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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


We humans have a lot of things backwards. One of them is that we think we'll be happy once we are successful, but Harvard-educated author and researcher, Shawn Achor says we have that backwards too.

According to his book The Happiness Advantage, we tend to become more successful when we are happy instead of the other way around.

If I had it to do over, I would want to be a happiness researcher. That wasn’t even a thing when I was in school. If I remember correctly, it was more like both the wheel and fire were the up-and-coming options when I was choosing a career path.

I do know one thing that has always made me happy, and that is reading. I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t my favorite thing, so I have a lot of books. Paul once told me that for every new one I brought in, I had to give one away. I boxed up HIS books, and now I have room for many more.

Yesterday I went to Goodwill to check out their shelves. I found one book by a favorite author, and I also found a copy of another that’s been on my wish list: The Geography of Bliss. In the book, the author travels to some of the happiest countries in the world and researches why they are as happy as they are.

I literally have not even finished reading the introduction yet, but when he talks about how he decided to write this book he says he was given the advice writers often hear: write what you know. It’s good advice.

So I’m going to write about what I know: I know good people. I know a lot of good people in a lot of different areas, but today I’m talking specifically about the good people I worked with this past week for the event Cookies and Cocoa with Santa.

The planning and organizing started a long time ago. And then on Thursday, a crowd came out to prepare the area for the event. There were people putting up Christmas trees, hanging garlands, unwrapping pounds of candy that would eventually be put on gingerbread houses, decorating every inch of the place. Everything that remained undecorated was quickly wrapped in ribbon.

Very early on Saturday morning, all of these good people rolled in, made coffee and cocoa, finished up the final touches and got ready to welcome parents from all around the community who were bringing their kids to make crafts, eat lots of sugar and have their pictures taken with Santa.

These good people worked side by side all morning and into the afternoon, not on something for themselves. They worked to make others happy, to put a smile on the faces of not only the little ones but their parents as well. And here’s the thing, despite the fact that it was a lot of people working hard, they were happy to be together, happy to spend time together and laugh and joke.

At the very end, with Santa sitting in his sleigh, all of the volunteers piled in around him and laughed and smiled while they got their own picture made. Looking at the photograph later, I couldn’t help but think they really are good people making up one big family and a whole lot of love.

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