Is Happiness in Today’s Headlines Possible?
Happening now in the Columbia River Gorge, a local month-long movement is challenging an entire region to ‘Make Happiness a Habit’
Hood River, Ore. (October 18, 2017) — A nation divided by politics. Natural disasters. A health care system in crisis. Mass shootings and other acts of unfathomable violence.
Without question, there’s a lot of important, albeit negative news capturing headlines today. But in spite of that, people throughout the Columbia River Gorge are taking a stand to reflect and share what’s positive about our world and life, literally practicing and growing “happiness” in their back yard.
Lately, however, it’s not necessarily been easy. A region known for its breathtaking agricultural valleys, snowcapped mountains, vibrant tourism, countless outdoor recreational opportunities, and a big, windy river, The Columbia River Gorge took a hard hit in September when wildfires raged across 50,000+ acres of surrounding forest. Whether the smoke would clear and fire worries settle down in September was a big question many people living here had.
“It was a tense time, without a doubt,” says David Edwards, CEO of One Community Health, the region’s only Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in both Hood River and The Dalles. “People were anxious, evacuating from their homes, breathing thick smoke and more. All this just added to the barometer of stress that’s been raised on both the local and national level due to a lot of general unrest in our country and world.”
But as most of us know, stress impacts health and wellness on so many levels. So that’s why a movement called “Gorge Happiness Month,” which kicked off October 1, is more timely and relevant than ever.
Taking place all month in four counties bordering the Columbia River Gorge (Skamania, Klickitat, Hood River and The Dalles), Gorge Happiness Month is a massive effort inspiring people to spend 31 days improving their happiness factor, primarily through three daily activities scientifically proven to make us happier and healthier:
- Act of kindness
- Moments of silence, for example in meditation, in prayer, reading positive affirmations, etc.
The program’s planner, Emily Reed of Mosier, Ore., is a marketing/branding consultant with a passion for building vibrant, healthy communities. In 2016, when One Community Health was looking for an impactful way to honor its 30th anniversary and “give back” to its patients and community partners, Edwards asked Reed to help. She jumped at the opportunity, and the two built a team of people to get Gorge Happiness Month off the ground and going.
“At first it was like a spark of an idea, but it’s taken off and really caught on,” Reed says. “I think people are just craving a sense of happiness that goes beyond a fleeting feeling. Gorge Happiness Month is helping people connect with one another, be more present, and recognize what’s good in our lives. This helps us to notice what’s meaningful about life, or what gives us purpose. And when we feel like we matter, this supports our emotional, physical and spiritual health.”
Now in its second year, Gorge Happiness Month offers region-wide activities and events, promotes those on www.GorgeHappiness.org and through the Gorge Happiness app. Through the website, people can take the Gorge Happiness Survey (to see how their personal happiness factor compares with others) and discover how they can improve their score.
It’s not just individuals participating, too. This year, 100+ partners, including businesses, local governments, nonprofits and schools, are involved in some way. What’s more, a number of well-known public figures in the region are taking the “happiness challenge.”
“When leaders grasp the impact and become champions for this cause, it’s very powerful,” Edwards says. “For example, last year, Hood River’s mayor was a recipient of an act of kindness. What he told us is that because of the kindness bestowed upon him, he did indeed feel happier. So we know Gorge Happiness Month works! And while it’s happening right now, for another two or so weeks, this is really about a more expansive, lasting shift in our culture that views happiness as an essential part of our health, who we are, and what we stand for as a community.”
Now that’s good news!
For more information, visit the Gorge Happiness Month.
Media interviews, photo opportunities and inquiries:
Gorge Happiness Month Planner/Coordinator
About One Community Health
One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and, today, has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home. OCH currently provides services to over 11,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing proactive educational programs and support that sustain its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties. For more information, click here or visit: http://www.onecommunityhealth.org/.
Katie Roberts, Communications Developer
One Community Health