Let’s try something together. A positive mental exercise. Experts have named this technique with a fancy, multi-syllabled extremely hyphenated term, but I can’t pronounce big words. So I’m going to call it “remembering stuff.”
Ready? Let’s begin. Okay. Let’s start by closing our eyes. Excellent. Now we must2i pwof -jglm2-gukmm sd,vw 23hb uwewe.
Okay. On second thought, let’s both keep our eyes open.
New plan. I simply want you to recall the happiest day of your life. Take all the time you need. I’m talking about the king daddy of your happiest occasions. The time when you were giddy with hopefulness. Any great memory will do.
The reason I’m suggesting this is because I got a letter from a young man named Josh who told me that he has been depressed lately; he’s attempted suicide twice this year. Currently, he is in a rehab, which is where he wrote me his letter.
His message reads: “I just want to feel happy again… I miss being normal. I want to feel like I’m loved.”
That’s when I started thinking a lot about this happiness business. Recently I read somewhere that simply recalling a happy moment can trigger small flickers of happiness. Which eventually leads to more happiness. Which theoretically will lead to Gaither sing-alongs.
So I decided to take this idea a step further. I called dozens of friends and asked what THEIR happiest moments were. As of now, I’ve spent the entire morning on the phone, talking to nearly 32 bajillion people, writing these happy moments down. Here are some:
“My happiest memory,” says Michelle (age 49), “was when the doctor told me my mom would recover from COVID.”
“Happiest moment?” says Randy (82). “It was when my grandson, Beau, was born. Beau has Down syndrome and he is my heart and soul. I thought my life was complete a long time ago. But then came Beau. Tell your friend, Josh, I’m praying for him.”
Here’s one from Wanda (39), who lives in Atlanta: “If I had to choose a moment, I would say that it’s when I graduated from nursing school.
“At the graduation ceremony, my family was in the auditorium and they made so much noise when my name was called that the whole audience started laughing.
“My 8-year-old son was actually crying with pride. I overheard him telling people “That’s my mom.’” Wanda pauses. She sniffs. “That was a good day. Tell your friend Josh he is loved.”
This one is from a guy in Ireland named Jack, he’s 54 years old.
“Well, my greatest moment was when I fell in love with my Eliza. She’s a gem. I was 19 and so was she. We were not supposed to get married, her parents are very wealthy, and I’m a mechanic.
“Eliza’s dad cut her off. We had no money and were essentially destitute. Our reception was only a small do, everyone brought their own food and drink, but before we left our party, the priest quietly handed me an envelope with bundles of money collected from all our friends. It was a lot of money, too. He told me he was praying for me. Changed my life to know that many people cared about us. Tell your mate I am praying for him.”
And let us not forget Michael, in Maryland, who suffered a stroke in his 40s, but is 71 now.
“My happiest day was a few days after my stroke when I knew I’d be okay. I knew the old me was dead, and that I’d start living differently.
“After I recovered a little I started taking painting classes to help get dexterity back. I have been painting for 30 years, and I’m closer to my family. It took something scary to wake me up. Tell Josh, we’re thinking of him.”
Shirley is a 51-year-old writer in North Carolina. She shared this:
“My happiest memory was last week when I got married. I’ve been single for 51 years. Now I’m not an old maid anymore! Tell Josh he’s on my heart.”
“My happiest one was before I had arthritis, back when I could quilt without my hands hurting. I quilted with each of my daughters, and all six grandkids, and everyone else who wanted to learn.
“I think I’ve made about 300 quilts in my lifetime, maybe more… So now it’s time to let someone else do it. I don’t care.
“Now I just play games on my phone. Sometimes I play high-stakes poker. Winning money can make you very happy. I also like George Clooney. George Clooney makes me happy. Your friend, Josh, should know that this old lady is praying for him.”
And Madeline (33), who lives in Houston, Texas.
“It was definitely the day my son was born. You see, I was adopted, and as an adopted kid, you pretty much go your whole life thinking your mom didn’t want you.
“That’s probably not true, but you feel like it. You wonder if she hated you, like you weren’t good enough. So when I held my little boy for the first time, I told him, ‘Max, I will never let you go. I want you. You’re just what I want.’ Tell Josh to hang in there.”
And here’s my own happy memory.
It happened today. When I was making dozens of phone calls to friends. Because midway through the day I realized that out of the many cheerful memories I heard, none of them were actually about occasions, places, things, or possessions. People’s happiest memories were all about other people.
