What Makes You Happy?

Do you know what it takes to make my littlest dude happy? French fries. Something he never gets except during the winter Solstice because I don't believe in deep fried things. Unless they are sweet potatoes. I heart me some gooood sweet potato fries. But my LD doesn't. He only likes the French kind. So, sadly, he is deprived. (To be fair, I only eat sweet potato fries on the summer Solstice. I parent by example. Also by my love of saying the word "Solstice.")

Do you know what it takes to make my Middle Girl happy? Puppies. Plus cute little old people and adorable children. The other day I told her the story of my older brother finding out what the word "Infinity" meant. He was four years old. Someone had said the word "Infinity" in my bro's presence and he ran and asked my mom about it. She explained "going on forever and ever" to him as best she could. He nodded, then wandered off to think about it. He thought. And he thought. At the end of the day he came up to my mom with tears on his cheeks and said, "I hate 'finity!"

Awwww. Seriously. My Middle Girl died of "awww-ness" for the rest of the day.

My older two kids have happy-inducing favorite things that are about as simple as the younger two. My husband . . . well now. We've pretty much established that there's something wrong with that boy. Dude runs hundred-mile races and has installed the Jolly Green Giant's clothesline up above my house. Calls it a "HAM" radio antenna. Right. Like pigs talk on radios. (Oooh, so many jokes that I'm going to let go.) My huz doesn't count in this survey.

But me? I count. And I will tell you that I'm figuring out something by watching my little family-people. (Except my husband, who, as I mentioned, is slightly whacked. I say that with love.) Happiness can be very simple. It doesn't need to be complex. It doesn't need to be something elusive that I'm constantly searching for. It doesn't need to be something epically exciting, or even something new. Happiness is. It simply is. It's all around us, in every part of our lives. We have it, we just have to notice it.

Except that you can't notice anything if you are ripping along at 90 miles per hour. Have you ever tried that? Watched passing traffic and tried to pick out small details as the cars blow past? I tried that once. Went to the Indy 500 timed trials. Those cars were screaming by at 200+ miles per hour. If I tried to follow them I got eyestrain. If I just sat there and let them pass in front of me, they were reduced to race car colored smears. If I wanted to actually see any detail on those vehicles, they were going to have to slow the heck down. 

Same with life. If we want to see the happy, we've got to slow down enough to get it in focus. There's a reason people say you've gotta "stop, and smell the roses." How you gonna wave your nostrils around above those buds if you ripped past them 10 minutes ago? You're not. And as long as you're not, you'll fail to notice the nuance in their color too.

Notice the good stuff. The little stuff: the weather, the timing of things, the people around you, your health, parts of your body that still work, the ways in which you've been able to use your talents to bless yourself and others–even if you have never been famous. Notice the moments of peace and grab onto them so you can really wade in and enjoy them. Lock onto the good in life. It will grow.

And then, you'll wonder why you ever thought you were unhappy. Believe me, this is the best way to deal with life's distresses. I spent a LOT of years not doing this. Doing this works better. 

Lecture over. And just so you know, I'm saying all of this because I needed to hear it today.

Thanks! As you were.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. What makes me happy? My wonderful, fun, delightful, and quirky wife. That and my four amazing kids. That’s what makes me happy.

    Oh, and the occasional 100-mile run

    -From Janiel’s “there’s something wrong with that boy” husband. With love.

  2. Love the new blog look!

    I’ve been thinking about the happy thing lately and I realized that I really love just taking walks. If I ever get to go someplace really exotic – you know, like Chicago – then I’d love to just walk it. I did that with my kiddo in Philly last year and it was wonderful – such a happy experience.

    • Thank you, Rob! Yay! Comments are working again!
      I love reading about your walkabouts on your blog. I hope you get to go to exotic places like Chicago 🙂 soon! I’d recommend Boston too. And D.C. And Manhattan. And Hawaii. Someday maybe I’ll get rich and take you to Hawaii, and we can just walk around and smell flowers. Leave everyone else at home, you know?

  3. WAAAAH!! You don’t believe in deep-fried things!?!?! Oh my… my whole world view has been shattered. Like…what about donuts!? Or KFC? No, you’re probably right. Keep up the good work!

    Thanks for this wonderful piece (see, I still show up!) and I needed to hear it myself! 🙂

    • April! SweetheartDarlingBaby! Thank you for commenting and reading and being your awesome non-deepfried self!

      *I actually DO believe in fried things. They just don’t believe in me. I LOVE maple bars. sigh*

  4. French fries make me happy too, but I don’t eat them often. I went to the Daytona 500 and know just what you mean about how fast the cars go by. You just can’t see them. It’s fun though. This is a great post. We all need to remember the little things that make us happy. Listening to my grandkids giggle is something that makes me happy.

    • Oh I love that! I’m not at grandkids yet–though it may not be too far off–but I love it when my kids all start laughing together. It’s the best sound!
      Thanks Kathleen!

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