Happiness is … Friends

Two boys smiling.

This one is a no-brainer, right? Spending time with friends makes us happy. The question I would like to ask on this is why? What is it about spending time with friends generates so much happiness for all of us?

I’m sure there are scientific studies out there that would give us insight into answers to this question. In this instance, though, I’m going to just go from the gut. I think the reason that we are happy when we spend times with friends is that we have shared experiences. And we can relive these experiences each time we meet up. We can grow on the experiences and this makes our bonds of friendship, our connections if you will, even stronger. You may have heard it said that your friends “get you”. That’s what I mean. They understand your weirdness. They understand that you would rather be at home playing board games or cards than out on the town (or vice versa) and they are willing to join you in that. It is a shared experience and it is something we can build on.

When we’re younger, it seems easier to start building a friendship because finding share experiences is simpler. “You like this music or sport? I do, too. Let’s be friends.” And so it begins. As we get older, I think this becomes more difficult. Not impossible, just more difficult. I say this because as we age we are more and more set in our ways. Going outside of our comfort zone isn’t always a smooth ride. And we like the path we’re on just fine. But then something happens and we have a shared experience with someone and just like that, we have the possibility of building a friendship. Is there a learning curve inherent in this? Sure. Does it always work out? No, but the fact that we can make friends means that we will always have the chance to enjoy the happiness that comes from spending time with them. And that, in the end, it a thing to be grateful for.

What do you think – Why does having friends make us happy?

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Happiness is … watching him grow

Youth basketball player standing next to his coach.
He is growing up so fast. I love watching him play, and I love watching him grow as a person and a player.

The day that I became a dad was an absolutely amazing day. It is forever etched in my memory. And now, 12 years later, I can say that watching our son grow into a young man has been a thrilling journey. Not all days are good. Not all days are bad. But there are more good days than there are bad, and that is something to be grateful for. 

The moment when I knew that I’d done something right as a parent came when I saw him from the sidelines and I was not his coach. He was coachable. And that is a great trait for someone to have. But more importantly, he took the coaching and was able to apply it on the field/court and could help his teammates understand it as well. That continues to be truly amazing to watch.

Happiness is…Good Coffee

Person holding a cup of black coffee in their hands
Nothing beats a good cup of coffee.

The alarm goes off. It’s still dark outside. You fumble around for your glasses and make your way out to the kitchen. The floor is cold, but you know that you’re only a few steps away for the perfect morning pick-me-up. Happiness in a cup! 

It’s agonizing just waiting for the coffee to brew. But the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house is a much more potent way to wake up. And more enjoyable, too.

That’s why I am grateful today for a good cup of coffee. Or two. I like mine dark and strong. But I’ll add cream and sugar on occasion.

Good coffee. It is one of those simple pleasures in life that allows us to take a few moments to reflect or to contemplate what the future may bring. I especially love it on a Sunday morning. I love just being able to relax for a few minutes with a hot mug o’ joe before getting on with the day.

How about you? How do you like your coffee? Let me know in the comments. And always, thank you for reading!

Good tunes

You know that feeling you get when an old song comes on the radio you used to jam to? Steering wheel tapping, dancing in your seat, and singing at the top.of your lungs? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

The other day this happened to me when “Jack and Diane” came on. My daughter must’ve thought I was nuts because I was singing and grooving on the ride home from her dance class. Such a good song and such positive vibes. Hearing it again after all these years was just the perfect moment.

And yes, I stayed in the car until the song was done. Now that is a simple pleasure!

Cold weather dog walking

One of the parts of the day that I most enjoy is walking my dog, Hemingway.

Dog laying next to man who is smiling

He’s cute, right? 

I really like walking him at night. And in the winter it is such a sensory experience. The crisp air makes walking brisk. The way my unexposed skin starts to sting just enough to know it is cold. And the tranquility of the evening when there is no noise except for the random train in the distance and the sound of our feet on the pavement.

It’s truly a fun time and one that I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy.

Man with headlamp on

I may look like a miner, but I’m actually walking the dog on a crisp winter night.

Do you have a dog? What do you notice the most when you walk him/her?

Positive thinking

Today I started a Positive Thoughts Journal. I am going to use it to capture the things I am grateful for, to savor the positive experiences, and capitalize on the positive emotions that I am feeling.

You see, I haven’t always been a positive thinker. In fact, I recently googled “how to be happy.” The results that came up have started me on this journey.

So, in coming posts I will be sharing how my journey is going and hope that you will share your positivity, too.

Green composition notebook

Never forget: We all have a seat at this table

rustic-334080_1280In the days that followed the events of September 11, 2001, I saw something great and it is something that I will never forget.

I stood in line to give blood. It was something. You see, I was at that moment in time trying to figure out how I could help. What could I do? I figured I could give of myself, literally. So, I gave blood. And so did hundreds of thousands of others across the country in those days. It was something. It was a way to contribute. But it wasn’t the only way.

As a community, we came together. We put our political issues aside and we came together. As Americans. We were changed because of what happened. And in that change we found unity. And that was powerful. But, it was fleeting. Now, we argue in tweets. We can’t stand someone who has a different opinion. And there are headlines about how we’ve forgotten about terrorism. Has life changed that much since that crystal clear blue sky morning 17 years ago?

I imagine that if something as terrible were to happen today, we may act in much the same ways as we did then. And that is a good thing. Yet, why should we even need the terrible to bring the good? Why aren’t we united and working toward a compromise to achieve success? Why do we hate each other so much? Yes, we are all different. And yes, we all bring divergent experiences to the table. But that table, that is America. That is the place where we hash things out. Where we can discuss the merits of single-payer healthcare or an increase in money for infrastructure. That is the place where we can say that it was wrong that only white males could hold property and vote. That is the place where we can go to reevaluate what it means to be American and not suffer any adverse consequences because we are a nation built on freedom.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That day, 17 years ago, I think the long tail mission of the terrorists was to divide our house and make it so we could no longer meet at the table of ideas, but that we only saw each other in terms of right and wrong.

I fear we are now, more than ever, a house divided. But I am certain that there a way forward. And I am certain that the foundation of that way forward can be built from the memories of those days after the Twin Towers went down when we came together as Americans; when we came together as a family.