And although I know what I’m about to say sounds trite, and very corny, I believe it: the greatest thing about life is all the people.
Well. Take it from me, Josh. There are a lot of people who love you.
Christina - January 26, 2021 7:14 am
Yes Josh you are not alone. Sending lots of love your way. Keep reading Sean’s writing, it will warm your heart everyday.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - January 26, 2021 7:37 am
It ain’t so bad buddy. Just give it some time.
Lucretia Jones - January 26, 2021 9:18 am
. . .add my name to the list, Josh! I love you and I am thinking of you and praying for you. . .
Susan Forte - January 26, 2021 12:51 pm
You are so right, Sean! Happiness is not in places or things—it’s people♥️. Keeping you in my prayers, Josh🙏.
Jan - January 26, 2021 1:34 pm
I am praying for Josh and all my neighbors who had a difficult night last night due to storms and a tornado. Praying for all to be safe and loved!!!
Trilby - January 26, 2021 1:38 pm
Sean, your work is very important. As for me, I have been where Josh is. Since that dark season, I have raised two fine men. I also met and married the most wonderful man I could ever imagine and we live a good life. Through my work, I have encouraged countless people over the years. Each one was in the midst of their own dark chapter. The truth is that we can never really measure the impact we have on each other. You remind me of the everyday miracle of hope.
Lisa Weir - January 26, 2021 1:59 pm
For Josh: Please, never give up because you are worth the fight. I’ve felt depression and hopelessness before but we must never give up. If we do, we may miss out on so many amazing things in life. If it weren’t for the valleys, we would have no peaks. In reading what Sean asked us to think about, I was reminded of more beautiful moments in life than I ever could have imagined. That simple exercise proves that if we choose happy thoughts, we can be happier, whether for a moment, an hour or a day. Repeat it often. Please. You’ve got this!
Beryl - January 26, 2021 2:00 pm
My happiest memory is the one I am currently creating. The greatest power I have been given as a human is choice. I’m always at choice. No one can take away my ability to think. “Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.” ~ Mike Dooley
Josh, cultivating a different way to think about your world is a doable task. Start small and THINK BIG. Get out in Nature. Watch the sunrise, notice the birds getting on with their daily tasks of living, take a deep breath and be awed that your body is doing EVERYTHING to keep you alive. Do something for someone. You’re in rehab-what can you do for someone else? Pour a cup of coffee for another, set up chairs for the group meeting, tell someone you appreciate them, or look in the mirror and say, “I love you Josh.” Like attracts like. You want to feel happy? Do something that makes you happy. You want to feel loved? Love yourself first, be kind to yourself, and remember this: YOU ARE PERFECT! I’m rooting for you, we all are.
Marilyn - January 26, 2021 2:07 pm
Sending thoughts of love to you, Josh. Asking our Good Lord to touch your heart so you feel the love. That dark feeling was once where I was and it isn’t a good place to be, but with help, you will find the sun shining once again. Sending a virtual hug…
Robert M Brenner - January 26, 2021 3:06 pm
Amen to Josh! I know it’s hard to believe when somebody you don’t know and probably never will says they love you! It’s just what good people do, they are there for you spiritually even if they can’ be there in person. Josh, please believe you have many people holding you today, tomorrow and in the future down the road. Good luck from a 74 year old friend…Bob
Suzanne Moore - January 26, 2021 3:26 pm
Please tell Josh to open the blinds every morning, because the sun is going to shine in his life again.
Christine - January 26, 2021 4:58 pm
Suzanne Moore, very well said. Let the sunshine in.
Lee Watt - January 26, 2021 5:07 pm
Josh, my priest asked the parish to pick one word for 2021. I picked hope, because hope is my center. Hope inspires me. I rely upon hope for my well-being, for my wife, my children and my grandchildren.
Hope even humors me. Hope allows me to wonder about the future without being scared. I laugh to myself because hope makes my worries seem smaller. Then, I feel protected.
I hope for you, too, Josh. You are already braver than most people I know, because most folks cannot admit fear. You can and that makes you brave.
I hope for you because you asked for help. This tells me you have good instincts. Trust that instinct. It is God-given.
May you be comforted today, encouraged tomorrow, see glimpses of a brighter future the next day.
May you be slowly filled with soothing hope and covered with blessings.
