If It Makes You Happy

There’s a question in life that each of us gets to answer:



“If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?”  –Sheryl Crow

I was hiking this week and came across a California Conservation Corps crew. They were clearing brush near the trail. There were probably ten in the crew. I don’t know if they were volunteers, paid workers, or possibly working off community service hours. One thing was certain. None of them were enjoying the work.

I saw a lot of slouchy, half-hearted shoveling. They each looked exhausted. The brush wasn’t fighting back, but it was on the verge of beating this crew. None of the crew members embraced the joy that can come from working outside as the sun rises. I doubt if any were proud of the job they were doing, or the difference they were making.

They weren’t happy because they didn’t want to be happy.

Are you happiest at home? At work? Running trails? Sewing a quilt? Playing Call of Duty? Cooking dinner? Reviewing your finances? Gazing upon the ocean from the balcony of your stateroom? Sitting in quiet meditation? Mowing the lawn? Sipping a Mai Tai? Pulling weeds? Playing hide-and-seek with your kids? Cleaning your toilets? Watching your kids’ soccer games? Doing the dishes? Surfing? Playing guitar?

If you put this list in descending order from happiest to saddest, which activity is your happiest? Saddest?

I submit that each activity (and hundreds more) can be happy or sad, rewarding or frustrating, peaceful or angry, creative or boring. The activity and its location aren’t nearly as important as the one real determining factor:

The attitude we choose to bring.

There’s a question in life that each of us gets to answer:

What makes me happy?

The answer? The third word of the question.

Until you work on yourself, there isn’t much anyone or anything can do to make you happy.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  –Abraham Lincoln


In honor of this, my 100th blog post, I thought I’d post a picture of two readers I have in my mind as I write each post.  It’s amazing to me that this photo is nearly twenty years old!  My how time flies.


Author: Bob Dailey

Born and raised in Southern California. Graduated from (and met my future wife at) Cal Poly Pomona, in 1988. Married to Janet for almost 35 years. Father of two: Julianne and Jennifer. Grandfather of 7. Held many positions in small, medium, and large companies. Trail runner, competitive stair climber, backpacker, camper, off-roader, world traveler, sometimes writer.

2 thoughts on “If It Makes You Happy”

  1. You are absolutely right, happiness does start with “me”. We can decide whether to be happy or not. I volunteered a couple of summers ago to help my town’s parks and rec dept maintain the miles of single track mountain bike trails that we have. I often thought that we looked happier than some of the people who where biking past us. Here we were shoveling and picking but all having a better time than some who chose to go for a ride. Happiness is choice.

  2. BOB, what a good lesson here. Dennis Prager devotes an hour a week on the topic of Happiness on his radio program—you owe it to yourself and to others and it is all up to you, the individual! What’s more, it is contagious!
    Hope lots of people read your blog— it was very good!.

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