I read an article on the bus yesterday that recounts the results of a number of happiness studies. Researchers want to know if happiness is something we experience or something we think.
I love reading articles like this. Once again, research proves that when we think about our experiences we can put the day in a certain framework to create meaning and joy. Not surprisingly, this meaning and joy rarely depend on circumstances.
I'm thinking about that article, and I run into one of the most vibrant and enthusiastic moms in my town. She's waving at me as I make my way through the self check-out line in the grocery store. Within 30 seconds, she's inviting me to her "Alphabet Summer" where everyday at her home celebrates a different letter of the alphabet.
It's "J" day, so there's jam, jello, and jumping in the pool. I'm imagining jugglers and jellyfish and jackals. I smell jasmine.
Her two little boys smile, and one of them says to me, "I just loved 'F' day. 'F' day was the coolest!"
I'm living in the same town as this woman. I'm raising my children on the same streets and we are going to the same grocery stores. I'm making breakfast, doing laundry, cleaning and cooking, and yes, even going to the pool. We both probably worked-out, had coffee, and will feel tired after lunch.
But it's "J" day at her house.
They will jump into the pool instead of easing in. With this alphabet framework, her whole summer radiates with hidden meaning and wonder.
"Do we have a special letter today, Mom?"
Quickly, I think about the curry chicken I've planned for dinner.
"It's 'I' day," I say. "For India."
They are quiet and thinking of exotic lands.
Same old day. Same old dinner. But now, we've got ourselves a happiness framework.