Monday, March 31, 2008

My formula for happiness

A lot of people out there are unhappy. Very unhappy. As in :(

Unhappy people are everywhere--on the TV, in our nation's capital, on the phone, in the line at the grocery store, at work, even in our own homes (though fortunately not mine). Just yesterday I saw many unhappy people during our weekly Sunday morning long run through Solon--a city with too many two-lane roads with no sidewalks. On multiple occasions angry drivers, some dressed in church attire and others not, buzzed us. A few perched us. And still a few rolled down their window and cursed at us. It happens every Sunday. It's like open season on us.

(While the overwhelming majority of church-going people are good people who would never want to hurt others and would actually go out of their way to help their fellow human being, as is the case with my family, it is kind of ironic that some folks would drive so aggressively to a house of God. I sometimes feel guilty for not attending church often enough as I run on Sunday morning, but that's a topic for another post....)

There are some drivers, as we saw yesterday morning, who not only won't give you an inch; they take away as many inches as they can and come all too close to hitting you. They seem not to care. In fact, it seems to make some of them...happy. An unhealthy happiness. Solon's a nice town with nice folks. I can't understand where these mean drivers we encounter are coming from...hell maybe?

Back to being happy.

About last year at this time, I discovered my own formula for happiness. Let me first disclose that I have my bad days. Just ask my family. Like any human being, I go through peaks and valleys. I get down. I won't claim my formula for happiness would work for everyone but maybe it would because it's really helped me.

First, a few observations. Everyone wants happiness but yet too many people relish anger, hostility and conflict and hold onto stress that they desperately need to release for their own health's sake. They lack a life's passion that would relieve them of stress because they're so paralyzed by the unhappiness of their own existence and circumstances around them (gas and grocery prices, childish politicians, bills, family in-fighting, etc.). Too many people simply don't make the effort to be happy--to find happiness--because they believe happiness must find them. They don't hold themselves accountable for their own happiness. Which is really tragic because happiness is contagious and to be happy is to make the world a better place. I have found all of this out through my own experiences--some good, some bad.

So what's the formula for happiness?

Happiness = Family+Faith+Job+Fill in the Blank

My family includes my wife, my family on both sides and my extended running family. As a general rule of this blog, I won't go into detail about my wife and family, other than to say they come first always and I count myself as fortunate to have each and every one of them. I talk about my running family often on here. I hope it's obvious how much I care about them.

My faith is my faith in God. Although you won't often find me in church on Sunday mornings, strong faith has allowed me to persevere in the toughest of times and find a purpose.

I have found happiness in my job because I am grateful for the opportunity to do professionally what I am supposed to do--writing and communicating. I know what it's like to be unemployed. I was unemployed this time last year and experienced a depression bad enough to make going outside for a run exhausting (which could explain my awful 3:23 at Boston). And so I find happiness every day when I enter the parking garage of my employer, knowing I have a job to do and that I'll be rewarded with a paycheck, benefits, maybe a raise and the camaraderie of a team.

Call me a Pollyanna.

OK, so what's supposed to go in the blank? Only you can answer that question. For me and many of my running friends, that blank is filled in the moment we lace up our running shoes and head out the door. That's because running is a passion for me and so many I know. Often, it's the only time the world makes sense to me, maybe because there's a spiritual element to it. Sometimes, I feel like I take my first breath of the week when I get out of my car at Lock 29 for our Saturday trail run. My passion brings balance to my life and, by extension, brings happiness to me and helps people I'm close to be happy.

For others, that fourth blank might be painting landscapes, riding horses, cycling, gardening, going on missions, cooking, sailing, walking, camping, playing bridge, golfing, teaching Sunday school, reading, playing tennis, etc. Only you can find that fourth element of your own happiness.

If you already have the first three in line but don't know what your passion is, what's stopping you from filling in your own blank? To not find your passion is a tragedy. You owe it to yourself, your family and the world to be happy. Be.Happy.Today.


  1. It always amazes me how unhappy so many people are. Most people who are mean, or who do hurtful things generally have very poor lives and they are truly miserable. It's also always been a mystery to me why so many of those miserable people are church-goers...I worked as a waitress from the time I was 15 until after I graduated college. Sundays were the WORST day because all of the people who came in not only didn't tip well, but they were some of the most evil people I have ever come across. Amazing.

  2. Glad you have found your happy place :) Life's too short to be miserable. Great post again!

  3. Wyatt,
    You are so correct. Good luck with your training!

  4. Wyatt, do you realize that by being so obviously happy, you're making the miserable people even more miserable. ;-)

    Nice thoughts, and I am glad for you. Just wondering, were you stopped by the Solon cop and told to run single file? He stopped a group of us and scolded us. I think he was reacting to a complaint, probably from one of those 'all-dressed-up-for-church-pretending-to-be-holy-but-actually-filled-with-anger-and-resentment-and envy' drivers.

  5. happiness is an attitude, your choice to be happy begins with I just like to bitch and that makes me happy, also chocolate, gummy bears, ice cream, etc. i guess my happiness formula is a little more complex than yours.