Scheduling Happiness


Thought for the Week

It was 1987 and, thanks to the tremendous growth of the mutual fund into which I’d wisely poured our money, we were taking our first real vacation together. It was autumn, and so we’d opted for New England, one of the few places that actually looks like a Photoshopped fall calendar.

After a bumpy start, literally—our plane bounced violently and then lurched to the left upon landing in Boston (Co-pilot to Pilot: “Wake up, Dave, we’re here!”)—and a long delay getting to our foul-smelling “view” hotel, which, in fact, featured a panoramic view of an industrial complex, my wife and I began irritably blaming each other.

All portents pointed to disaster. But we were there, so… We argued our way out of the reservation and drove in tense silence to a chain hotel at the edge of the city. When we got to our upper floor room, we were stunned: it had a breathtaking and completely unadvertised view. And the cords of tension began to loosen. A little.

The next day we drove to Walden Pond. As a young man, I’d cherished my copy of Thoreau’s Walden, and had always wanted to visit its namesake. What we saw immediately re-drew the image in my mind. Rather than the puddle I’d imagined, Walden Pond turned out to be a good-sized lake that mirrored the most beautiful color-saturated woods I’d ever seen. My wife and I walked, talked, prayed, forgave–and began falling back in love again. We determined for the rest of the trip to avoid all vestiges of “the real world” (newspapers, television). There would be only us and God, and his splendid handiwork.

A short time later, we met up with one of my wife’s old friends. She commented on how “honeymoonerish” we seemed, and then asked what we thought about the “crash.” “What crash?” A quick glance in the Boston Globe revealed that, while we’d been blithely strolling Walden, the biggest bear in history had been brutally ravaging Wall Street. They were calling it “Black Monday.”

Thanks to my wise investment strategy, we were more financially in the hole than when we’d first gotten married. And yet at the same time our relationship was stronger than ever. Sensing the latter was far more important, we chose not to let bold Fear drive away diffident Happiness.

Our Autumn in New England was everything we’d hoped for and more–because Happiness decided to join us for the rest of the trip. Our money took a little longer to show up again, but a year later our mutual fund was actually worth more than it had been on Black Monday.

You can’t schedule happiness. But you can focus on the Waldens rather than the Wall Streets, on people rather than things. Because those are, coincidentally, what Happiness values the most. So when it does decide to visit…

It might just stick around for a while.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Scheduling Happiness

  1. “You can’t schedule happiness.”
    So true

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you focused on the “Waldens” rather than the “Wall Streets”. Great post, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A view of the fall colors in New England can fix a multitude of things but mostly refreshing our inner-selves…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Goosebumps. Reminds me of praying about marketing since my third book was about to become a reality, feeling a little overwhelmed. God nudged that marketing isn’t about the IRS. It’s about generosity. What a load off with that beautiful gift. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So true, Mitch. You can’t schedule happiness, but you can control what you choose to focus upon, which will help happiness “show up.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post, Mitch. And nice photo of the “pond”.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. pastorpete51 says:

    Oh, we have been in a few of those hotels that are less than advertised and we didn’t always have the option of “getting out of the reservation”. But one of our most wonderful early marriage vacations was at a super budget one star hotel in Niagra Falls. We had time to be together and enjoyed the same spectacular view of God’s wonders as those in the five-star joints. Great post and a wonderful photo of the fall colors!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Damyanti Biswas says:

    This is lovely, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks, Mitch. John and I do a lot of “happiness” trainings and writing…focusing on well-lived lives and suicide prevention. One of our heroes was Chris Peterson. He said he could sum up all the research in one short sentence. “Other people matter.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Rhonda says:

    What a sweet post. Focusing on “Waldens” vs. “Wall Street” was especially so.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reaseaorg says:

    Stunning photo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh yes, that dreaded October crash. Went to bed one night with our house deposit nest egg growing nicely and woke up the next morning to find it all wiped out. But we rose above, over time, just as you rose above the disappointment of that holiday start. We so focus on economics, careers, etc that it is easy to overlook that the only thing that endures is our family relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jeff says:

    Great post. I will never forget the time we visited Walden Pond. It was 2000, and we landed in Newark (no bumps or lurches that I recall), and made a week-long tour of New England. The same day we saw Walden, we also visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where we saw the graves of Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorn, and Alcott. It was October, and the colors looked just like your photo. Walden Pond was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen, at that point in my life. It’s still way up there.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. revruss1220 says:

    Sorry… I have fallen behind a little in my Mitch readings. I really loved this one for its reminder of the true sources of joy in life. So why is it, do you suppose, that we need these reminders so regularly?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Hmm. Well, Russell, maybe, 1) they’re our true source of joy in life because we’re human, and 2) we need these reminders regularly because we’re ALL TOO human. Just a theory. ;>) Thanks, my friend.


  15. Focusing on the Walden’s is wise advice. Thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s