How Rocks Taught Me about Happiness

Painted Hills By: Chelsea Ware

A little while ago I found out that I needed two more science credits to fulfill the requirements for that portion of my degree. My academic advisor told me about one-credit lab classes that consist of trips around Oregon where students learn about the natural environment. One of the one-credit classes I signed up for was a geology camping trip in central Oregon. As a business student, I didn’t expect this class to have a huge impact on my learning. I was very wrong.

During the day, a tour bus took us to different locations throughout rural Grant County, near John Day where we dug for fossils and hiked on scenic trails. At night, we cooked dinner by campfire and made s’mores. My favorite part of the trip was taking a two-mile hike through the Painted Hills. Listed as one of Oregon’s seven wonders, they get their name from the delicately colored yellow, gold, black and red stratifications in the soil.

As someone who grew up in the city, this trip had a vast influence on how I see the world. The residents of Grant County sometimes lived miles apart and many of the towns had populations under 200. There were no malls and no cell reception, yet the people were so content and happy. I think a lot of people base their happiness on material possessions, such as owning the latest IPhone. But maybe the reason we feel like we always need more is that once we’ve bought that thing, we quickly realize that it didn’t make us as happy after all. This leads people to get lost in an endless cycle of materialism that is difficult to escape. Through my trip, I learned that true happiness comes from the simple things, like a panoramic view of the mountains at dusk or cooking sausages over a fire with friends. True happiness comes from things that can’t be bought from a store.

The Seven Wonders of Oregon can be found at: http://traveloregon.com/7wonders/

Affordable camping gear for PSU students is available through the PSU Outdoor Program: http://www.pdx.edu/recreation/outdoor-program

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