79: Authentic Happiness

79: Authentic Happiness

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

Authentic Happiness

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.

~Norm Papernick

I came home eager to share what I’d learned at my class on authentic happiness. My ninety-year-old father sat at the table waiting for his beer. My husband sat at the other end folding over his newspaper to examine the Sudoku.

“Dad,” I said. “Guess the one thing in life that makes people the most happy?”

He pursed his lips. He glanced longingly at the beer I carried to him and then pushing himself slightly away from the table, he said, “A bowel movement?”

I rolled my eyes.

My husband peered up from his calculations, suppressed a chuckle, and stared at his father-in-law. “At your age, that’s about right,” he concurred.

Dad laughed.

“Seriously, Dad, what do happy people feel that unhappy folks don’t?” I persisted.

I saw his mind clicking away. “No more bathroom humor,” I cautioned. A few minutes later, after I’d forgotten about our conversation and was busy with cleaning the table, Dad spoke.

“Empathy!” he announced.

“That’s a good guess,” I replied.

“Consideration for others,” offered my hubby.

“You’re on the right track,” I prodded.

“I give up,” said Dad, and he took a swig of Warsteiner.

I carried the knockwursts to the table.

“I like bauernwurst better,” said Dad. “You got these at the grocery store, didn’t you?”

“In the deli section,” I replied.

“You need to go to a German butcher,” Dad said.

“There aren’t any around here. Remember, you now live with us in Carolina.”

“No exotic food, huh?”

“That’s right. Now be grateful for the knockwurst,” I advised.

We all bit in and the juicy sausages tasted good. “I’m thankful I found these,” I said.

They munched away. “I appreciate good food, don’t you?” I queried.

“I do,” said Dad.

“Okay, now, if you’ve been listening to me, I’ve given you clues. What is the number one thing that makes people kinder to each other and makes them do more ‘good’ in the world than unhappy folks do?” The two bookends, my dad and husband, stared at each other like stone gargoyles on Notre Dame. Dad shrugged.

“Gratitude!” I announced. “Happy folks recite their blessings and know how they occurred and savor the moments in life; they are mindful of the present. They thank people for favors and they thank their God for being blessed with life.”

“I still like your father’s answer,” replied my spouse.

I thought about all the things and people and institutions I am grateful for. I studied my husband, now in conference with my aged dad as they huddled over the crossword puzzle, and my husband said to the old guy and patted him on the back: “Good job! How in the world did you know that word, ‘olio’?”

“I’m a warehouse of worthless knowledge,” my stooped old dad answered.

And, I smile. I feel grateful for these men, the moment, and the merriment of mirth.

~Erika Hoffman

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