The International Day of Happiness
What makes us happy?
Here at Q&A on our Second Annual International Day of Happiness, and we took a little informal survey on the things that make us happy and why. Take some time today and reflect on what makes you happy.
I got this little bear when I was six. Every Saturday, my sister and I accompanied my mother to Patrick Air Force Base for our weekly housewares and grocery store run. I always stopped first at the ceramics aisle (there was a ceramics aisle in 1977!). It was common for me to pick up a little puppy or chipmunk figurine — but this bear stopped me in my tracks. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. After I got it home, I’d stare at it and ask my family “Have you ever seen anything this cute?!”
Fast-forward to 2018. I’m helping my mom renovate her house and packing the whole thing up. I’m frying hot in the Florida heat, tired and cranky. As I pack up some shelves, I’m greeted by this little cutie. I instantly smile. It still holds the same warm, cuddly feeling that it did decades ago. This little bear makes me so happy.
There are many things that spark happiness for me. But there is one thing that consistently and without fail makes me happy.
The first is the original series Star Trek of the 1960’s on reruns in the early 1970’s when I was 10 years old. It was the main television show we watched as a family that fully exploited the wonders of our brand new and very first bumper car-sized color television. My father and I bonded over the space-age optimism and science fiction of the series. It was the first time I realized I had something in common with him over which we could hold adult conversations about sophisticated topics.
When he was sent back to Vietnam we continued to discuss episodes on his weekly calls. This connection eased my anxieties about his absence. Star Trek is awesome.
I have a beat up old box of dominoes. They belonged to Pop, my great grandfather. I like how old they are. The box is near falling apart, the wrong look might cause it to disintegrate. The dominoes though remain sturdy and solid—the same way I feel about Pop. I spent many afternoons at my great grandparents’ house playing dominoes with Pop. I don’t know if he was letting me win or if I’d ever actually outsmarted him, but I recall feeling that we were a well-matched Domino-playing duo. With so many dots on one game piece, I used to have a hard time seeing which group of dots was which. Pop was known for being handy—in his world, anything could be repaired with some electrical tape. At some point, Pop found some pink nail polish and made a line on each and every domino piece to mark the separate sides just for me. The care he took to do that made me feel special. Looking at the domino set brings memories of our time spent together. Pop was a great friend.
Boiled Eggs…no seriously. Well to be more precise the art of cooking and preparing eggs brings me happiness. It started when I was a kid and my grandparents would make us grandchildren over easy eggs in the morning for breakfast and I always looked forward to that because breakfast was my favorite meal of the day! I knew from that moment that I wanted to learn how to cook over easy eggs. As I got older that became learning how to prepare and cook, boiled eggs, poached eggs, omelets and scrambled eggs.
Fast forward to the present, I can safely say, I have mastered not only cooking an over easy egg, but over medium, and hard, boiled eggs (of all degrees), omelets and scrambled. Poached eggs are still a struggle for me but I am still trying. I get many compliments particularly on my soft boiled eggs and I know the happiness I felt when eating my first over easy egg is passed on to my friends and family who have tried my eggs.
I grew up a half block from Lake Sacajawea in Longview, Washington. Time at the lake has always brought me peace and happiness. Throughout the years—no matter the season—I’ve had the luxury of walking to the lake rain or shine, day or night.
On the shore there are the colors of spring flowers and on the water the peep of baby ducks. Lazy summer bike rides with my sisters, stopping at the playgrounds, climbing trees, picking blackberries, and laying on the cool ground under the massive oak and maples. In the fall, trekking through the mucky leaves with rain boots and umbrellas. In winter sledding in the snow and evening walks with my parents to see the Christmas lights on Lions’ Island.
I haven’t been since my mom sold the Longview house a few years ago. But all the memories and time spent at the lake with people I love makes me happy.
The John Denver song, Country Roads, always makes me happy. It reminds me of everything comforting in life. It almost puts my mind in a temporary dream-like space where I remember a range of things about my childhood, nature, friends, and personal memories. It doesn’t make me think of one specific moment. Just a rush of calm happiness.
I could also point to a specific moment of happiness when I ran my first half marathon. It was in Dublin, Ireland. It was a time in life when I started running again, and got really healthy. No need consider my health now, because I can’t run a half of a mile without stopping. But, the first half marathon (1 of 6) is something that always brings a smile to my face. It sometimes gives me butterflies of excitement and motivation.
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Since 2013, the UN has celebrated the International Day of Happiness.
This day recognizes the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. In 2015 the United Nations launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet—three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.
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