The key to life is not accumulation. It's contribution.
- Stephen Covey
Early last week I had a moment to go through our 11-year-old daughter Eloise’s school papers (why I didn’t do this each school day as schoolwork came home is another story!). I so enjoyed coming across her writings and math and science work.
One piece was a sheet of paper with “Current Events” typed at the top with lines below to be filled in. Eloise had chosen to write a current events article entitled, “Smile, It Is the International Day of Happiness.”
I didn’t know this day existed! From Eloise’s paper, I learned that the International Day of Happiness is March 20. Recognition of this day began in 2012 (good thing I haven’t missed out on too many!) and was proposed by the country of Bhutan.
The purpose of this day is to do the things that make you smile, make you happy and content. My daughter wrote, “Sometimes all you have to do is start smiling, make yourself some hot cocoa, and snuggle up inside a blanket and read a good book.” Just the thought of these things envelops me with contentment.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Happiness is an emotional state that means something slightly different to all people: The things that make each individual happy vary, but the actual emotion can feel unique as well.
We are all adversely affected, to some degree or another, by outside factors–bad weather, traffic jams, stressful situations, difficult people–but it is empowering to think that each of us has the ability to set our course of happiness every day despite seemingly negative influences. Not always easy, for sure, but possible (and at least worth a try).
Norman Vincent Peale, my grandfather, wrote, “Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.”
Grandpa Peale shares with us in this quotation that happiness can be ours with effort, practice and a sense of purpose. Grandpa understood the hurdles, the outside influences, that can challenge happy thinking, but he was a believer in every individual’s gift of strength and power to reach a place of contentment in his or her life.
Some days, some moments, are harder than others, but happiness is ours for the taking if we set our minds to it and make it a priority.
I know that what Guideposts Foundation offers through its outreach programs has the power to bring happiness to others.
I have seen a child light up upon receiving a Comfort Kit while in the hospital, read grateful emails from people who felt like their prayers were heard through OurPrayer, and learned that Guideposts inspirational booklets have been absorbed by our military members while serving overseas, far from the things back home that bring them happiness.
Thank you for your support of these outreach programs. Giving and knowing that others will be lifted by your generosity–now that’s a sure path to happiness.
Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.