Can Surfing Make You Happy?

by Bev Sanders on August 12, 2010

Julia Roberts travels the world in search of bliss in Eat, Pray, Love and the New York Times asks “But Will It Make You Happy”- is it better to spend on stuff or get out and have an experience? It’s no surprise that the quest for “true happiness” is the mission du jour.

“This actually is a topic that hasn’t been researched very much until recently,” says Elizabeth Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right. ”It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea.”

These days, going to a women’s surf camp may seem like a stretch, but I believe in encouraging women to stand up for their happiness- on a surfboard. Here’s why:

The year I learned to surf changed my life. It restored confidence that I hadn’t felt since I was a young girl. That same year I left my job as VP of a snowboard company to pursue my goal to ”make girls out of women’. That was 14 years ago.

The connection I made with the ocean has been essential. I realized that I was part of something vast and powerful. That put a smile on my face and empowered me to share my experience with others. And surfing in Mexico also exposed me to a very happy culture. When I asked a young surfer friend what he does after surfing, he proudly replied, “I fish and my mom cooks.” No surprise, I’ve had many dinners at his house.

Trade in my fancy shoes and designer purse for flip-flops and a recycled bag? Sure! Surfing down south also taught me how to happily live with less. And when I returned home, I suddenly started saying “I don’t need that”, and guess what? I’m happy about it.

It’s been a few months since our last safari of the season. I’ve been back just long enough to start checking out Zappos again. November safaris can’t come soon enough.

Surfing works for me, but happiness is something you’ll discover all on your own. I hope I can help.

Bev Sanders

Photo above: Las Olas Surf Coach, Katie

Photo by Lori Adamaski Peek

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