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News[letter] From The Happy Side


This whole process of exploring happiness for our website and newsletter has been interesting and enlightening for me (Alan). It has provided me the impetus and avenue to give thought to happiness on a personal level . . . what it means, where to find it, how to hold on to it. And it has given me an opportunity to look inside myself, and to understand what my happiness is. In previous newsletters Alice and I have explored happiness that surrounds us all on nearly a moment to moment basis, in both the big things and all the little things that cross our paths. Over the past couple of weeks however, my reflections on happiness have turned inward. 

If two people go on the same walk down the same trail through the same forest, will both people feel equally happy about their experience? Obviously not. One may feel that the air is chilly, or that the ground is damp. The other may notice the warmth of the sunlight squinting through the leaves sunning his face, or the chirping of songbirds in nearby trees. While both people are on the same trail, their perceptions of it can vary wildly. I think it’s safe to say that while they are on the same trail, inwardly they are traveling down completely different paths. It’s not where we are that determines our happiness, it’s where we are going!

Alan B. Havis and Alice B. McGinty

Quotes From the Happy Side

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Joseph Addison

“Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.” – Buddha

News From the Happy Side

There’s not a lot of happy news out there right now, so we thought we’d give you some news of our past few weeks, as we’ve launched our book, The Sea Knows. It’s a challenge launching a book during a pandemic. No signings. No parties. No events.  

But we’ve been shouting out via e-mail, social media, video readings, and live online events. We also e-mailed independent bookstores all along the U.S. coasts, telling them about The Sea Knows. Sometimes the online communication feels isolated, like we’re spinning our wheels, tossing things out into the world with little feedback.  

But, here’s the good news. First, the names of the bookstores alone make me (Alice) happy - Hooray for Books, Scramble, Duck’s Cottage, My Sister’s Books, Once Upon A Bookseller, Bayou A Book, Dog’s Ears, Lion’s Mouth, Sleepy Cat, Buy the Book, Avoid the Day, Ink Spell, Bookasaurous, Mr. Mopps, and Mrs. Figg’s Bookworm. Lovingly named businesses, run by folks with passion and love.  

Then there are the responses -- a note back from a bookstore saying “We love the book,” and “just right for our clientele.” Here are a couple of favorites:  

“Thank you for letting us know about your delightful children's book, "The Sea Knows." It surely does sound like a book we want to have on our shelves.”

“…we wanted to let you know we are featuring The Sea Knows in our Summer Picks brochure (and will draw attention to it on our site and on social media later in the summer). Needless to say–we are big fans…”

And last, there were the times when we couldn’t find an e-mail for the store, so I’d call them. Those conversations were the happiest moments of all, learning that one bookstore is hanging in okay on the Texas coast, that another has ordered the book as we spoke. I’d get off the phone feeling bolstered, hopeful, and connected. I should call a bookstore every day! 

Alice and Alan opening our first box of books on launch day.

Song From the Happy Side

Sh Boom, by the Crew Cuts

Book From the Happy Side

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (Part 1)

The Happiness Project chronicles Gretchen Rubin’s year-long experiment to see if simple life changes could increase her happiness. After much research, she identified twelve elements in her life to address, made action items for each, and dedicated a month to each one. Here is a summary of her first 6 months.

January: Boost Energy (Vitality)

Research shows that happiness energizes you, and being energetic leads to a more active and fulfilling life. Feeling weak and stressed, on the other hand, makes things seem harder. Following these action items, Gretchen gave her energy a boost: 

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise more
  • Toss, restore, organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
  • Act more energetic

February: Remember Love (Marriage) 

After reading respected books about relationships, Gretchen worked to have fewer negative experiences in her marriage (which research shows is more important than having a higher number of positive experiences) through these action items:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

Though she could not control her husband’s reactions to her efforts, she was pleased with the changes she made in her relationship.

March: Aim Higher (Work)

To find happiness through challenge and novelty, Gretchen launched a blog. Though she knew little about it, she let her enthusiasm and determination carry her through with these action items:

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

April: Lighten Up (Parenthood)

In April it was time to address parenthood by singing each morning (which her daughter once told someone she loved, though Gretchen had rarely done it) and acting the way she wanted to feel:

  • Sing in the morning
  • Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories (revisiting/ remembering happy moments)
  • Take time for projects

May: Be Serious About Play (Leisure) 

Gretchen worked at adding more fun to her life. She experimented, learned to better know herself, and found her own path to fun:

  • Find more fun
  • Take time to be silly
  • Go off the path
  • Start a collection

June: Make Time for Friends (Friendship)

Gretchen’s research showed her that friendships, relationships and social interactions are key elements of a happy life, so she worked on nurturing friendships and helping others through these action items:

  • Remember birthdays
  • Be generous
  • Show up
  • Don’t gossip
  • Make three new friends

She realized, to make yourself happy, make others happy.

As Gretchen chronicles her experiment, in The Happiness Project, her writing is honest and straightforward. We follow her successes and failures as she systematically moves through her experiment. Stay tuned for our next newsletter to learn about part two of The Happiness Project.

Activity From the Happy Side

Form your own Happiness Project. What elements would you like to address in your life to add to your happiness. Like Gretchen, make a list or chart of action items to look at every day. Set a period of time and give it a try. 

Thanks for your continued interest in happiness and our News[letter] From The Happy Side.   

Stay healthy and be happy,

Alice & Alan

Copyright © 2020 News From The Happy Side, All rights reserved.