My Practical (and Gratifying) Experience with Happiness

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Over the past several weeks, we have been investigating the topic of happiness. Previous pieces have reported on the Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness," Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project," and a milestone study tracking a cohort of Harvard men over six decades. Also, I am reading Martin Seligman's "Authentic Happiness."

    Then, over the last week, something totally unaccustomed happened to me: I actually experienced every day practically all day of being happy. Suddenly, for me, the pursuit of happiness is no longer a mere academic exercise. I now have some practical experience, which will inform all my writing from now on, whether on the topic of happiness or not.

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    So, what went right?

    Just prior to midnight, July 22, I flew out of LAX to New Zealand. Thirteen hours (and technically two days) later, I was in Auckland. Two and a half hours later, in Wellington Airport, I held my baby grandson, Little Teddy, for the first time. There was my beautiful daughter, Emily, beaming proudly, holding her son. There was me, wrapping my arms around both in a group hug. There there was me, with the little guy in my arms.

    So, without further ado, and in no particular order, some happiness vignettes:

    • Unpacking way too many baby toys and baby clothes from my luggage. Now I know why Santa is so jolly.
    • Wheeling Little Teddy around a local art gallery. A group of Japanese tourists stop and point. "'Brue' eyes," they say, smiling.
    • Meeting up with an old law school buddy for lunch. Meeting up with an old journalist buddy for coffee. Meeting up with another old journalist buddy for beers. Ah, lasting friendships.
    • Making pasta noodles from scratch with my son-in-law, Hamish.
    • Chilling out in the guest bedroom, listening to my daughter in the other room sing lullabies to my grandson.
    • Hanging out with my daughter, getting to know her better.
    • Having a bite to eat at the local coffee shop with Emily and her baby circle, viewing Teddy interacting on the floor with his fellow rug rats.
    • Receiving a big Teddy smile intended just for me.
    • At Wellington Airport, big lump in my throat, handing the little guy back to his parents for the very last time. (I really wanted to sneak him into my carry-on.)

    I'm sure there is a commonality to all this, as well as unique points. I'll do my thinking later, and maybe write about the insights I gained. But that is for another time. I just got back in the door several hours ago. Now is the time to sit back and savor those precious moments.

Published On: August 01, 2010