Recipe for Happiness


“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” -Anne Frank

I spent a lot of money taking classes about behavior in organizations, then I got out of school and in a few years, went to work for a fellow that was all about energy, enthusiasm, and optimism.  I’ll call him “Bill.”  I remember a discussion with Bill. 

“What are you talking about” I said, “there are six people in that department that are smarter and more knowledgeable than Joe.”

“Yes,” he said, “but Joe’s happy.”

College teaches you to fit everything into a model and track it on a spreadsheet.  Sometimes that thinking misses the softer things of life that permeate and matter in the world around us.

I didn’t understand Bill at the time but now, approaching twenty years later, I think Bill was more right than wrong.  Attitude counts more than skills or smarts.  I admire the person that can be happy and optimistic while standing in two feet of mud.  That’s the person I want to hire.  That’s the person I want to be around.

We reap what we sow.  If we can find a way to be happy, even a seed of happiness, we’ll reap more than we sow.  Happiness grows and happiness spreads.

Where do we find our seeds of happiness?  In little things.  I find it in family and faith.  I find it in the corners of my world, usually quiet corners.  To me the early dawn, just as the sky turns rose behind the eastern mountains, the rustle of the breeze through the aspen leaves on the trees in the corner of my yard, and moonlight filtering through the pines on a starry night are all seeds to me.  To me, a quiet ride on a country road with my wife helps me realize how fortunate I am and how much I love the world.

One evening, years ago, I took my seven year-old granddaughter down to the river to throw rocks in the water.  Instead she found banks of pine cones windrowed by the winter.  She gathered a bag full to show her mother and her grandmother, some bright brown and some dark and weathered from several winters.  It didn’t matter.  It was a nice seed.

My challenge is not burying the seeds under the demands and chaos of the day.  It seems to help if I invest a few extra moments in my seeds—watching the eastern sky until the rose begins to burnish with gold, or listening to the murmur of the aspen leaves until a melody begins to form.  That brings a little extra peace.  And no man is an island. 

Find your own seeds and watch the ripple effect.  Trust that ripples become waves that break against far shores and that those breaking waves ripple back to you.

Happiness begets happiness.

-Dennis Weaver

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