To Make Happy

Krista handRecently I’ve been thinking about what makes people happy, including myself of course.  It’s funny because the things I once thought essential to my well-being, like accomplishment, challenge and making a difference are only small pieces of that puzzle.

The real question is: what are our accomplishments and challenges for…?  And what kind of a difference do we make –  if not to make happy? 😎


Last week I attended a man’s funeral. I barely knew this man, but I felt compelled to go.  For some reason, I knew this man commanded my respect, and I wanted to go.  I’m not one to run away from death and I don’t fear much in a crisis, but this was not about death. This was about Life.

This man, whom I barely knew, filled the joint.  The pews were full, and I, a casual observer, sat in the overflow section just outside the side doors, along with two other women and a few gentleman who stood behind us.  We had walked from far down the street – perhaps taking for granted that there would be parking at the little church he attended.  The walk took me all the way from the bottom of the street to the top. It was a nice, sunny day, the snow was melting off the cars and the windshields were shining as we made our way up the hill.

As I entered there was a spirit of respect and joy.  I saw his picture mounted on the TV monitors – a brilliant smile in black and white, slightly blurred, but his spirit was clear – a fine intellect, keen interest in others, and a good sense of humour.  I felt I knew him, that my instincts were right.

The service took on a sad but gleeful air as family and friends shared stories about infamous suppers around the dining table, men putting up drapes badly over three beers, coaching his kids baseball teams, getting to know every one of his niece and nephews – and there were many.  Even a former baseball team member stood up – a woman – and shared a spontaneous tribute to how he saved her through hard times, and how his words carried her through life’s challenges.

Kid Playing Baseball by Chiceaux Lynch

Kid Playing Baseball by Chiceaux Lynch

The interesting part of the service was that not one person stood up and talked about his accomplishments at work. Not one person at the church said, my this man can make a mean budget and stick to it.  Not one person said, this  man built magnificent buildings, and was an outstanding engineer.  Not one.

Every tribute, every tear, and every outburst of laughter came from how this man made others feel.  How he made them happy.

I knew there was a reason I had to go. It wasn’t just to pay tribute, though that was certainly felt deeply as I tried to wipe away tear after tear on my sleeve; it was to take in the lesson this man taught, and still teaches through me and everyone sitting there that day.

Some people say, you can’t make anyone happy except yourself.

They’re wrong.

You can’t make someone happy against their will, certainly not, but anyone who is half-willing (and aren’t we all?) can be made happy by the jolly spirit of another. By the surprise gift, by the phone call.

As I put my own fears to rest, as I witness what it means to live well, I embrace the times I spend with family and friends.  How I took my daughter to the zoo yesterday and wore my bright pink rain-boots at her insistence.  And even though I didn’t get to ride on a camel and pouted like a 5-year old (mostly for her benefit, but secretly for mine as well), we laughed and splashed in puddles and ran down the hills. We nearly cried at the cuteness of penguins waiting in line like children; and we both held our noses and cried “Pee-ewww!” at the stench of the indoor pavilion as we ran through.

Yes, I behaved like a child.  Yes, I drank hot chocolate even though I was on a sugar-free diet.  But I made my daughter happy, and myself, too.

Every person you see is a mirror of you.  Are they smiling, are they laughing? Is there something you can do? Do you need to be lightened, relieved of your worldly desires and concerns? Your heartaches?  Your cares?

Make someone happy today. Make someone smile. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Pretend like it’s the only thing that matters in the world.

Because you never know what makes someone happy, including you.

And you just might surprise yourself.

As Frankie & Doris sing:”Make someone happy,

Make just one someone happy, and

you will be happy too!” 

P.S. What makes you happy? Can you share a story of something unexpected that made someone happy?  :).

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