If you lived in North America for a while one get used to everything being big. The meals are big, people are big and even the vacuum hoses are big, so naturally you expect hike to a water fall to be long and a water fall to be North American size. It turned out the hike was two hour gentle stroll and water fall was pretty but dainty.
Then came the experience of a mud bath, sauna, natural hot springs, followed by a massage. Sounded pretty good to me but my brother was not too keen. So I went on my own. The mud bath was not a mud bath, it was a bucket full of mud and people was putting it all over themselves and then laying in the sun to dry it off. I was expecting a hot mud bath I could jump into and sit in it for a while. Just for the experience I took part in the ritual anyway. The mud was cold, but I was determined to cover myself with it but I didn’t have the patience to lay in the sun to dry afterwards. I went straight to the shower to wash it off. Another not so pleasant surprise, the shower was ice-cold. I tried to wash the mud off quickly but the mud was thick and took ages to come off. I was finally glad to run into the natural hot spring pool. It was hot and soothing. I stayed in there for a while to get the chill out of my body and also for the sheer pleasure of sitting in a natural hot pool surrounded by lush vegetation and monkeys swinging in the trees making a ruckus. The natural happiness in me was revived. I even had a good conversation about the day with an elderly couple also enjoying the pool.
I remembered reading about our happiness coming from four sources and if you activate one then you are likely also to activate the others and thus making you even happier. The sitting in the pool was a physical pleasure and I knew it wouldn’t last for very long. Since I was on holiday I treated myself to a massage, another short-lived physical pleasure. It was wonderful. As I waited for the massage to begin; again I enjoyed the natural surroundings. I could see the wild jungle through a huge window with a fast running stream not far away from the window. I felt as though I was in heaven.
In case you are wondering what the four sources of pleasures are, they are as follows: 1) happiness from physical pleasures as I mentioned; usually it is icing on the cake but not the main layer of happiness. 2) Good mood or our temperaments, such as being optimistic, is more promising source of happiness and it is longer lasting. 3) Pleasures we get when some things we are happy about,, for example that we live in politically stable country, or we are happy our favorite actor got the Oscar etc – it is intellectual appreciation of good things in life. 4) The last source of pleasure is life satisfaction or being in gratitude. Feeling happy is not as easy as some of the self-help books claim because it takes an effort to change the temperaments and life satisfaction. Some think these two are fixed and are not changeable, but to me they seem changeable.
I should also point out that these sources of pleasure are not isolated, they are related. Sometimes one source of pleasure blends into another, and they regularly reinforce each other, so having one type of pleasure encourages you to have others. Being happy in one way tends to make you happy in others, just as, on the other side, sadness breeds more sadness. In other words the happy get happier and the sad sadder!
Best Things In Life by Thomas Hurka