Ask one hundred people what makes them unhappy and you’ll probably get answers that fall into a few themes. Having someone close to you die. Losing a job, flunking out of school. Being furloughed. (I couldn’t resist throwing in that last one.)
But ask one hundred people what makes them happy and you could well get one hundred different answers. Some of them might even look at you quizzically and say they haven’t really thought about it. I would have probably answered that way. When I was growing up, I remember my father saying that he didn’t think you should ever be happy. If you were, he said, then you were standing still instead of moving yourself forward.
In my thirties, I might have responded that I didn’t have time to be happy; that I was just trying to get through my day between my work and our kids. My career took off when I was in my fifties; my memories of that time are a blurred mixture of exhaustion and stress, being on the road and away from my family far more than I wanted to be.
Of course, I had wonderful times during each of those periods of my life. My life has been rich with joy and fun and serenity and happiness—but those were dispersed haphazardly in my day-to-day life.
So here I am now, at sixty-three, really thinking about what would make me happy in my days. Not the Christmas-morning happy, just the “I’m in a good place happy.” A couple years ago I embarked on a path to lose weight and follow a healthy lifestyle. I have decided to add onto that goal. I want to follow a healthy, happy lifestyle. I am going to spend some time figuring out what that is.
I had a very happy day last Friday. Our very small church has committed to providing lunch at City Gospel Mission every month. Because we are so small, we knew we wouldn’t be able to make the lunch ourselves—the same people would be tapped every month. However, one of our fellow churchgoers has a couple Marco’s Pizza franchises. We decided to treat the residents and staff to pizza and salad. I picked up the salad ingredients and helped serve. These guys love—I mean truly love—pizza day. They just grin from ear to ear. It took twelve minutes for them to go through twenty large pizzas. It just made my day. Giving back, helping someone find their smile. That’s definitely something that makes me happy.
I do think it is good to appreciate the gift of each day and find your happy. I’m going to keep working on it and I hope you do as well.