celebrate others and increase your joy

happiness is on my mind with the interactions taking place in the rah rah rah series (random acts of happiness).  today i took a second to write down my 13 happiest moments in 2013, and they ordered something like this:

  • my wedding day
  • a friend telling me she’s in love
  • another friend telling me she’s in love
  • a friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • another friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • my sister winning a house lottery (!)
  • moving to minneapolis
  • a friend getting a job offer that she’s been wanting for a while
  • a friend dropping everything and traveling solo to south america because it’s been on her bucket list for soo long
  • jon’s parents giddy excitement as they planned their trip to the baltic sea
  • jon’s parents excitement when they announced their retirement
  • my brother-in-law’s college graduation
  • my bachelorette party in austin
  • my honeymoon trip to isla mujeres
  • visiting good friends in new york city

the list suggests that some of my happiness comes from personal milestones, but a great deal of it comes from celebrating the achievements of friends and family. does it follow that we can be happier simply by celebrating the good fortune of others?  the answer seems to make sense– if the people around us are flourishing and happy, then their joy is capable of increasing our own.  per usual, i grabbed my camera and headed to the streets of minneapolis to test my theory.  i approached strangers and asked them to talk about the last time they were happy for someone else:0
the first man i approached was more enlightened than the buddha himself.  he looked at me like i was nuts, and he told me that he’s always happy for others. always? always.  he said that he’s happy because he has 4 grandchildren — ages 8, 9, 15, and 17 — and all of them are healthy and loved.  he said that being around his grandchildren is enough to make him happy for all of his days.  i scribbled down his words, and then he gazed up at the sun and reflected for a bit.  after, he told me that he’s also very happy that the people of minneapolis have such wonderful lakes and sunny skies.

while the rest of the responses weren’t exactly going to make the buddha smile, they did provide further insights into what’s making the people of minneapolis happy:
1
“i’m happy it’s my sister’s birthday, and that we’re together at the lake instead of working.” (girl in blue)
“it’s my birthday!!!” (girl in yellow)
2
“i am sophie, and i am happy because my sister just got pregnant. she was trying for a couple years, and it was really tough for her, and then she called from work –even though she wasn’t supposed to be on the phone– and she told me the good news.”
3
“i’m happy that my son came home from maryland to visit for a while. he hasn’t been home since 2009, and now i have him here for 2 weeks.” (woman in hat)
“i’m happy my mom’s happy” (man in hat)
4
“my sister had a job interview today at the school where our mom works — it would be great if they could work together.”
5
“friend of mine just got married – they’re an adorable couple and incredibly happy together.” (guy in sleeveless)
“my sister got engaged” (girl in dress)
“a friend of mine has a coffee-date with a coworker” (guy in polo)
6
“a friend got married – or, well, a few did – it’s wedding season!”
7
“a friend of ours just had a baby–and so did we!”
8
“my brother, joe fessler, just dropped a new album. he was working on the mix for over a year, and it turned out awesome.”
9
“my dad just started his own company”
10
“my daughter just had a perfect baby.”
12
“our son is engaged to the most wonderful woman.”

i set out to make others happy, but i was definitely the lucky one today — it was so. much. fun. listening to all the happy moments that people shared with me.  i loved hearing the enthusiasm  and love with which people spoke about their friends and family (and yes, they were all smiling while they talked — mission accomplished).

biking 10,000 lakes

the incredible number of bike paths and trails that wrap around the city and the lakesvery make for adventurous weekends.  jon and i have taken to hopping on the bikes immediately after coffee, and then riding around to see where we end up.  the first saturday we tried this, we saw the secluded and lively lake harriet, and decided that we wanted to have a house near there — the lakes, the trails, the baseball fields, the outdoor concert arena — it all just felt right.

feeling inspired by our successful outing, we did the same thing this past saturday — except we adventured to cedar lake.  while cedar lake isn’t quite as visually stunning, it’s connected to the kenwood trail, and that make for some scenic riding.

10-photo-7 8.30.09 PM

08-photo-6 8.30.10 PM

07-photo-3 8.30.10 PM

05-photo-4 8.30.10 PM

04-photo-5 8.30.10 PM

03-photo 8.30.10 PM

to plan your own trip, check out this map of the minneapolis bike trails: http://www.minneapolis.org/sites/default/files/u7/pdfs/Mpls-Trails.pdf