Monday #34: The Pursuit of Happiness

Hello, Friends… I write to you this morning from sunny Florida where I have been working with children for the past week on a collection of murals. I have been staying with my good friend and educational colleague, Rowena Gerber.

One of the best things about my work in education is that I almost always get to mix business with pleasure and I am fortunate to have a wonderful collection of friends all over the country. This makes me happy.

There are lots of lists all over the place that will give you the steps to happiness and many of them have similar components which I have written about here in past posts. But, when one of this week’s installments from The Daily Good was on happiness, I clicked to see what they had to say about it. This particular list uses a pleasant acronym, GREAT DREAM, to name the ten keys to happy living. “Great dream” confirms what Nancy Etcoff says in the lead comments of her TED talk on the science of happiness— that, as humans, we see the pursuit of happiness as obligatory. Happiness is, indeed, our great dream.

Giving, relating, exercising, appreciating, trying out, direction, resilience, emotion, acceptance and meaning. These are the ten keys of GREAT DREAM. I’ve often pondered the notion that there are some people who just can’t be happy and wondered if, perhaps, there were biological factors that trumped all positive thinking and talk therapy. If you are one of my readers, you know I often think about the “glass half-full, half-empty” theory and, when I arrived in Miami last week, I was pleased that one of the first things I saw was a quote above my friend’s kitchen sink that said, “Possibility thinkers are incurably obsessed with the creative notion that the best is yet to be.”  I like that.

Etcoff’s research indicates that genetics account for only 50% of  person’s potential to be happy and, while she offers little in the way of how-to, she does cover some fascinating facts of the science of happiness, including how people’s thoughts on happiness shift after what she calls “quantum changes” in our lives. Her closing remarks include a beautiful, anonymous quote “There is only one question… how to love this world.” One of the first groups of children I worked with here in Miami were preschoolers. We did an Earth Day project where we made large murals out of found materials.

We wrote a letter to the Earth and it was sweet and wonderful how easily the children came up with what to say.

It’s been a good week.

TRY THIS WEEK: Think about what makes you happy.

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About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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