You are indeed special.
Katherine Karsten - January 26, 2021 5:25 pm
After reading your article, I had the most difficult time deciding the happiest moment of my life! I’ve truly been blessed by God, so I spent a bit of time trying to decide my “Happiest Moment!” I wonder if other readers are having the same soul searching memory recall of their happiest moments?
I’m absolutely positive that my happiest moment was when my boyfriend proposed to me, at work. We had a whirwind romance and were married after only 3 months time. We just “knew” that we were right for one another. We had the same goals, same ideas (even saying things in unison), same values and deep love for one another. We spent 21 years, together, and lived an abundantly happy life together. It truly was a soul connection.
He had some issues at work that were weighing heavily on his mind. He would come home from work at 3:30, then go straight to his computer room and not come out until dinner time. After awhile of this, I asked him why he was hiding out and not interacting with me. I found out that he was viewing young boys in sexual situations. I was totally devastated. He told me that he did not know that he was doing it? What?
I took charge of my life and walked away. I moved to another state and started my life over.
Today, I am to the point of leaving another relationship because of abuse. He had a stroke and it has effected his brain. He doesn’t even know that he is doing it. I will not tolerate that behavior in any way shape or form. He is having a pacemaker placed today, so I feel guilty about even thinking about leaving him, but it’s something that I have to do for my safety and emotional health.
I have no regrets and live my life to the fullest – being happy and loving people for who they are.
Linda Moon - January 26, 2021 6:15 pm
Ha, comedy-man. It took me about one nano-second to “get” the scrambled-letter-and-punctuation sentence you typed with closed eyes. I guess I taught English too long, so I figured out that you, proficient writer, had not consciously made those errors. LIFE for me is people. I cannot choose just one happiest memory of them. But one of the best would be on October 19, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama of an afternoon spent with a humorous raconteur and his wife who were close-by to another raconteur’s resting place in a small town’s Historic Cemetery. Gosh, I love that memory of the people brought me there!
Linda Moon - January 26, 2021 7:22 pm
English teacher here unconsciously made a typo (above) and my eyes weren’t even closed! It should have been “the people WHO brought me there”. You know who you are…..
Anna Reid - January 26, 2021 8:56 pm
We’re praying for you, Josh, and you have a lot of folks who love and care about you. Don’t give up – we care!
Ingrid B Whigham - January 26, 2021 10:08 pm
Thanks, Sean, for gathering these encouraging messages for Josh.
Chasity Davis Ritter. Josh’s cousin - January 27, 2021 1:05 am
Yesterday I shared your blog “A Little Good” for my cousin Josh. He lost his dad this past May and it’s been a really rough year. He lost his home too shortly after. Having lost my Dad 2 years ago I know how much it hurts They were best friends and lived together. He’s been very lost these past 8 months. He’s not the same Josh you are writing about today at least I don’t think so I mean he could have reached out to you it’s very possible but reading some many people are “praying for josh” makes my heart feel a little better for my cousin. I’m sending him this blog today in hopes that it will make his heart feel a little better too. For all of you praying for all the “Joshs” out there… thank you.
Christie McRae - January 27, 2021 3:01 am
I am praying for Josh right now. He needs to know he’s not alone or unloved. May the depression be lifted, his mind be clear and his heart filled with HOPE. JOSH, take a step of faith and cry out to Jesus to help you. He loves you most of all. He created you to have relationship with Him. Pretty cool, huh?!
Sean, loved these stories.
Debi Kilpatrick - January 28, 2021 2:46 pm
I was in Port St. Joe Bay, in a Jon-boat, slowly heading to the tip of Cape San Blas. The sky was that cloudless blue that makes you realize just how small you really are. The water was invisible. As we neared the end of the Cape, where St. Joe Bay blends into our Gulf of Mexico, the sparkling white sand began to appear. Suddenly, a flock of startling white birds burst into the air. Their whiteness against the backdrop of the cerulean sky, that nameless color of our Gulf below them, and the sand glittering like it had diamond dust mixed through it, took my breath. I jumped from the boat, sat in that water of a nameless color, and, I swear, said, “God, if I die right now, I will die truly happy.”
Josh, go to the end of the Cape. You’ll want to live forever just hoping you feel that feeling again.
Charaleen Wright - February 5, 2021 6:01 am
Julie - February 8, 2021 4:41 pm
“These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love; and the greatest of these is Love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13