Friday, January 06, 2023

Happy New Year!


What makes me happy? Besides a book and a cup of tea?

A kitchen full of family. From conversations with my mother over the counter in the kitchen, to early mornings cups of tea with my dad, to times with my brothers and their home kitchens, to cooking a holiday meal with my sons and their partners, to the quiet days of emptying the dishwasher while Math Man cooks dinner for us. The holidays this year made me happy on all fronts. Family, food and cups of tea and lots and lots of books.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a large family that even though I am an introvert, it's the people in my life that bring me joy. It turns out that I'm not alone. Last summer I had the privilege of reading a draft of a book a friend was writing on happiness. Marc drew on all the data generated by an ongoing study begun at Harvard in the 1930s (he is the associate director of the study.) I loved the interplay of data and story in the book. (Also fun, seeing your colleague's work in the NY Times.) Whether the conversations happen in the kitchen or elsewhere, what generally makes us happy is our relationships. 

The book (The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz) is coming out this week, and if you're interested in happiness (who isn't?), I recommend it. But I'd also recommend it if developing community as part of the work you do. I'm chairing our parish council through these pandemic years and have really come to appreciate how important relationships are to keeping a community healthy and whole, and the work that is required to keep them going when events such as the pandemic interfere with our usual patterns. So I read this with an eye to what I could learn, not only about my own life, but about the life of the parish.

Happy New Year!