Sunday, December 6, 2015


English philosopher John Locke’s famous words regarding humankind’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of property” were changed by Thomas Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence to read “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I guess we Americans think happiness is pretty important.

It often comes to us when we do something for someone else. Is there such a thing as altruism, the completely selfless act of one who has no personal expectations in regard to the outcome of their actions? Does the motive of the giver of happiness matter at all if the result ends up making someone else happy?

Is it possible for someone else to create happiness for another? Do we ever really know what brings us happiness? Sometimes what we think will make us happy does not. Sometimes we are surprised by happiness that sneaks up on us.

Chasing happiness is an iffy endeavor given the imperfect nature of life and human beings. Still, we can list things we love—things that bring us joy.

Here’s my list:

a candle-lit dinner made for friends
a frosty morning run
a movie that tickles my funny
a deep sleep between sun-dried sheets
discovering a new friend
kneading bread and watching it rise
learning something new
solving a dilemma
finding the perfect gift for someone
completing a task I didn’t think I could
getting lost in a good book
writing something worthwhile
knowing my house is temporarily clean
cross-country skiing in deep woods
sleeping outdoors near the ocean
being alone
being with people
getting newsy Christmas cards
watching the lives of kids and grandkids

May a joy list of your own. It’ll bring you happiness.

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