Something you have to learn

Never too young to learn: Owen cheers for the Gwinnett Braves, April 2017

“Nobody is born smiling – being happy in this world is something you have to learn.” — Ashleigh Brilliant

How true! And as with all kinds of education, some people seem naturally better at learning happiness than others. A few are exceptionally gifted in this way, and others are what we might call “learning disabled” when it comes to enjoying life. Even so, I think anyone can learn to be happy at least some of the time. For many of us, being happy is something we will have to re-learn several times during a lifetime, but the payoff is worth it.

I’m in one of those stages where I’m re-learning how to be happy. I am fortunate to be blessed with many great teachers who excel at this subject, and quite a few of them are people who visit us right here on this blog. I am also thankful to report that, despite tremendous sorrows, there are still abundant resources to help us build this skill. And most of them are free!

Today I invite you to join us for class. It’s being held everywhere, including wherever you happen to be right now. Bonus points for bringing your camera, and extra bonus points for sharing with the class.  Suggestions for the location of next week’s class are now being accepted. So far, the list includes: baseball parks, libraries, picnics, tea rooms, church, your friend’s house, and that perennial favorite, your own back yard. Got any other ideas?


  1. Sometimes inside your own head is a happy place… and I certainly find happiness in books and in creativity… all rather more abstract suggestions, but they work for me.
    Every Thursday I take time to consider my sources of happiness when I write my Three Things Thursday blog post. In the 14 months of writing these posts, even at my lowest ebb, I have never failed to be able to think of three things… and how it has lifted my spirits during those low times.

    • Thanks so much for telling me about your Three Things Thursday post! As soon as I read this, I went to your most recent Three Things post, and after reading it, I felt instantly happier! I am so excited for your upcoming trips…and I agree, the anticipation is a huge part of the joy. Books and creativity are tremendous sources of happiness for me, too, and they ensure that much of the time, inside my own head is a colorful, interesting and paradoxically outward-looking place to be. I may have to try a “Three Things Thursday” post myself!

  2. Carolyn

    What a great. Picture, love it. Owen is getting so big. We are well and pray you and Matt are also. Hugs and love .

    • Hi Carolyn, thanks– yes, Owen is getting so big. I have seen so much less of him than I saw of Grady by the time he was a 18 months old. As is typical with the second child, there haven’t been nearly as many photos or videos either; taking care of two kids really cuts down on photo opportunities, not for lack of subjects but just lack of TIME! Matt and I are OK. Sending our love to you and Terry.

  3. MaryAnn

    We just spent a marvelous 3 days in Monterey, CA! My youngest grandson, Aaric, & I swan IN the Pacific Ocean! Such fun & beauty to behold! He took a photo of the sunset over the ocean. It was BEAUTIFUL! He tweeted it, with caption: Monterey Vacation. City of Monterey immediately “Liked” it! (I do not know how to share the photo…:[….)
    Perfect photo of this great dad letting Owen have a “high ride”!

    • Mary Ann, this sounds like so much fun! I started to look for your photo but it sounds like it was on Twitter– there probably would be no way for me to find it by now. Jeff and I always loved going to Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. Matt used to go to a camp nearby and we would take quick “getaways” while Matt was at camp. It’s truly a beautiful place. Love CA and love you!!

      • MaryAnn

        If I have your correct information, I just sent Aaric’s sunset photo to you.

        • Mary Ann, I could not find it in my inbox or spam filter. I check Facebook messaging too, and didn’t see it there. Can you re-send it by email? If you can’t find my address just use

  4. Harry Sims

    Happiness is rooted and gratitude.

    The stronger the root,……………..

    A study of happy older people found that each one still felt like they had a PURPOSE IN LIVING.

    • Harry, I agree. Gratitude is the antidote for all sorts of toxic emotions. It’s hard to feel angry, sad, resentful, bitter or hateful when one is focused on the blessings. I also agree how important it is to have a purpose in living. I’ve reached the age where staying motivated is crucial to even getting out of bed some days. Fortunately I have to get up so early I don’t have time to consider doing otherwise! 🙂

      • Harry Sims

        Thanks for our blessedness. 🙂

        • Amen, Harry.

  5. Rene

    My front porch, my classroom, my photo album…

    • All great choices! I’ll take the photo album, on the front porch, with the iced tea! (That’s meant to be a tribute to the game Clue 🙂 )

  6. Rene

    The beach, which I haven’t been to yet this summer…

    • Rene, I promise whenever you get out here to Virginia, we’ll go to the beach even if it’s winter. Of course, when living close to the beach, we fall into the “I can go anytime…so I never go” syndrome. I plead guilty. But you’re right, the beach is definitely a happy place.

  7. Julia, I’m glad you are emerging from the darker side of grief. It takes time and energy to be both happy and sad, angry and glad. We’re all human, and life can be incredibly hard. I’m finding joy in my garden every day, and though I can’t prove it, I’m pretty sure my pumpkin vines are happy too. Here is a shot of a self-seeded vine racing down the side yard.

    • WOW, this is great! I love it when a plant takes off like that. Can’t wait to see the pumpkins! A garden is definitely a happy place, even when one is pulling weeds. At least for me it is. Thanks for sharing that wonderful photo of your fabulous pumpkin vine.

    • That pumpkin had a lesson for us, too, I think. There can’t be much sun in that space between fence and house, but the vine certainly has made the most of it!

      • Great point, Susan! I’ll remember that on the next literally or figuratively gloomy day!

      • Suzy, you are right. I was fairly sure it would grow but not flower, but nature proved me wrong. The vine has now rounded the corner! I can hardly believe it.

        • Don’t you just love it when happy things happen! 🙂

  8. a waterfall, surrounded by mature forest flora

    • Perfect. I love that faint breeze and the calming steadiness of the water’s flow. Those gorgeous plants obviously love it too.

  9. Megan

    Aw!! I just came over to the blog to look for some pictures of Drew as a kid playing baseball for a little project, and was so happy to see you are blogging again!! And of course thrilled to see Owen’s picture on your page! Also fun to read a bit more about your UK adventures!

    • Thank you, Megan. Did you find the photos you wanted? Most of my “kid” photos of Drew were before digital photography and are thus not (yet) digitized, but I might be able to scan some– assuming I can find them! 🙂

      • Megan

        I found two pics of young Drew playing baseball on here, but would love some others if they are easily accessible. (Would also REALLY love some pics of Jeff playing baseball, if you have access to any…)

        • Hi Megan, as you know by now, I sent some pics of Drew, and will try to digitize some of Jeff’s. His mother has a great many, I think; you might want to ask her for a few of them. I’m sure she’d be happy to share. She has always shared my love of photos and likely would love to show you some of Jeff.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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