Many things can contribute to happiness. Happiness in itself is a state of
contentment, it is more long-lived than joy or pleasure. On the other hand happiness can increase joy
We all strive for happiness, we find it elusive because we
don’t really know for sure what it is.
We think winning the lottery would make us happy, but it truly doesn’t.
It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t satisfy that deep feeling you have
when you truly know that you are happy.
Gratitude, friends, easing up on yourself, doing what you
love, laughing, challenges, and kindness seemed to always come out in front
when we want to cultivate happiness.
On our regular staff calls, Network staff have been sharing what makes us happy. We decided to create this happiness blog to share the love with all of you too. Each week we will post videos or links in this blog to what makes us happy. Maybe a little kindness and a little laugh will help give you a little boost to your happiness.
Friday, July 31
Marla: This past week was a tough one due to the heat. I fell a little flustered more so than any other time (AND I LOVE THE SUMMER!!!). However, the skies above and the cooler nights helped my state of mind. Seeing shooting stars this week made me smile. FYI, we just passed the Delta Aquarids but if you see your self looking up this month, don’t miss out on the Perseids Meteor Shower. Visible through late August. Here is a link to show you which day of the month and time is best to look. Peak days Aug. 11-12)
Ken: A few weeks ago at the start of summer I was thinking about the pool we used to have. It was one of those quick set pools with a filter that was great for cooling off on a late July day. I went online to order one and found that (1) they were really overpriced, and (2) they were all out of stock. After a week of searching, I finally settled on one that was big enough and fit my budget. Fifteen days later there was a delivery…it was the new pool! After an hour of setup, we got into the cold water (fresh from the hose)…it was 95 degrees out. The pool met and exceeded my expectations with enough room for the whole family.
Barbara: The last couple of weeks have been too hot to take walks or work outside, but it was perfect weather for swimming!! I have visited my sister three times in the last week where I enjoyed swimming in her pool until I was worn out!! It felt good and made me very happy!! I didn’t think to take a picture at the time, so no pic or video this week, just happy memories.
Rose: It was a weird week. Every day this week something glitched. I kept saying these types of things come in 3’s, only this time it was continuous. Some weeks I might be stressed and frustrated but this week I was able to roll with the punches. Why does that happen? I can’t say I was happy but it was just ok. Sometimes we just have to deal with ok until happy reappears.
Aridyan: I picked up some new art supplies which I’m very excited about! I will be working on some painting projects that I have been wanting to do. Art has been extremely therapeutic for me during these times.
Shawna: I finished another book last night! White Oleander by Janet Fitch. It was a very good read, MUCH better than the movie. Now I’m moving onto Toni Morrison’s, Paradise, recommended and borrowed from my good friend Grace.
Michelle: While inspiration is different than happiness, what really moved me this week was President Obama’s eulogy for Congressman John Lewis. He called for us all to continue Rep. Lewis’s work improving our democracy, expanding voting rights. I’d almost forgotten how much I love listening to him speak. If you didn’t see it live, take some time for yourself today to watch the whole 40 minutes. Here’s CNN’s Youtube video.
Friday, July 24
Ken: New Kicks for the AM — I have never been one for jogging…it seems like a lot of work, gives me a cramp, and those uphill roads, forget it. However, over the course of the pandemic I somehow managed to lose a bunch of weight (all I can think of is more walking at night, less office pastries and candy, and eating three balanced meals a day). So a few weeks ago, I decided to trade in my 20 year old sneakers for a new pair. After getting over the sticker shock of sneakers these days (gone are the cheap days of Sketchers), I decided to dive in and see what I could do. I had a master plan that I would jog everyday at 7:30 and go for a 1.5 – 2 mile run around my neighborhood. I finally hatched the plan last Monday and have been jogging consistently for the past 9 days. I have my 14 year old son to thank as he comes with me and keeps me motivated, understanding that I may need to walk up that hill or give my calves a break on a straight-away. I am hopeful I can knock out the 12 pounds that stand between me and my 2001 weight…with my new sneakers anything is possible.
