Happiness is Kindness

So it turns out that even if the news is depressing or horrific, reading about the acts of kindness that the event inspires is a deterrent to depression. Observing kindness not only reaffirms our view of the human race as basically decent, it inspires more kindness. According to an article in the NYT, “When humans witness an act of kindness, “it gives us a special feeling called elevation,” said Buchanan, describing it as a “warm, fuzzy feeling in the chest,” and “an immediate rush of wanting to be a better person.”

That’s part of why we started doing Happiness Sundays on ReFab so long ago. We’re bombarded by such bad news constantly that we forget to concentrate on the good. And there is so much good in the world. Good people far outnumber the bad, it’s just the bad get all the press. (The news was full of Donald Trump this week, but this week Governor Pritzker of Illinois also signed in a banned book ban; libraries in that state can’t ban books there any more because of political disapproval.). And I’m not a fan of newsletters, but I love the Washington Post’s Optimist newsletter.. Every week I get to read about good people making good things happen in the world. Even if I don’t hit the links and read the articles, the brief descriptions of a dozen good things make me breathe easier.

Happiness is good people doing good things. Good thing there are so many of them.

How was happiness good for you this week?

49 thoughts on “Happiness is Kindness

  1. Ok, on topic:
    Yesterday I went to a karma keg fundraiser (drink beer for a good cause) for a commons garden – a public vege garden with a food sharing cupboard. One passionate guy set it up with other keen people, giving lots of time to make things better for his community. Kindness.

    I am happy that I have never in my life had to wonder where my next meal was coming from (and I’m working hard to be happy about that, and not broken that it’s not the case for everyone).

    Also rans:
    Productivity: I ticked off many things on my list, feels good.
    More food: carrot cake, roast lamb with all the trimmings (crunchy roast potatoes!)
    The mint sauce bottle label: Mary had a little lamb and some roast potatoes (sorry, vegetarians)
    Derry Girls: the nostalgia of 90s teenager idiocy, and hearing my dad’s accent on TV. Och aye.

  2. I went to view two properties yesterday and am fairly sure I’m going to put in an offer on the second tomorrow. It’s part of a converted bookshop! It’s situated in the town in which I work, fairly central, no outside space to maintain and a second bedroom which I will probably turn into a reading room with a sofa bed. It’s not an entirely happy feeling – bittersweet because I never expected to have the money to do so at this stage in my life following Mum’s death, scary because I am going to have to be a grownup and do grownup things like talk to solicitors and get a survey – but to have somewhere that will be mostly mine is a comforting feeling.

    1. I wish you the best in this venture, Hannah. Having your own space comes with liabilities for repairs and such, but it is so fulfilling. No outside space to care for is a plus. An extra room has so many possibilities. Good luck!

    2. I am so happy for you. I know it feels weird, because how can you be happy about something that happened because your mother died. But your mother would’ve wanted this for you. And I know she’s rooting for you. So cherish the joy.

  3. Hey Jenny, any chance of getting the hearts fixed?

    Happiness is hosting my in-laws from BC at the cottage, and yesterday watching them and my stepdaughter all reading together on the dock (my father-in-law reads only books that feature Harley motorcycles), teaching them to paddle board, dog walks in the woods, and my stepdaughter’s baby mamas joining us for dinner and a trip to the local ice creamery for cones. A perfect day.

      1. Same here. I don’t want to pile on to every comment I like but it feels bad not to be able to react

  4. Happiness is a now 7 week old kitten prancing around, discovering his new world, and making me laugh at his antics. In addition, the senior cat has unbent enough to come out and observe the new kitten (from a safe elevated perch) for a few minutes at a time before disappearing into hiding again.

  5. I got to click on your heart, Jenny! It turned red with a +1. I have enjoyed reading the Unsung Hero posts on the NPR print news edition, too. I think it’s a different title, but that’s the idea. Just knowing those people exist and cared is uplifting.

    I’m happy to have both eyes that see wonderful color, again, and that are gradually healing into clearer vision. It’s frustrating, but in time will be a blessing.

