Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Happy Jumping People Pictures, Images and Photos
My eighty-two year old aunt Hilda can make you laugh at the silliest things. When one asks about her pain from severe arthritis she immediately lets you know she'd rather not talk about pain, then she laughs at one of her own ridiculous jokes.

Max is a young man who smiles and always has something good to report about his day. Max's mother abandoned him when he was a few months old. His father neglected and abused him until Max had to be removed and placed in a foster home. He is developmentally delayed, has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. Nothing in his life thus far, has prevented him from spilling his joy.

We all know people like that, they just can't help being happy. It is the most distinct aspect of their personalities. They're not artificially cheerful, they just embody happiness no matter how life has treated them.

Unfortunately, we're not all like that.

After some contemplation I have come to one conclusion: happiness is not a constant companion. In order to possess it, we need to cultivate it within ourselves and watch it multiply in intensity and frequency.

I remember once writing about random acts of kindness, and proposing that although random kindness is wonderful - intentional, purposeful, and planned kindness may be even better. I'm beginning to think happiness is similar. That we can do it with intention, on purpose and with some planning. But maybe we need to start with random acts of happiness just to start creating a habit.

My recommendations? dance, sing, observe nature, smile, be still if that suits you. Take note that all these things are free and need not be pursued. We already have these little things at our disposal and probably just need to practice them more often to enhance our happiness quotient.

But, if you're like me, you may tell yourself that you'll be truly happy when...something fantastic happens. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. But if I am so intent on some future outcome, I may miss all the little opportunities for happiness along the way. The journey is worth enjoying as much as the destination. It has been found that often when we reach what we considered the pie in the sky, it's a disappointment or we find another pie to go after. So maybe there is a lot to be said for those little things.

Our U.S. founding fathers ensured that we have the right to pursue happiness. Funny they never said we have the right to happiness. It seems they knew something profound - that happiness is like a game of hide and seek to which we are all addicted. And when we taste its substance, we just want more, more. Perhaps its because, as some profess, we are meant to be happy and we are seeking our true nature. Or perhaps, its just part of the yin/yang that complements its opposite in the script of our existence. The fact remains - pursue it we must with or without a national constitution.

I read somewhere that these are the secrets to a happy life:
connecting socially
being active
being mindful
continuing to learn
being generous

They all seem like worthy factors. Based on this, I should be pretty happy. Yet, there are times when happiness disappears like a magical illusion, like a floating balloon that gets swallowed by the sky only to surprise me again sometime when I least expect it - life performing random acts of kindness.

Because it is so elusive, we must enjoy it when it is here. To me this means being on the alert for its arrival and nurturing it so it will stay a little longer in this moment. We must invite it back, and allow it to be creative wherever it dwells - perhaps in places we never thought of pursuing it.

I recall my grandmother always reminding me that there is no such thing as true and complete happiness. I thought she was just bitter at life and that may be so. But as I dig deeper into what I know, I realize that she was right. But we need not frame this so negatively.

Happiness seems to occur in glimpses, some lasting longer than others. Inevitably it fades. Meanwhile it is good to wallow in gratitude, thank life for the moment and enjoy.


"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate."
Thornton Wilder


  1. Dear Myrna:

    Thanks for this lovely and uplifting post. I read somewhere that human beings are naturally sad and pessimistic people so it does take a great deal to be happy and cheerful. In today's world, it is easier to give oneself to gloom and despair. So, happiness is something that has to be cultivated and practiced.

    Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness. --George Santayana

    Myrna, I wish you eternal happiness, everlasting peace and abundant joy always.

    Have a great remainder of the week.

    Big hugs and much love,

  2. i like the thought that it needs to be cultivated b.c i agree...happiness starts with a choice...there is so much to take it away if we dont choose will be chosen for us...

  3. i like how you look at this and totally agree - we need to cultivate happiness in our lives - it doesn't just come by itself - we have to prepare the soil so it can grow...nice!

  4. The Elvis' of the world have proven that happiness doesn't come from having a lot of stuff, a lot of fame or a lot of money...maybe happiness does come from just knowing to eat our icecream when we have it. That said this blog has given me something to think about and for that I'm grateful. Thanks Myrna.

  5. I agree - happiness is a choice, is a state of mind.. is intangible and its free therefore we can have it at any time! nobody will provide it, nothing has it, is totally up to us to feel it. What a great post Myrna!

  6. "...wallow in gratitude" I like this! I find that the more I concentrate on being thankful for what I have, the more content I am. And being content leads to happiness for me.

    The story you tell of Max is so touching. When I hear about people like him I wonder if they know some sort of secret the rest of us don't know. I wonder if I would have the courage to be so joyful if I were in the same situation.

  7. Beautifully put Myrna and touching, as always. I never fail to find something uplifting in your posts. :)