Monica: As a huge Princess Bride fan, I was worried to see a remake but this is perfect! And supports the World Central Kitchen. Now my family is considering our own remake. So many favorite lines.
Mary: I am happy this week because we celebrated Flash’s 12th birthday. He is the best boy ever and helped me out so much with cuddles and long nights alone while I worked on my Masters. Happy Belated Birthday Flash!
Michelle: I spent some time this weekend cleaning my chaotic art studio and I discovered a new song that made me laugh out loud: “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs” by Todrick Hall off his timely album Quarantine Queen. What other song will include lyrics like “Febreeze for me,” drag queens, and dancing with mops? Here’s the link for the song and the video (which only made me smile more!) FYI the lyrics do have an explicit warning on them. Happy cleaning!
Marla: During this quarantine, I gave in and joined Tik Tok. Had to see what the fuss was all about. My For You feed this week contained a pretty awesome Bill Nye the Science Guy video. It was pretty clever, funny and yes made me happy. Hope you enjoy!
Barbara: Back in April I heard about Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 from a friend who, like me has been a member of the West Hartford Women’s Chorale for quite some time. We were both sad that we had to cancel our spring semester. Singing, particularly in a choir, has been a great joy of mine since I was in middle school. It is my favorite self-care practice. And so, during May I signed up for Eric Whitacre’s Choir, downloaded the music, practiced, and then recorded (about 20,000 takes!), and finally uploaded my single soprano voice to the over 17,000 voiced choir. And then I waited. Singing alone just isn’t the same as singing with others. It just isn’t. And so when the final version of the song I had sung a single part for, was released this past Sunday, and I was finally able to hear us all together, it brought tears of happiness to my eyes. I finally felt that connection with others that only happens when you are creating a piece of music together. The song is just over three minutes but it represents 17,572 singers from 129 countries (and so the credits are long!). I hope you take the time to listen to “Sing Gently” and that it also brings you joy.
Rose: Oh my gosh I’m all most embarrassed that I was happiest chasing Pokémon this week. My husband and children thought it was hilarious. Everyone except my 6 year old grandchild, we had a blast fighting in gyms, catching rare Pokémon and this week the Pokémon Festival. I’ve lost a little weight walking to pokestops to get more pokeballs. It really gets you going. You never know what pops up to make you happy. I think I’m hooked. Who’d have thought?
Friday, July 17
Monica: I hung this bird house for decoration and this summer ended up with a nest and three baby wrens. Their parents work so hard, constantly bringing them food. See the open mouth.
Khadija: This post was shared with me this week. It definitely made me smile and made me think of lots of things to do that make me happy.
Barbara: Last weekend I was a weekend warrior! I painted the spare room a beautiful blue and transformed it into my new home office! I am so grateful (and happy!) to have my own work space again–and my dining room back!
Aridyan: I’ve been experimenting with my instant photography camera that was gifted to me for Christmas last year. The fun part about instant photography is that you never know how the photo is going to come out, so it’s always a surprise. Using my camera to take pictures of nature has definitely been enjoyable!
Ken: Summer home improvements continue here so my happiness last week was brought to me by redoing our bathroom floor. Using self-stick laminate “boards” we covered over our 1957 tiles and with that buried the last part of the original house parts. While the sink and toilet were a little challenging, it only took a day and a half and we were able to put it all back together by the end of the weekend.
Rose: My happy thing was a very small ledge garden I created this past spring which has a paddle type cactus that grows in Connecticut….it BLOOMED and it was so beautiful. I was showing it off to everyone. All thanks to a stranger who offered it to me while walking my dog when I stopped to admire his garden.
Shawna: Everyday I take Balta to the tennis courts for about 30-45 minutes. Not only is it good for her but it brings me a lot of joy too!
