What Makes the Happiest People

Jenna - Winthrop, Washington
Entered on May 28, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I have always known the advantages of having money. It was always there when I needed it. All I had to do was ask. But most of the time, I tried to earn my keep. I grew up near San Francisco where I had everything I could ever want available to me. I lived directly in the middle of a long stretch of road that either took you to the beautiful Point Reyes Seashore or to the magnificent city across the Golden Gate Bridge.

However, my house was located on a horse ranch that consisted of about 70 acres of fields and dirt stables. I remember being about five years old, waking up at the crack of dawn, climbing onto the old rusty yellow feed truck, that my father once drove, to help feed the horses. I remember the smell of hay and oats as I sat in the back, the wind beating on my face, the cold morning air piercing my skin. The look on my dads face every time he threw a flake of hay or poured a bucket of grain will forever be etched in my mind.

A simple life is what I believe makes the happiest people.

Growing up on a horse ranch was an experience I will always cherish. For sixteen years of my life I was surrounded by my entire family: parents, sister, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and even crazy friends that have been around so long that they are now considered relatives. I had an entire support system living within the same town. And every summer the family would gather together at my grandparents’ cabin in Lake Pillsbury for a week or two in order to get away from their hectic lifestyles.

These vacations are what taught me to believe in simplicity.

The family cabin is tucked away in a little forest. There is no television. There are kerosene lamps and lights that can only be turned on if the generator is going. There is very little hot water and only my grandparents sleep inside. Ever since I have been going there, pitching the tent and hearing all the sounds of the night has been my favorite part. I looked forward to being timed in the shower and being the fastest, which meant I was saving hot water for the others. I loved the “KP” (Kitchen Patrol) duty and the morning inspection of our sleeping area. I lived for hanging up freshly washed clothes on the clothes line that was stretched across five giant pine trees. I wanted nothing more than to sit outside in the hammock, read my book, and take in the peaceful atmosphere. I thrived on not being able to run to the market and get whatever it was that we needed.

I believe that simple is best. If we all lived in concrete jungles where there are hundreds of stores and things to choose from right at our fingertips, we would forget about the small things in life that tend to make us so happy. We wouldn’t know how to survive without shopping malls or ATMs. I believe it is important to appreciate what we have instead of always wanting more or being disappointed because of all the things we don’t have.

I believe in simple living.