Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Some people are blessed with a sunny demeanour and seem to take everything life throws at them with a smile. But for many others, happiness is merely transient.
Since the Covid crisis shackled normal human behaviour, a group calling itself Action for Happiness has been trying to encourage that desirable but elusive state. These like-minded people connected by social media, believe happiness can be cultivated and sustained by anyone.
Action for Happiness has encouraged the opening throughout the world of Happy Cafes, refuges from everyday life where patrons can slow down, relax and refocus. Coffee and cake certainly, but the main ingredient on the menu is what they call “mindfulness.” Now they have an outpost in North Cyprus.
Bubbly and warm-hearted, Canev Tatar is an ideal ambassador for goodness. Her Happy Cafe in Bellapais is washed in cool pastels, one side open to the seemingly infinite greenery of the valley below. The bookshelves carry children’s stories and art history, sprinkled with a bit of philosophy. Upstairs is a big, sunlit studio where youngsters can try artwork.
Canev explains: “Mindfulness is to be in the moment. Because our minds have not evolved that way, we think of the past and the future, not the present. I want this place to be like a practise centre, like when you are drinking your tea, delve into it and make that moment the priority in your life. Happy people become more productive. If people are more happy, more mindful, everything will be better.”
Canev takes guidance from the Action for Happiness website but in truth, she hardly needs it. An artist and children’s author in her own right, she posts her own delightful cartoons on the walls alongside other messages of encouragement. Also on the table you will find The Happy News, a colourful “good news” newspaper, far removed from the usual stories of intrique and disaster. Sample headlines: “New hope for cancer sufferers,” and “Wild tiger population on the increase.”
“The newspapers are full of bad news. They make you fear life. I see people are looking for something different. People come here with their families and I see them pay attention to their children, or couples practise listening.
“I want this place to be welcoming for all emotions. Sometimes I see people come here crying because there is something emotional in their life. Sometimes we all feel sad, it comes, it goes, like happiness, so maybe we should use the word happiness consisting of all this, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, it’s all okay.”
For some lucky people, happiness is literally a piece of cake. Canev’s homemade offerings are, she says “a gift from the universe, rain supported, soil supported, a chain of oneness that serves your happiness.”
Happy Cafe is on the Bellapais Road, near the English School of Kyrenia.