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.