There is plenty written and researched about happiness. A quick Google search may be all you need to learn some basic tips such as keeping a Gratitude Journal or carrying out small acts of service. Ultimately, the conclusion is that happiness is an inside job rarely associated with circumstances around us.

Harvard conducted one of the longest studies ever in researching: What makes a good life? They called it The Harvard Study of Adult Development. For 75 years they tracked the lives of a group of men by getting their medical records, interviewing them and their close relatives, drawing blood, etc, in an attempt to measure their overall well being. The conclusion was that nothing keeps someone as healthy and strong as good relationships. Isolation and loneliness is actually quite toxic for humans, as their brains go into decline faster. The upside of these results is knowing what it is we need to do for our overall well being and personal success. The downside is that many other studies have brought to light the fact that America and most western cultures have faced a crisis in loneliness. There is such a thing as feeling lonely in a crowd or even in a family.

 

Mother Teresa once said “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” Her work in the developed world was not aimed at filling stomachs (even though, to this day the Missionaries of Charity run soup kitchens all over the world.), but at filling hearts. She accomplished so through undivided attention and a constant practice of charity that made everyone she encountered feel loved and cared for.

 

 

We can agree that this is an ongoing struggle, but the past year has exacerbated it through the current pandemic, and even though the end date of this challenge seems unclear at the moment, our health, happiness, and overall well-being is still a priority.

Coffee farms are usually located in remote places. Nearby towns are small and remote in themselves. The type of places with one or two gas stations and one church. Farmers are certainly isolated, but rarely lonely or unhappy. Here are some tips from farmers on how to isolate without sacrificing your well being:

 

  Few deep friendships

 

Don’t forget that this is not about not seeing people precisely, it is about avoiding large crowds where one or more may be sick. Social circles in coffee farms and towns are small simply due to the population size, but even in a large city, your community may be fairly tight. Stay in close contact and instead of attending large parties and concerts (until you feel comfortable with it) reach out for one on one coffee dates. They are practical as they require less money and elaborate preparation than treating someone for a meal, even though that is a great idea as well. Coffee dates don’t need to involve a trip to your local coffee shop. I want to encourage you to invite people to your place and make a special coffee together. Whether that is a cappuccino, an affogato, or flavored coffee -you won’t go wrong. The experience in itself is bonding and of great artistic value. Not to mention, that you get to enjoy the final product and share it with others. Here are some recipes the Guadalupe team particularly loves.

 

     Be aware of the local needs

 

Looking outwardly is a humbling experience, and humility is required for happiness. Perhaps following up from the previous point, having one on one time with people will open your eyes to the local needs. Whether that is large initiatives necessary in your community or a particular someone needing a meal drive. There is plenty to be done. The social dynamics around coffee farms are shaped by interdependence. It is common that governments and local police cannot protect farmers from a bad harvest, local gangs and guerrilla groups, or any other major threat, so they are left with taking care of each other. It is this dynamic that has opened the doors to fair trade coffee, as an invitation for coffee consumers to join in and care for the needs and well being of people we are connected to through our coffee.

 

      Spending time outdoors with others

 

Science keeps highlighting this ancient tip time and time again. Few things are better for humans than spending time outside with others. Whether that is a picnic, a cup of coffee in the terraces, a hike, or any other athletic activity; these activities have proven to raise the levels of happiness and overall well-being of humans. Even in the cold, these activities will benefit you, and I want to encourage you to do it with others, as sometimes we may need the kind invitation in order to be motivated to leave the comfort of home. At coffee farms and towns, usually the lack of air conditioner and the warm weather are enough reasons to go outside and enjoy the refreshing breeze. What makes it even better, is that everyone else followed the cue and suddenly you’ve got yourself a party.

The main point I want to get across today is: we need each other. Science says so, but with data aside, our own human experiences are a testament to the beauty and joy we can cause in each other. Something that things can’t fulfil. If you’d like to live a long, happy, and healthy life, start by calling a friend, making some coffee, and please share it outside.

 


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