Pure Happiness in Hanoi*

Last night I learned a couple of lessons in happiness.  The occasion was an informal reunion of my husband’s 1963 high school class.  It wasn’t the every-ten-years formal event, just a gathering organized by Shirley V. (the “class mom” my spouse says) of school mates who were around and wanted to spend a few hours together at Harry’s Hof Brau.  I knew some of the women through Facebook and also via this blog, but if we met at the last formal reunion I attended (in 1983), none of us remembered.

My readers know that happiness is a subject I come back to time and again, likely because it is something we all seek and it is sometimes (or often) elusive.  Take the current political divisions (please! take them!), COVID, the next flu coming our way, our grown kids, their kids.  As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  And after all these years, there are lots of “anothers”—divorces, deaths of spouses, serious illnesses—the normal results of living a long life.  But everybody at Harry’s was happy to see each other. 

A conversation I had last night with Marcia F. R. somehow very quickly got around to the subject of happiness.  Marcia has had the usual allotment of  difficulties, and she remains very happy.  How does she do it?  She looks for the happinesses in daily life.  What I too often see as burdens (appointments, weeding, grocery shopping, blah, blah, blah) Marcia views as opportunities:  fixing a problem,  being outdoors, running into friends, creating opportunities to meet new people.  She thinks about being happy.  She notices that she’s happy.  

Arthur C. Brooks* writes a weekly happiness column, How to Build a Life,  in The Atlantic and also has a podcast (How to Build a Happy Life) devoted to the subject.  And (whaddaya know?) he has a similar prescription for happiness:  

Notice the connection between physical pain and unhappiness

Practice a form of spirituality:  religion, meditation, other means

Don’t suffer alone:  build bonds of friendship


Photo by moi



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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