Finding happiness in the ‘Napa-Sonoma’ region
A couple of weeks ago, Punxsutawney Phil, “the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticators of all Prognosticators,” you know, the groundhog, peeked his head out of a hole in Pennsylvania and found himself greeted by a phalanx of onlookers set on anthropomorphizing the critter’s behavior into that of a weatherman.
Apparently, Phil spied his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. At present writing, we have four more to go. Or at least they do in Gobbler’s Knob, where winter’s shadow loomed large over the psychic rodent.
Phil’s forecast is irrelevant here in Wine Country where our weather has become schizophrenic. Apart from a single storm, the only precipitation we’ve received came from the eyes of the TV weather girl after her position was downsized to a cup of dice.
Yes, it’s that random. About all we can count on from winter, according to Dr. Aymee Coget, is the notion that travel during the season might make one happy. Dr. Coget should know, she’s a happiness expert and CEO of the American Happiness Association (yes, they have one), who was part of a study conducted by Hilton HHonors, the loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide (the global hospitality company). They partnered with city study experts Sperling’s Best Places to find the 10 happiest destinations for winter travel in America. And coming in at number four (drumroll) is the “Napa-Sonoma” region of California.
Despite the fact that the study regarded our two separate and distinct wine countries as some kind of conjoined twin, which will make some Sonomans unhappy, it does beg the question, “What is happiness in the first place?” For the answer, I went straight to the top and asked Coget via email.
“Happiness can mean different things to different people, but in general, science defines happiness as ‘subjective well-being,’ which really means leaving it up to our own personal responsibility to determine how we feel,” Coget replied. “In a broader sense, happiness can be understood as a few different things, including positive emotions, positive mood, resiliency, contentment or fulfillment and states of bliss and joy. All of these can make us feel happy.”
This gave me the impression that stewing in one’s bathrobe whilst watching daytime television might not cut it. But what if ... We threw in a box of wine? I asked – well, sorta:
“In your opinion, does imbibing wine contribute to a sense of happiness?” I asked Coget. “Obviously, it flows in abundance in the ‘Napa-Sonoma’ region. At which point, when drinking wine, does happiness begin and end? For me, it ends the next morning in the cold light of day but then, I’m not scientist. Seriously, however, is moderation a consideration for sustaining happiness?”
Coget replied, “If drinking wine brings you to a state of bliss and joy – then drinking wine can make you happy! It all depends on the type of happiness you are looking for that will determine what gets you there. People who want excitement see moderation as a boring restriction of that excitement, which would lead to unhappiness. For those who consider happiness to be inner contentment, then moderation is what they seek because it helps with the contentment.”
There you go, Sonoma. Doctor’s orders (not really). Obviously, my intentional misapprehension of the good doctor’s prescription for happiness won’t stand-up in court but then, depending on your level of “happiness,” you might not be standing either. The point being, you’re responsible for your own happiness, Sonoma. And even if our freakishly sunny weather has cured your Seasonal Affective Disorder, you still might consider doffing the bathrobe and enjoying the effects of climate change. You know, before the groundhogs evolve into the dominant species and force us to labor in the shadow of their happiness.
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Daedalus Howell offers eternal happiness at DaedalusHowell.com.