Those Things Make Happiness

Minuscule ripples in the lake mark the movement of ducklings and the subtlety of happiness. As the emerald mattress cradles our bodies, the sky sheds its warmth—a gift to all of us here in Central Park.

While I scribbled these words in my notebook, I noticed the way the lake stretched its legs in three directions. On that sunny day in New York City, Central Park was crowded. I unearthed joy from the details of my surroundings—the numerous bodies and beings, the prickly texture of the grass, and the faraway window frames of towering buildings.

Like individual raindrops building a downpour, the seemingly small observations composed my happiness in that particular moment.

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.”
~ Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Receiving an email with “Congratulations” in the subject line, getting A’s on exams, landing a dream job—these moments indicating “success” have not brought happiness for me. Why? These moments of good news rely on the promise of our future to bring smiles to our faces.

The sunshine bringing beads of sweat to our foreheads does not promise a better life, but rather demonstrates that we are responding to warm weather and that we are alive. When we are focused on experiencing each moment, there are no promises—only gifts.