I saw most of a documentary tonight on KCTS, Seattle’s local public television. It was simply titled “Happy” and covered several cultures in search of what makes us happy. Their conclusion was familiar to me.

I have always thought we were social creatures, our lives depending on each other for survival. There is a whole segment of evolutionary theory concerned with group fitness and altruism that takes for granted that we would never have survived into maturity without each other. The documentary concluded that not only is social interaction necessary for survival, it is also responsible for our happiness and longevity.

Okinawa, Japan has the highest centenarians per capita in the world. The more industrialized parts of japan are suffering from a wave of deaths at the workplace due to sleep deprivation and stress. The difference is the focus on community and social connectivity versus the focus on economic success. The residents of Okinawa farm for part of the day, then go to town where they share tea, participate in cultural activities, and care for each other. The residents of Tokyo work long hours and are constantly bombared with the need for economic success at the cost of families and even lives.

In Okinawa there was a gaggle of old ladies sitting together being interviewed. One mentioned that her husband was lost in the war and she has no other family, but she never feels alone because her neighbors are always there to care for her and interact with her. Not one of the old people shown were walking with canes or feeble in any way. It was inspiring to watch and vindicating for me, who has always been so hell bent on social interaction, that even statistical analysis upheld the hypothesis that we get our happiness not from how much money we earn but from how much love we receive.

It seems intuitive, does it not? And yet here we find ourselves in an industry that trades economic success for social interaction. The providers of Seattle, and specifically of TRB, pride themselves not on how perfectly their hair is curled or how red their lips are, but on how well we make our callers feel when they are with us. We are both naturally skilled and self taught to give much needed care and attention. Many reviews we see on TRB focus primarily on how genuine and caring the providers are and keep the physical interaction on the down-low. More indicative than reviews are the little quips and back-and-forths between providers and the men who see them. There is more than a quick lay going on and it’s no suprise it’s a huge industry despite its legal status.

I, for one, consider myself priveleged to have made my way, finally, to Seattle and to this line of work. I’ve talked about how I love it, how the giving of pleasure makes me deeply happy both in the moment and when I look back on it. This documentary resonated with me. It validated my chosen work. It made me excited about my upcoming week, full of the joy of helping my friends realize the power of a moment of relaxation and of adoration. I reccomend watching it as a reminder to take time for yourself. If you don’t have time to watch it, see my previous reccomendation.