Michelle: Last year for Mother’s Day I received a wonderful hummingbird feeder that attaches to the glass door in the dining room with suction cups. Since we’ve been working from home, I spend breakfast and lunch almost everyday with the hummingbirds (we have at least six of them, some of which I’ve named – this one is Curious Girl). On this day my family were there too, but I erased their random conversation with some music — and we had another lunch guest too! And yes, those are my Christmas lights that I never bother to take down, and snowflake clings on the glass to keep the birds from banging into the door all the time. Does save time decorating!
Marla: One of my favorite pastimes is stargazing. This month the sky has given us so much to look at. While camping, we got out on the field and with our small travel Celestron telescope and Iphone camera we were able to catch these amazing pictures of the full moon, Jupiter and Saturn.
Thursday, July 2
Aridyan: I went for a jog in the rain this week and the scenery made me happy. Even though the sun wasn’t out, I was still able to appreciate how beautiful everything looked.
Monica: Here are Louise, the french bulldog (who doesn’t love other dogs) and Eleanor, the crazy kitten. They both needed a playmate and found each other. No one was injured in the making of this video.
Marla: Tik Tok is definitely the new thing nowadays. I admit to spend time watching videos laughing or shaking my head but this one was just too funny not to share just because I can relate. I get a new package in the mail every other day or so…please help! #onlineshopper https://vm.tiktok.com/Jd3pHaq/
Ken: This week I was able to clean my home office. After 16 weeks it was time for a tidying. My office mates that regularly walk in front of the computer on Zoom meetings, sleep in chairs (see the pictures), and keep me company throughout the day seem to be happy as well.
Barbara: This video makes me very happy! This kiddo has moxie! I like that. “It’s an apple. No, it’s an onion.”
Khadija: And then there is this wonderful dog. He is almost always always joy making. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with a better attitude.
Michelle: I’ve got two videos that have made me happy this week – both are tweets with music and dancing and contain so much joy:
Rose: OK, so I missed a couple of “What Made Us Happy”. I remembered each week what did make me happy. All of us at the Network had a week’s vacation it was so different, it did make me happy; it took a couple of days to realize that I could just do anything. I did do that. I discovered Pokemon Go. A deadly addictive app that make you get off your keester and walk. Walk I did! You catch Pokemon with balls that you pick up at Poke stops. All kinds of strange creatures of nature. Then you battle with them; not much of a one for battling, I like collecting. Character built by my 6 year old grandson 🙂
Friday, June 26:
Shawna: Since I’ve missed the last few weeks I decided to take a picture that encompasses what has made me happy during that time. 1) On 5/24 my partner Chris asked me to marry him, with a ring his great grandma, Mumsy, made for his mother’s engagement. 2) Last week I gave myself a sparkly manicure to match! 3) This week I repotted ALL of my plants. My living room jungle is coming to life!
Monica: I have enjoyed everyone of Dwayne Johnson’s videos with his daughter. She still doesn’t believe he is Maui.
Mary: I got a fresh new planner for July and that makes me sooo happy! There is an hourly view for each day, a to do list, and a spot for daily gratitude. I am excited to start filling it in.
Barbara: Not every day affords me the opportunity to watch as the sun sets, so when I am able, and catch such a beautiful one as this, it brings me great joy and peace.
Marla: It was a tough week to say the least, but I am very thankful for the little things. Thought this would put a smile on everyone as it did with me. I love watching compilation videos of animals and this one was great to see, turned my week around. Check it out!
Michelle: I love to travel and have been getting my fix by watching the Netflix travel documentary Somebody Feed Phil which follows Philip Rosenthal as he eats his way across a city. What makes it special is how much joy Phil takes in meeting people and trying new things, along with his great sense of humor. Watch it on a full stomach as it’s sure to make you hungry!
Rose: My daughter and I went out for the first time to Joann’s Fabrics. We spent two hours in the place and it was heaven. That’s our go to place. So that’s what made me happy this week.
Khadija: On days when it’s not too warm I like to work with my office window open. So does my cat.
Ken: Summer Painting in 90 Degrees – The thing that made me happy this week was painting my house with my family. Having painted professionally during college, I am always happy to hop on a ladder and cut in the windows and trim. With all of us home, the whole family got involved. With 6 days behind us all that is left is trim, foundation, and touch ups.
