By Brittany Allen

One Community Health celebrates 30 years with 31 days of happiness



TO-DO AND ENJOY LIST: One Community Health offers this calendar of enriching things to do for October.

Fall, though many people's favorite season because of the associated colorful leaves and seasonal beverages, is also a tough time for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

According to an article by Linda Pourmassina, M.D., published in The Seattle Times in November of 2014, SAD is "[m]ore common in higher northern latitudes (like Seattle) and in women, SAD is thought to be caused by a decrease in exposure to natural sunlight, which leads to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain," thus making the Pacific Northwest a hotbed for not-so-hot mental deficiencies.

Another demographic commonly affected by this disorder and other like it are veterans. So much so that Veterans Affairs sells full spectrum lamps to vets with SAD and PTSD at vet-friendly prices. At the VA Health Care Clinic in The Dalles, for locals, these lights sell for a fraction of the normal price.

With days turning shorter and grayer and weather growing colder, October, therefore, seems all too fitting to participate in a month of happiness.

This year, marks 30 years of business for One Community Health (OCH), and they've chosen to celebrate by doing what they feel they do best: helping people.

According to OCH, "happiness is good for your health," so they've dedicated an entire month to improving people's lives through three daily "habits:" "gratitudes, acts of kindness, and moments of silence."

Though they did not intentionally plan the event with specific people-such as those suffering from SAD-in mind, Emily Reed, who works in creative strategy and event planning and has been involved in promoting this event, says the daily habits can be beneficial for such individuals and others suffering from depression.

"We'd like people to be able to tap into these things," Reed said. "Those are the three things that often times, if someone has depression on a larger scale, that's what they often recommend them do. So it's not meant to be a hugely serious public health thing, but they are the items and the actions that seriously depressed people are often guided to do. It helps everybody."

According to Reed, several businesses around the Gorge have hopped on board and agreed to surprise customers with free merchandise or their staff with fun activities in order to boost happiness levels in their communities. She also says this happiness has been found to lead to better productivity levels.

"There are some really great studies out there," Reed said. "And they've found that people that are happier live longer and are healthier, and are also more productive at work."

During the first week in October, OCH will be launching their event Gorge-wide with kick-off parties at the Hood River Library Friday September on 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., The Dalles City Park /Farmers' Market on Saturday, October 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Goldendale Library on Saturday, October 1 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Stevenson Library on Sunday, October 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

These kick-off parties will invite people to come pick up a calendar (like the one pictured), eat ice cream, and participate in a project being called "Meet a Future Friend." This project matches people-even people one normally wouldn't suspect would "click"-and creates a friendship.

People will also be encouraged to take an online survey called the Happiness Index Survey, which will evaluate their levels of happiness within different aspects of their lives and show them how their answers compare to others around the world.

OCH also plans to follow up with people throughout the month, following some people individually to see how their happiness is affected. Then, at the end of the month, OCH will send a sort of culmination video to individuals who have opted into this part of the event and also use the Happiness Index Survey results to look at how the Gorge fairs in regards to happiness levels in comparison to other parts of the world.

Besides following the habits and activities on the calendar, people are encouraged to do things such as host events, host happiness groups with fellow participants, and "simply help spread the word" during Gorge Happiness Month.

"My hope is that we have a lot of people doing it and picking it up and having fun with it. And that it becomes part of the daily conversation," Reed said. " I do firmly believe that we know it works and it would be fabulous if at the end we have a good portion of the Gorge who are genuinely happy."

For more information about Gorge Happiness Month or other ways you can participate, visit


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