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Secrets of happiness: LonelyPlanet lessons from around the world

January 10, 2012

I’ve read one of Lonely Planets recent books “Happy” recently and have been fascinated to read the ways others find happiness. From riding yourself of physical or mental clutter to get your life back under control through to giving away things you value, this book covers it all.  Suggestions for mind, body and spirit are here. As I blog about some places, I will tell you their secret.  In this first, mention of the book, here is a quote from it: it’s about Ramadan which is says is in Egypt – of course it’s celebrated around the world, more particularly in Islamic countries. The only country I have been in during the month-long period is Malaysia and I was happy to be involved in their time of reflection – it has its own chapter in my book Naked In Budapest: travels with passionate nomad.

Happy - a Lonely Planet publication

Lonely Planet says here is their secret:

DISCIPLINE IS NOT A DIRTY WORD SECRET: Go without to appreciate what you have

Tradition: Ramadan

Date: September, October or November

Celebrated in: Egypt

Wouldn’t it be good to stop and take stock? For one month every year, Muslims in Egypt and across the world do just that, turning the tables on the pursuit of more and being prepared to go without. From dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, not a morsel of food or a drop of water will pass the lips of Egyptian Muslims as a reminder of how lucky they are to possess what they have.

It is a time of deep reflection on the blessings of life, where all – rich and poor, young and old – become equal.

You don’t need to be a Muslim to carry out a fast. But if it all seems too extreme, why not deny yourself that extra cappuccino or muffin for a month, and put the money saved towards a favourite good cause. You’ll soon find yourself smiling at the multitude of blessings you actually have.

These are edited extracts from Happy: Secrets to Happiness from the Cultures of the World © Lonely Planet 2011. RRP: $25. lonelyplanet.com.

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