WHAT MAKES HAPPY PEOPLE. THE ITALIAN WAY
If I had to talk about what makes me happy, it would be easy for me today! I could just say that speaking at a TEDx with you this morning makes me really happy! Great experience.
But I have a more difficult task today: I shall try to uncover - more in general - what makes “happy people”.
So the first big question is “What is happiness”.
There have been many attempts to measure it, but there is one short poem that I find particularly helpful for this purpose:
I asked God to give me HAPPINESS,
And God said, “No.”
He said He gives BLESSINGS,
Happiness is up to me.
We all have many blessings, but very often we do not realize it or simply we do not consider them blessings. It took me some time to understand this. To understand, for example, how important to me was my country, Italy, and what it has represented in my life.
As Italian Ambassador my job is to the represent my country abroad. I think it is a great privilege! When I meet new people they often tell me “I love your country. You are lucky!”
Indeed I am.
I will try to go through some blessings, that you will certainly find also in your country, which can contribute to your happiness…. At least, that’s what they did for me!. And I will do it taking as an example Italy.
Let me make a quick survey:
How many of you have ever been to Italy?
Please raise your hand. Well I see many hands up.
If so many of you have been to my country, probably for leisure, it must be because you wanted to spend some pleasant time and be happy.
One particular blessing is BEAUTY.
Beauty has many different forms and aspects such as art and landscape. If you live in or if you visit Italy, you are probably going to find yourself in a place with deep historical roots and artistic tradition.
This small town that you see here is one of the many wonderful and well preserved medieval villages of Central Italy. This is Città della Pieve in Umbria where I was born.
Città della Pieve is the hometown of a famous Renaissance painter called “Perugino”.
In this beautiful masterpiece of Perugino, that is in Città della Pieve, you can also see the typical Italian landscape as it was represented in Renaissance time: a scene that gives you a sensation of peacefulness and harmony.
If you think for a moment about how these masterpieces have been created, you’ll find that is not very different from the technique we should adopt in building a happy life. A beautiful painting is done one brush stroke at a time. With patience and time. Sometime making mistakes that need to be corrected. Well, I believe that’s how you should go about in pursuing happiness too.
But now let’s move to another blessing that we have in Italy - and probably the one we are most famous for - is FOOD.
In Italy you can find an incredible variety of typical food, very different from region to region. Here you can see different Italian cheeses. One estimate talks of about 600 different types, out of which more than 50 have protected designation of origin (DOP).
We can observe the same variety in Italian wine. You probably all heard of Chianti, Barbera, Rosso di Montalcino, Pinot or Prosecco. Good wine always accompanies good food and this explains to you why in Italy we have more than 260.000 wine producers….. You have a wide choice.
But when you think of Italian food you think also of Pasta!
This is a quote by one of our most famous cinema directors, Federico Fellini. I fully agree with it!
A balanced and varied diet like the Mediterranean diet is essential for a healthy body and a happy life. It is not by chance that the Mediterranean diet has been included into the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. (well, it is called “intangible”, but I think food is VERY tangible….)
But there are other blessings besides art and good food. Another blessing is WEATHER. And Italy is also appreciated for this.
My country is well known for sunshine and plenty of daylight while also having four different seasons during the year. I think we all agree that we all feel better when the sun is shining and we can go outside. At the same time it is also very pleasant to be able to experience the cycles of nature.
And talking about seasons, I think it is not by chance that one of the most famous pieces of Italian classical music is “The four seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi a famous composer who lived in Venice in the 17th century.
I have always loved music and I am convinced that listening to nice music can lift your spirits. We have a great tradition in Italy not only with classical music but also with Opera and Traditional popular songs.
How many of you know this piece?
Raise your hand.
You are listening to “O Sole mio”, one of the most famous Neapolitan songs written at the end of the XIX century.
When you listen to it you are going to immediately smile and think of Italy, in particular of Naples.
This is a very simple proof of how MUSIC affects your mood and how it can move your emotions and make you think about one specific country.
Let me now share with you another little secret related to the Italian way to happiness. Another element that surely influences our state of happiness is how we feel about ourselves. And if we are well dressed and other people appreciate our style we certainly feel better.
Italy is famous for FASHION and Italians are well known for the attention they put in the way they dress. I am sure that if you are walking in a crowded street you might recognize any Italian you see by taking a look at his or her stylish outfit.
So we talked about art, weather, food, music and elegance. These are all important factors for happiness and they are part of the Italian way of life and they can be found in different forms in many countries.
But that certainly doesn’t mean that all those who live under these conditions are happy.
A Quote by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and philosopher who lived in the second century after Christ, can help us to understand better what might be missing
“THE HAPPINESS OF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON THE QUALITY OF YOUR THOUGHTS.”
Happiness depends on YOU! It depends on each one of us.
So what is the essential element that is at the core of living a happy life?
We can really enjoy what we have, what has been given to us, only if we appreciate it.
So look carefully around you and always remember to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
It’s your best bet for reaching happiness