Happiness is a byproduct

I?ve written about happiness before. In fact, that?s how I met Ginnie. It was from that first article I wrote about happiness. She sent me an email concerning happiness and, quick like Curtis thinks, I asked her if she would like to have lunch. She naively agreed.

I had fabricated a story that I would be in Ottumwa for an insurance appointment (which is where Ginnie lived at the time). You see, I can discern a person?s personality from their writing, even if it is in the form of an email. Call it ESP if you will.

Actually, it comes from years of writing and reading ?- one develops a sense for the person at the other end of the communication. I wasn?t wrong. Ginnie and I have been happily married now going on three years.

Anyhow, the gist of my ?Happiness? column was that ?happiness is the byproduct of living the right kind of life,? which is a direct quote from my daily meditation book. There had been a radio broadcast about how to find happiness. I called in to the broadcast with that quote and was roundly laughed off the air by the so called ?experts.? Those experts told that my formula for happiness was much too simplistic. There had to be a more complicated formula, some cosmic path to follow on the way to everlasting happiness.

Fast forward to today. In that same daily meditation book that I have been faithfully reading every morning now for 28 years, I discovered another passage that I somehow had missed. It?s amazing how someone can slip in and place a passage in my meditation book without me catching them.

It states: ?By persistent practice, you can eventually obtain joy, peace, assurance, security, health, happiness and serenity.?

?By persistent practice? ? in other words, happiness is not something you can set as a goal, listing the number of steps necessary to obtain that goal, checking each one off when completed, and at the end of that exercise you will have found happiness.

First of all, happiness is not a process that you can diagram, list on flip-chart tear sheets and hang around the room in different colors of magic marker. Second, happiness is an individual thing. My definition of happiness may not be your definition. For example: my happiness is contingent upon sobriety first and foremost, and for me, sobriety (which includes serenity) can only be achieved through reliance on a Higher Power, i.e., God.

For someone else, for people with non-addictive personalities, happiness may take a completely different route, a route through family, friends, relationships, service, faith, work, play, etc.

In our modern online, social media crazed, World Wide Web, tweet-filled, nose-in-the-phone world, happiness has been compartmentalized into more of an emotion or emoticon. Someone ?likes? my photo, or something I?ve said or ?shared,? therefore, I am happy.

We want it all and we want it right now.

Once again, from my daily meditation book: ?True happiness comes as a result of living in all respects the way you believe God wants you to live, with regard to yourself and to other people.?

This morning, I felt the touch of Ginnie?s soft skin against mine and the warmth and comfort of a cozy bed. Could I be any more happy? I don?t think so. When asked how I?m doing lately, I?ve been telling people, without sarcasm, ?Living the dream,? and meaning it.

It?s been a long journey. And worth every step.


Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook.