homemade” – at the end of another day.

What’s unique for me is that all of these moments involve food or drink. So I guess that while I enjoy the view, I prefer it come with a menu! Thanks Oprah.

What are some of your happiest memories?