“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

What brings you happiness? A meal with family, drinks with friends, skipping rocks over a lake, Netflix and chill….

Whatever it is that brings you happiness was made possible by the ocean. Today – World Ocean Day – is one for reconnecting with the ocean, as it connects us all. It regulates the Earth’s temperature, feeds the world, provides us much of the air we breathe, allows us to transport products around the world, and provides many people with their livelihoods. Throughout history the ocean’s mystery has also given inspiration to language, folklore, stories and religion.

Explorers have braved the unknown ocean waters in search of new lands, uniting communities connected by oceans. The names of goddesses and mothers believed to nurture and sustain us, derive from the Latin word “mer” for mother. The Virgin Mother Mary, depicted in blue and white, the colors of waves and foam, is believed to be the connector of all.

7,000 years ago, the Chumash Native Americans traveled over the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, and before they could even see the expansive Pacific Ocean, they heard the powerful rhythmic sound of the ocean. They settled near the ocean and called their village, Humaliwu, meaning “where the surf sounds loudly.” That village is now known as Malibu and the sound of the surf continues to remind us that we are not only connected to each other but to our past and our present.

Man looking at the ocean on World Ocean Day

What do you feel when you gaze at, touch, or smell the ocean? Use World Ocean Day to reconnect with that.

I deeply believe that we are all connected because of our ocean. As it connects us and provides us with life, I thought I would share a few simple suggestions to give thanks and connect with the ocean:

1. Take a walk. Breathe deeply and note that every other breath was created by the ocean.

2. Create less waste. (~4% of global plastic waste leaks – intentionally and accidentally – into our oceans)

3. Listen to the sound of the ocean. Put a shell to your ear (or a cup works, because the ocean is there too 🙂 Listen quietly and think of the sea .

4. Drink more water.

5. Watch a sweet nature film like My Octopus Teacher.

6. Read World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Each chapter is a stand alone essay where Nezhukumatathil beautifully ties together her personal memories and community with nature and science.

7. Recall the first time you saw the ocean, lake, river or even a pool, and how that made you feel.

There are so many beautiful and simple happy moments to be had because of our oceans. We are so grateful to all that bring us happiness by helping to protect our oceans – not just on World Ocean Day, but every day. We will continue to protect our oceans from plastic pollution so that you and your communities have many happy moments forever.

Julie Andersen is the CEO of Plastic Oceans International and a lifelong public health advocate focused on the communication of science and disruption of societal barriers to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects industrial development.