I am starting to read The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. The first chapter begins with The Dalai Lama saying,

"I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.  That is clear.  Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life.  So, I think, the very motion of our life is toward happiness. . ."

The 2nd chapter speaks to the sources of happiness.  It states studies that once our basic material needs are taken care of, "things" don't make us happy.  People compare themselves to others.  I do it.  I am sure everyone does it.  There will always be someone with more or nicer stuff and the Dalai Lama talks about how if we try to get the nicest stuff all the time, we will never be satisfied, let alone happy.  Instead, he suggests a better method "is not to have what we want but rather to want and appreciate what we have."

I began to think about the things that make me happy.  I think like most people, I would pick my family as #1 and my friends as #2.  After that, I had to do some serious thinking about what makes me happy.  I came up with teaching and students for #3.  I was sort of surprised that work ranked so high, because at times it is incredibly stressful and exhausting.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I love getting to know kids.  They are awesome.  I have had students and classes that I would be completely content teaching for the rest of my life.  We learn, we work and we laugh everyday in my classroom.  It is a great place to be.

Here is an example of one of the wonderful students I have had the pleasure to work with.  I saved this email and have read it over dozens of times.  I don't think he knows how much it meant to me.

Hi Mrs. Hamilton

I want to say how sorry I am about your great loss. I was so taken back to see your son Tripp’s obituary in the paper one morning before school, that I had to stop and read it over a few times to see if this was the Hamilton I knew. Over the next few weeks, I was a little bit surprised to find myself thinking about it once every few days and talking about it with my father and mother. 

I have a lot of trouble even thinking about your situation, which is why I have such admiration for the strength and courage you must have to be living though it. Although you were just my math teacher, I want you to know that that’s not the only thing I viewed you as. Yes you were a great teacher, but more importantly, you were a great person, which perhaps is the reason why your news hit me harder than I thought it would. Even for someone as young as me, and someone who is relatively inexperienced in life, It doesn’t feel good to see tragedy happen to people who were so kind, friendly and VERY patient with me. 

I want to thank you for sharing your blog with me. As I read about your life, as well as Tripp’s life I want you to know that even though I’m just some 19-year-old university student you once taught, your son Tripp is having an effect on me. Hearing his story brings me, and I’m sure everyone who reads, a greater appreciation for family and a greater appreciation for life. Which are things I lose sight of so often in my life. So thank you so much for sharing. I wish you and your entire family all the best in the future. Know that you are in my thoughts.

How lucky am I to teach students like this?

What makes me happy?
     1.  Family
     2.  Friends
     3.  Students/Teaching

If I continued the list, I think it would contain more activities (these are in no particular order).
     4.  Reading
     5.  Playing (fastball, with Calder, skating, cards, etc.)
     6.  Cooking/Baking (with someone else doing the clean-up!)
     7.  Being Outdoors (preferably doing one of the above)
     8.  Thinking and Writing
     9.  Curling up on the couch and watching TV with Hugh
     10.  Having a clean house and yard

I find it interesting that when I really sit down and rank things that make me happy I don't find items like, dressing nice, driving a certain vehicle, going on holidays, etc.  Those things give me pleasure, but the things that make me happiest don't cost money.

What makes you happy?


  1. What a great post. Here's what makes me happy & wanting to face each day with a sense of purpose:

    1. Family (including pets!)
    2. Friends
    3. My imagination
    4. Teaching
    5. Rare moments of spotting true beauty in a chaotic world.

  2. I would have to say:
    1. Relationships with family, friends, colleagues and students
    2. Fresh air
    3. Creative activity
    4. silence
    5. books, fireplaces, wine
    6. sharing special moments with special people.

    Great post.

  3. Great post! I have read that book also and found that it gave me alot to think about. I like the part you wrote about noticing that nothing on your list that makes you happy is about what you wear or drive. So true :)

  4. 1. FAMILY
    2. Friends
    3. Eating healthy
    4. Exercising
    5. Reading
    6. Desserts & Wine (this should probably be farther up my list, maybe beside friends)
    7. My sisters blog today :)


  5. some material things make me happy, but mostly it is the really simple things that bring a surge of joy in my belly....laughing fits with Jaiden, cuddles with Emme, holding hands with Kevin, sunlight on my face, the smell of rain here in the Blaeberry, preparing and sharing food, reading a good book, and knowing that there are people in the world who are understanding life is more about love and experiance: not what we have:)


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