"The How of Happiness"

I’ve been reading The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky after a colleague at Pacific University used it in a freshman humanities class. Students loved the writing style, the science-based content, and the practical suggestions. As far as self-help books go, this one’s fun!

Lately I’ve been practicing one of the many “happiness-enhancing” activities in the book: Savoring Life’s Joys. It’s basically slowing down to notice and absorb whatever goodness is unfolding in the present moment.

Have you heard of the parenting book, All Joy and No Fun? I almost bought that book just for the title! It reminds me that joy and fun aren’t the same thing. In fact — strange as it may sound — savoring life’s joys usually opens me to things that are tinged with sadness. The older I get the closer these feelings get to each other, which means that as I watch through the front window at my son shooting baskets on the sidewalk, I am simultaneously savoring his strength and health and humor and presence . . . and grieving the days that are passing so fast, carrying him further into his own life and further from the life we share.

Yet I would rather let myself feel the both/and, the sweet tension, than miss this moment when the two-year-old from next door toddles over and raises his arms so my son can pick him up. I welcome the joy-sorrow of hearing my son’s voice — still finding its lower octave, still carrying notes of his own little self — knowing there will be a day when he’s in his 40s, watching someone he loves through the living room window.

Jenna ThompsonComment