Happiness is about choice, response and love
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 24, 2002
Widespread drought here in the Canadian West has imperiled many who
depend on the land for a living. Meanwhile, those who have placed their
retirement hopes in North American stock markets are likewise seeing their
expectations dry up.
With the outlook so gloomy, how can this column continue to focus on
I think the answer can be found in some of the letters I've received
Take this letter, for example, from a former Cochrane vice-principal
and a regular at our coffee table:
IN MY MUSING about happiness, and through the challenges I've met
with over time, I have realized that happiness is truly a choice. While
the external often enhances a feeling of happiness or contentment, subtly
provides a glimpse of it, or perhaps coaxes it to become part of one's
being, happiness must still largely come from within.
I feel blessed to have arrived at a point where I can honestly say
that I am happy (as a general state of contentment). Of course, I have
moments of sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, or other like
feelings. Nevertheless, these emotions all pass -- the sigh of happiness
remains with a knowing smile.
Gina Filipetto, Calgary
IF TRUE HAPPINESS is a choice, as Gina emphasizes, then how we respond
to life's happenings lies at the heart of that choice, according to life
skills coach and rancher Patti Kerfoot:
A NOTE TO SAY how much I'm enjoying your columns on happiness, and
especially the one with the story of the hummingbird. It made me think
of something I came across in my reading some years ago and that I try
to live by: The word "happiness" has in it the word "happen"
happiness is about what happens; more specifically, how we respond
(as opposed to react) to what happens. It's not what actually happens
that determines our happiness, but rather our response to what happens.
Challenging sometimes, no?
Patti Kerfoot, Cochrane
I'M BEGINNING to think Gina and Patti are in collusion with the writer
of the next letter, a Toronto choral director and frequent respondent
to this column:
IT WAS THE SUMMER of 1987, and I was living in Minneapolis, falling
in love with someone and opening out into a new life, when everything
fell apart. The person I loved fell out of love with me. I had to find
a series of places to live, after a night in the old Ranchero. I tried
to help a refugee from Central America get to Canada, and the car ran
out of gas, shortly before one of the persons where I was living that
week said that she didn't feel safe having me invite an unknown refugee
into the home. It was that kind of terrible summer.
I was working downtown for a law office as a temp when the last straw
broke my back: somebody stole my not even very valuable 3-speed used
bike. I was pretty dejected as I walked back toward hippie central (the
West Bank of the Mississippi, where all the new parts of the University
had crowded out most of the cheap housing).
I was just past the new Metrodome stadium, gazing dejectedly downward
to the ground, when I saw the graffito that saved me, both then and
innumerable times since:
"Try Plan B."
Oh, so there is one!
Alan Gasser, Toronto
JAN STEFANIC knows about this kind of choice. When I first met her some
years ago, she was a young widow trying to raise two small children. Since
then, she has contended with financial and health issues and numerous
deaths in her family.
Here is what she says about the choice she makes each day:
HAPPINESS IS being filled with God's Holy Spirit, and knowing no matter
what comes against us, God is still in control. It is waking each day
to a brand new opportunity to share His love!
Jan Stefanic, Edmonton
THANK YOU, coffee companions, for your words of wisdom.
© 2002 Warren Harbeck
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