Thomas Jefferson’s beloved words in the Bill of Rights are familiar to many: that all are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Hm. “Pursuit” of happiness.
If you ask most people today how they would define pursuit, you’d get answers like “chase,” “hunt,” or maybe “seeking.” But if you research the lexicography of Jefferson’s day, he was saying that all people have the right to exercise or practice happiness.
Practicing something is quite a different idea from chasing or hunting something. After all, if I’m chasing something, it probably had a head start and can run faster than I can. It’s really hard to catch something that got the jump on me when I wasn’t looking! Think Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner—no matter what that coyote tried, his chase was fruitless, and, worse, even harmful to himself!
But practicing is different. It involves my focus. It’s what I’m paying attention to. It’s something I can come back to if I’ve gotten distracted.
The last few decades have been hallmarked by people having more and more things, more and more debt, more and more distractions. It’s no coincidence that these things have not made for a happier world. Think about that for a moment. If things, distractions, and instant gratification are not the fabric of happiness, what is? If Thomas Jefferson had it right all along, and happiness is a practice, something one exercises, how can we learn to practice it ourselves, and model happiness for our children? (Reference: Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff)
Enter my new project, The Happy Moments book. This book will be a compilation of happy moments from real people’s lives retold in prose, poetry, or story form. The book will be a reminder that a fantastic life is really a string of small moments that become dear to us. It will remind adults (and teach kids) that spending time together and nurturing meaningful connections with one another is what life is all about.
People from all walks of life can contribute their favorite happy moments they experienced as children. This book will teach children how to focus on everyday happy moments as a way of coping with challenges or disappointment. It will broaden children’s views of the world and create a sense of empathy that will stay with them into adulthood.
Want to help? I’d love for you to donate a personal experience to my Happy Moments book project! Think back to your childhood: what happy moment did you have as a child that you remember to this day? I’d like the book to focus on “everyday” kinds of happy moments, not necessarily momentous life events.
If you would like to contribute your experience to my project, here are some questions you can answer that will help me present and share your memory in the best way possible.
- What is one of your favorite happy moments from your childhood?
- Why is this happy moment special to you?
- Describe the setting/scene of your happy moment.
- When you think of this happy moment, what stands out to you the most?
- What colors/sounds/smells/etc. come to mind when you remember this moment?
- How did this happy moment make you feel? (other than happy—perhaps calm, excited, hopeful, etc.)
Please understand that your happy moment donation may be edited before publication and in some cases it might be converted to a poem. I will, of course, be happy to share the edited version with you before publication. Your published experience can be attributed or anonymous—your choice.
Please don’t worry about the form of your submission. All I need is your happy moment. I will take care of editing and shaping the words. Please see below for some rough (unedited) samples of the kinds of happy moments I am looking for.
Please submit your happy moment from the Happy Moments Project page on my website.
Happy Moment Example 1: The Button Box—My grandmother had a large tin full of all kinds of buttons, every shape, size and color you could imagine. Whenever I’d visit my grandmother, I loved playing with the buttons. I would place several buttons on a string and then I would twist it so I could make it spin…one direction and then the other. It would entertain me for hours. By the time I was finished playing, I had buttons all over the living room.
Happy Moment Example 2: Making Biscuits with Grandma—When I was old enough to stay with my Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma would let me help her in the kitchen, and that usually meant making biscuits or teacakes. I loved-LOVED-the feel of squishing dough between my fingers. She would give me a chunk of dough and I would work it and work it and work it until it was positively gray and stiff. Then—wonder of wonders—it was time to put it in the oven. When we took our baked goodies out of the oven, I would proudly present my now-nicely-browned piece of hardtack to my loving Grandpa, who would eat it every time with a smile, and say, “Mmmm, that’s good, baby.”
And if you’re looking for a series of exciting adventure chapter books for ages 7 and up that appeal to reluctant readers, check out the award-winning Sir Kaye series, published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.