Fill ‘Er Up Again

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

A Happy, Happy 2014 to all the people reading these lines (and all other good people besides).

On December 30, 2013, I experienced the joy of looking through the small slips of IMG_20131230_075035369paper that populated my “Happiness Jar.”

IMG_20131231_165947283(1)A “Happiness Jar” is a concept that originated with the author Elizabeth Gilbert, I believe, but the practice of counting one’s blessing thankfully goes back millennia.

I’m a firm believer in celebrating as many things as possible, and so I share two truly lovely lectures on the subject of happiness with my students. One is by Mr. Srikumar Rao, who reminds us all to be content in the present moment, without longing for the fantasy of an elusive and faraway future.

The other is Neil Pasricha’s 1,000 Awesome things project and his “Three A’s of Awesome”.

The cultivation of happiness is not the practice of the naïve idealist; rather, it is a skill, like any other, that can be improved with practice over time.

HappinessThroughout 2013, I amassed “happiness” in a jar. People asked me to explain what, exactly, I put in the jar. I put in happy thoughts, of course, the kinds of ideas that would enable me to fly, should I ever find myself in Neverland.

Another frequent question was whether or not I put something in the jar every day. I suggest that no one is that happy. I’m happy often enough, though, and it is a good practice to remember those moments. Then, at the end of the year, I was able to reflect on what was, to be grateful and amazed by the quotidian beauties of life, and to feel quite complete with happiness, and so the promise of my “Happiness Jar” was fulfilled.

Here, like a true librarian, I shall catalogue my happiness, line it up in rows, and study it more fully, hoping as scholars do to find even more meaning in the minute details.

My Happiness Jar contained 73 items.

The big happiness consisted of four weddings (congratulations to Sarah & Nik, Sarah & Miles, Kait & Alex, and Hanna & Ryan) and two brand-new babies (welcome to the world, Brock & Maeve).

My family happiness happened on trips to my hometown, involving just plain-old togetherness typically talking in the kitchen.

My Urban Family happiness meant outings: a walk along the lake with Kris, a picnic hosted by Clark with everyone at the happily named Lunt Avenue Beach, a visit to The Milwaukee Art Museum, backyard barbeques, a tubing trip down the Tippecanoe River, and several dozen meetings for drinks.

My wanderlust happiness was a trip to California, specifically San Francisco, with a divine day trip to the Russian River valley for a wonderful wine tour with my dear fried Kait.

My visitor happiness hit the trifecta with Emily in July, Stacy in August, and Ingrid in November.

My feasting happiness entailed cooking for the people I love, and making an abundance of meatballs, and drinking fancy champagne, and going to a new restaurant called Azzurra.

My professional happiness continues to be this lil’ turtle, and my RMU CLA All-Stars, colleagues who inspire me and, more importantly, make me laugh every day.

My Lady Woolfs book club happiness consisted of thoughtful questions, generous pours, and laughter galore.

My silly happiness took the form of a tiny plastic dinosaur I found on my kitchen floor after Matt’s birthday party.

My community happiness involved evenings spent at The Whirlaway with the matchless Maria, and a cast of neighborhood characters and plotlines as intricate and passionate as any of Puccini’s operas.

My dogoodery happiness filled the days I spent promoting the aims and ideals of 826Chicago, and in the evening I spent celebrating the tremendous success of my former students (Collin, Chas, & Chris) at the premiere of their first feature-length film, In Bloom.

My loving happiness was, unsurprisingly, an even, infinite vacillation between deciding whether or not I should keep on loving him.

My miscellaneous happiness was picnics and concerts and lectures and bike rides and swims and naps and sunsets.

And for all of these, I am truly grateful.

I am sure I was happier than even these many items suggest, so I shall continue to collect happy thoughts and keep them in a jar, like so many beautiful things, with or without wings.

I have begun my Happiness Jar for 2014, of course, and it already has three slips of paper folded inside. I am eager to fill the coming year with happiness, and hope you are, too.

  1. You make me happy just reading this….and I was happy to start the year in Sarah’s kitchen with you wonderful girls!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s