Friday, June 19:
Marla: Home projects always make me happy, even though some are hard work others spark creativity. This week we made a cat wall. Not finished yet, just needs some additional decorations.
Rose: We have a mitsubishi unit in our bedroom but we don’t use it often; I like having fresh air while I’m sleeping. I turned it on last night. There is something great about walking into a nice cool room from a hot hallway. It makes me happy. Simple things really.
Aridyan: My mom gave me this really cool card for my birthday because she knows I love outer space and it made me happy.
Michelle: I spend a lot of time on twitter, and while it’s mostly news and politics, I follow a few fun folks that always make me smile. Thoughts of Dog @dog_feelings is a perennial favorite!
Monica: I built a very small pond in my backyard, my new happy place. I have always wanted one and finally just did it. It was a day of hard work, about $30, and rocks and plants borrowed from other parts of the yard. Totally worth it!
Mary: My dog assistants made me happy this week. But I wish they wouldn’t sleep so much on the job.
Khadija: One of the perks of working at home is the ability to work outside on very nice days. I am often by delighted by the surprise coworkers I find like this chipmunk on our rock wall who hung out with me one day this week!
Barbara: What makes me happy is warm bread fresh out of the oven!
Ken: Hiking has always been a hobby of mine. Memories of when I was young exploring woods near my house in NJ growing up, hiking in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, and finding new paths right here in Connecticut. Last weekend my friend Jim and I headed to the Grannis Trail in Litchfield. This hidden gem was listed on the All Trails app and had numerous caves and abandoned mines. Winding through dense forest, old stone walls, and meadows, this trail gave a good flavor of the Litchfield Hills and made my weekend .
Friday, June 12:
Khadija: I thought this Squirrel obstacle course video was pretty cool. He talks about how he is mindful of keeping squirrels from harm while they were trying to complete the course and about the how the squirrels adapt for the challenges. https://youtu.be/hFZFjoX2cGg
Barbara: Watching all the beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees bloom bring me immense joy and pleasure.
Marla: Our household got bigger this week. We adopted 2 kittens!!! We originally planned for one, but this brother and sister combo were too much to resist. They are definitely a lil’ blessing throughout this pandemic. Now we have three cats, with big brother Desmond still getting used to them. Meet Dante and Daenerys!
Mary: The Zoo on Animal Planet is a great show to watch and has been a relaxing way for me to unwind as of recently. If you have streaming TV you should definitely DVR. If not you can watch clips here of animals in zoos or full episodes if you sign-in to access. I love de-compressing by watching the animals and seeing how the zoo keepers interact so intimately with these beautiful creatures.
Michelle: We don’t watch much television, but we love Netflix’s Queer Eye Season 5 and wait anxiously for each new season. Has been just what we needed this week.
Monica: This is a skit done by the Australian Ballet’s Corps de Ballet during quarantine, which they refer to as ‘Corps-en-tine’. For a little background: The corps de ballet is the group of ballet dancers who dance together in a ballet company. This corps plays the role of the Wilis in the ballet “Giselle”. The Wilis are ghostly apparitions of maidens who died of broken hearts and are led by Mrytha, the Queen of the Wilis. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39_lS4v1sqw
Rose: My family lives close to me, like next door. It can be frustrating to be interrupted A LOT. When I get irritated I take a couple of breaths and talk to the positive. On one such day I took my granddaughter out for a short bike? walk??? It was wonderful and I watch this video frequently, it makes me happy. https://youtu.be/kP1IQUKn5ZM
Ken: Ken: Having been an avid Phish fan since my first show in Plattsburgh, NY in 1996, I was thrilled to hear about Dinner and a Movie 12 weeks ago. Each week the band webcasts a show and has a coinciding recipe. With the warmer weather here, Tuesday night shows are fireside in the backyard. To join in the fun or to find something new to make check out webcast.livephish.com.
Check back next Friday for more things that are making us happy!