Five ways to get HAPPY in the Okanagan

If you want to become happier, you can! Rather than waiting for it to happen to you, why not make it happen to you? Psychology and science have come up with some surprising things you can do to lift your spirits this spring and the

year coming. What better place to do them but in the Okanagan? Here are a few proven tips to try.

Photo credit: Destination BC, Andre Strain

l. Being around water makes us happy—whether you’re walking beside it, paddling on it, swimming in it or scuba diving under its surface. Water makes us calm and connects us to nature. What better place to experience how water improves your well being than the Okanagan? With all of our lakes and rivers to choose from, you’re bound to have a favourite. In the north, many water lovers adore Kalamalka Lake with its distinctive blue and green hues caused by minerals that form crystals and reflect sunlight in the summer. The gorgeous lake is located in Kalamalka Provincial Park, with a unique landscape and rare, endangered wildlife. Massive Okanagan Lake can be enjoyed from many vantage points, but in Kelowna, many people like Bertram Creek Regional Park on Lakeshore Road past Cedar Creek Winery. The well-groomed 17.9 hectare park features walking paths, many amenities, a swimming and boat beach. Vaseux Lake in the South Okanagan is also a very special body of water. Located in a provincial park, it is a national bird sanctuary, and backed by bluffs inhabited by California bighorn sheep. (And it’s got great shing!)

2.You’ll be happier spending your money on experiences rather than things.

You’ll look forward to them with anticipation, whereas waiting for something you ordered, you might simply be impatient. You’ll also be more pleased with your experience because you can’t really compare it to others, while you can certainly compare things. And while the memory of an experience lives on, material purchases deteriorate.

The ultimate Okanagan experiences to lift your spirits is to attend one of our many festivals and fairs. Spread the happiness by bringing family and friends...and bring lots of cameras and selfie sticks. You’re going to need them for all the fun you’re going to have.

There are family and children’s festivals, cowboy and music festivals,—even an Elvis festival. We’re especially fond of naming festivals after just about every fruit you can think of...cherry, peach, grape, and tomato. The Okanagan has nature festivals, salmon festivals, beer festivals, festivals of lights and festivals of trees. And the beauty of all these events is that most of them are free! How happy does that make you?

3. Savour the good things in life to increase your joy... especially the food and wine experience!

What better place to celebrate exceptionally good wine and food than in the Okanagan? We’re very fortunate to live in a region that is becoming internationally famous for both its vino and its cuisine. In the Okanagan you’ll find 200+ wineries (as well as cideries, breweries and distilleries). Bring your family and friends and visit them, not just for tasting but also for the experience! Every winery has its own character, “story”, unique setting and of course characteristic wines...get to know your favourites. Many wineries also have world-class restaurants, so you can combine your love of both. You can even take cooking classes at some of these wineries.

Keep your eye out all summer for special foodie events that pop up. They’re pretty spectacular. You can dine in an orchard at a long communal table eating amazing dishes prepared from local produce by rock star chefs. You can visit a farm that has been taken over by chefs and winemakers offering samples of incredible fare at food stations among the trees. If you’re lucky you can even become part of a thousand or so lucky folks who show up at a secret location each summer all dressed in white to eat dinner, drink wine and celebrate life in the Okanagan summer!

And don’t forget to visit Okanagan Farmer’s Markets. Every town has one. Here you’ll find local produce, artisanal food products and occasionally some wine or spirits to sample. It’s easy to go home and realize that every dish you make for your meal can be made of local ingredients.

4. Happy people know the importance of “chilling” and how to do it.

The Okanagan is the perfect place for beating stress. There are many talented massage specialists here in the Valley. You may know one; if not ask a friend for a referral. Or why not book an appointment at one of the many fine spas throughout the Valley? You’ll find every type of massage you want ranging from gentle Swedish relaxation to aromatherapy to hot stone to deep tissue and shiatsu, guaranteed to get out the knots. Some practitioners are offering their own unique blends of different styles. And...don’t forget to add some special facial treatments or body wraps if you feel so inclined!

Ah, yoga. Studies show that yoga practitioners experience high states of well being. There are many knowledgeable yoga instructors in the Okanagan, offering various methods of the practice. You’ll be able to easily find a teacher you like, a style you prefer, a venue that suits you (from a recreation class to a devoted studio), and at a level that makes you comfortable.

As for the South Okanagan, even though it has great spas and yoga places, for chilling, we had to choose floating down the Okanagan River Channel. For the whole family, floating down the channel in inner tubes from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Penticton and a favorite for fun summer activities for kids. The river channel is about 7 km (just over 4 miles) long, with a rest stop at the halfway point, at Green Mountain Road.

5. People who help people are happier and healthier, and volunteering is a great way to do it.

Offer to assist someone you know— help them buy groceries, drive them around, look after their kids or pets. If you want to get more involved, you need only look around your community.

Volunteer at any SPCA in the Okanagan Valley. Find out how you can get involved in volunteering for many community events like the Penticton Triathlon Challenge or the Vernon Winter Carnival. Find out what you can do at the hospital or hospice. You’ll wake up in the morning with a purpose!

#okanagan #happy #family #festivals #lakes

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