When I posted the call for stories, essays, and
poems about happiness, I didnít expect much of a response. We donít do
happiness very well, I thought. Weíre much more adept with trouble,
deception, entanglements, threats, betrayal, despair, and darkness. And
why not? Just read the daily news. Sometimes we can manage a ďhappy
ending,Ē but itís likely to be ambiguous, bittersweet, or deeply
So I was surprised to receive almost 400
submissions for this issue, all attempting to interrogate, contemplate,
quantify, meditate upon the true nature and meaning of happiness; all of
them were beautifulóa complete pleasure to read.
I canít say that I found any definitive answers to
the questions I posed in the call for submissions, but isnít happiness
found in the search itself?
I offer here 22 results from my search. What is
happiness? Itís persimmons, pie after golf, your Darliní Pieís kiss,
the unexpected pleasures of solitude, dancing with your children, bread
crumbs, falling leaves, new love, familiar love, frozen squirrels, the
silence of snow. Itís also none of those things, but 500,000 other
things listed by google. Itís a subject too ridiculous and embarrassing
for serious study, but you can seriously study its science at a major
What is happiness? Maybe itís an attitude, a
commitment to compassion, a mode of thinking and being, a way of viewing
the world with kindness, even when everything feels so brutal and
wrong. And why not?
Read, be happy, pass it on.
Jane Armstrongís work has appeared in
Newsweek, The North American Review, Beloit Fiction
Journal, New Orleans Review and elsewhere. She is an
infrequent commentator for National Public Radioís All Things Considered
and an editor at PublicScrutiny.net. She teaches at Northern Arizona