View From The Glen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I was motivated by Christine at Coffee and Commutes to write about happiness. Ever since reading her blog post yesterday, I have been singing this song from You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. And I think it really gets to the heart of what happiness is:

Happiness is finding a pencil,
Pizza with Sausage,
Telling the time.
Happiness is learning to whistle,
Tying your shoes for the very first time.
Happiness is playing the drums in your own school band
And happiness is walking hand-in-hand.

Happiness is two kinds of ice cream,
Knowing a secret,
Climbing a tree
Happiness is five different crayons,
Catching a firefly,
Setting him free.
Happiness is being alone every now and then,
And happiness is coming home again

Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime too.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.

We often speak of happiness as being elusive, as being something we need to pursue, to find, to grab hold of when we can because it will slip away again so quickly. We can know we are happy without always feeling it. This is something I've discussed with my book club before - everything is good, everything is happy, but where is that sense of euphoria that we associate with happiness?

When I look around me, at my children, at their friends, at family parties, at the lambs, at the dog - well, the truth is, they are all the epitome of happy. They don't find happiness elusive or hard to find. They just are happy.

It made me wonder, what do they know that we adults don't?

As many of the wonderful comments on Christine's blog point out, happiness is a state of mind. It's never about the big things in life, though they can make us happy (think a wedding, a baby's birth). In fact it is often the smallest things that bring the most happiness to our lives. And I think where kids (and yes the lambs and even the dog) have the edge on us is that they are not trying to capture happiness. It's like sand, the harder you try to clench your hand around it, the more it escapes. 
Perhaps in our adult world where (let's face it) there are so many other things to think about - what's for dinner? did I sign those forms? why doesn't he want to go to music camp? how can I squeeze in a trip to the dentist between school and karate? - it's easier to lose track of the present moment. And happiness is all about being present in the moment.

Think about the moments that have truly made you happy recently? For me it's not the raise at work, or the editing contract I got. It's not paying off the car loan, or even the new windows I'm finally putting in my ancient farmhouse. Rather, it's other smaller, more important things:

  • the sun that streams through the window in the morning;
  • the single cup thermos of coffee my husband always leaves for me next to the bed despite the fact that he gets up and leaves at 4:30 am every morning;
  • saying good morning to the cows, sheep, llama and sheep dog as I cross the field for my morning run;
  • getting morning hugs, kisses, artwork, from the children, and those moments when we amuse ourselves so much that we fall over in a big laughing heap together;
  • watching the kids play and laugh and run, all long limbs and smiles;
  • watching the lambs skipping, seeing the daffodils poking through the dirt, and feeling the breeze blow gently across the veranda.
  • the taste of a glass of shiraz on a Friday evening; the pleasure of a new book and a weekend ahead
  • brushing my children's freshly washed hair and telling stories together before tucking them into bed
  • the quiet of the house when everyone is asleep and safe and together
Wouldn't it be great if we could get everyone to stop and think about what makes them happy? Christine challenged her readers to write their own happiness post, and I'm going to do the same. You know who you are. Don't forget to leave a comment on Christine's blog too.


Anonymous said...

Really, really liked your post. I'm honoured to have inspired it. You've totally caught on, this just expands on what I was trying to say, so thank you!

It really is all about being present in the moment isn't it. By being present, that's when we allow ourselves happiness, free from the pressures and responsiblities that constantly tug at us.

My husband makes me coffee that early in the morning every day too! We are lucky ladies!

Laura said...

This is a timely post for me...I am not feeling particularly happy, caught up in a spiral of coping with a family crisis. I appreciate reading your thoughts on happiness and the poem. A good reminder to remember what is important and regain focus. I am not in a place to write about it - but I'm getting there. Thank you.

cbmamainnf said...

So true- the little things so add up and make everyday wonderful.

By the way if I were to ask Ryan what his definition of happiness he would say "mommy clamping me down". This is where I wrap myself around him so he can not move his arms and legs- and he trys to get out. For some reason this "clamping down" is his favorite thing...the first thing he asked me to do when I got hoe from San Fran.... kids

Finola said...

I love this. You are absolutely right that it is the simple things that make me happy too. So why do I spend so much energy worrying about work, money, chores etc.?

Denise Nielsen said...

I asked my kids at bedtime what makes them happy. My son said homemade bread. It really is the simple things, but we do (at least I sure do) spend lots of time worrying about the other stuff.

Thanks for jumping in with your thoughts.

Leanne Haines said...

Thanks, D. I really needed this today. Not "feeling" particularly happy, although I know that deep down, I am. All the pieces are there; a few are just out of place. I'm going to need a little time to focus on happiness enough to write about it, but I think I should be able to come up with somethings for my blog today. Thanks for the inspiration!