If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.
— Chinese Proverb
Yesterday, March 20th, marked the second annual International Day of Happiness. In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to celebrate happiness and encourage people to share things that make them happy. According to the resolution, “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”.
So what makes up happiness? Researchers have found that our genes account for approximately half of our happiness levels. That is, we are born with a genetic set point or range that determines about 50% of our happiness level. So when we go through periods of significant joy or pain, after time we generally return to our genetic set point of happiness. Surprisingly, as little as 10% of our happiness is said to be determined by our life circumstances—income level, social status, job, etc. This leaves a 40%-opportunity to learn to be more joyful by doing things we know will bring us happiness. Shawn Achor, happiness researcher, says “you can teach yourself optimism and happiness just like you teach yourself a new language, you’ll be just your genes unless you make positive habits in your life.”
As this post marks my 100th post, I thought I’d invite you to help me celebrate it and International Day of Happiness, and also the arrival of spring by sharing things that make you happy. The UN’s Happiness Day is about the fact that happiness really matters. It’s also about growing people by increasing human happiness and well-being—my hope for this blog.
So what makes you happy? Is it spending time with family and friends, delicious food, beautiful weather, or perhaps traveling? For me, it’s all of the above and more, and almost any dish with black beluga, the caviar of lentils.
Lemon Capellini With Black Beluga Lentils
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
1 pound dried capellini
¼-½ cup olive oil
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper pepper
1-2 cups cooked black lentils
zest of 1 lemon, for garnish
Drizzle some olive oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the capellini and cook al dente. Drain quickly, leaving a little water with the capellini. Quickly toss the capellini with the about ¼ cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If necessary, add more olive oil.
Place one serving of pasta on each plate and top with a large dollop of black lentils. Garnish with grated lemon zest. Serve immediately.