    On this Father’s Day I celebrate my two sons who are really great dads. They did not grow up with a very good example, and my dad, their grandfather, who loved and cuddled them, died when they were very young. He somehow found his paternal feelings after they were born. (I do not remember being cuddled.) My sons are raising wonderful kids in a kind, loving way. It is a joy to witness, and makes me very happy.

  6. My happiness is learning to cook potatoes and asparagus in our new air fryer. Oh my, I could eat the fries for every meal. I’m not, but I could.
    Also, looking at the view from our new house and feeling the peace that comes with silence.

  7. Yesterday’s baking mistake turned into a pleasant surprise. I took a blueberry muffin recipe and baked it into a blueberry loaf. Laid out all my ingredients using a smashed banana also in the batter. Melting the butter in the microwave in place of oil. Instead of just using whole milk I divided banana whole milk yogurt with half & half with the milk for the liquid. I tend to fiddle with ingredients by adding extra baking powder. Baked it, took it out of the oven nice and high, let it cool. I noticed my mistake when I opened the microwave to put in the leftovers for lunch and saw the bowl of melted butter. Drats! I sliced it and put butter on it to taste and to my surprise it tasted pretty good. Must have been all that butterfat in the liquids that made it passable. Who knew ‘lessons in chemistry’ are all around us.

    1. In cooking school, that class was called Experimental Kitchen, but your bread sounds much more fun.Since the role of fat in that recipe was for flavor and tenderization, the yogurt was a good substitute.

  8. Was just talking with my dear sister about the pleasure of little interactions with strangers (love to tell people when I admire something they are wearing. Love it when someone does it for me) and the people I don’t know on a personal level, but see repeatedly – the coffee shop owner, the fish guy at the grocer, the FedEx driver ….. people whose day you can brighten or who can brighten yours by being connected on this low stress but friendly basis.

    1. That’s funny. I was thinking about the same thing.

      I went to the Teaching Awards ceremony I told you guys about a while back. I had been shortlisted for an award but didn’t win. I had a very happy time though just chatting with my neighbours at dinner. They were complete strangers but it was lovely to chat with them and when the woman next to me won an award, we were all so pleased for her, as though we had known her for years.

      These tiny connections are so worthwhile and bring us a little piece of happiness every time we make them.

  9. The ReFab Happiness Sunday was life-changing for me. Identifying 2-3 “happy”’ events/ moments that occurred each week helped me pay more attention to the positive aspects of my life. Having always been a “glass half empty, leaking on the floor” person, this was an important paradigm shift for me. Some weeks, I could only think of one thing but it got easier over time. In the last several years, I’ve tried to focus on being a more positive person and to appreciate my life. It’s an ongoing process but I credit ReFab with helping me on this path.

    Big happy this week – new hearing aids. My dog ate one in March and I delayed replacing it. I was relying on the one on my weaker hearing side – less than optimal. It broke suddenly and I had no backup. My hearing aid guy lent me a pair until my new ones arrived this week. Rechargeable and blue toothed on my phone! I can listen to the radio or music without ear phones. Plus talk on my phone without putting it on speaker. Since they hold a charge for a full day, I don’t have to carry batteries with me in case they die during the day. Plus no little batteries to dispose of – win win.

    It’s peony season. One of my favourite flowers. Seems to be a great is year for them so I can enjoy them in other people’s yards when I’m walking the dog, plus on the farm. We’ve been doing a “peony parade” 2x/day – checking for bloom readiness (squishy like a marshmallow) and harvesting them.

    I had a great client session at Dress for Success this week. The organization provides work-appropriate clothing to anyone identifying as female, entering/re-entering the job market. The client was a recent immigrant and had a strong sense of what she liked. We found several outfits for her – sometimes challenging in 90 mins. During the exit interview, she noted that DFS is really helpful for new immigrants who often arrive with limited clothing. She liked to dress fashionably and I was happy to have helped her find sone outfits that gave her her confidence and made her happy. DFS is in many NAm cities and if you’re cleaning out your closet, maybe consider donating work appropriate clothing to them. (Apologies for the plug).

  10. My garden has been struggling this year because of the weird up and down weather, so I ended up going into town to supplement with a few things from the farmer’s market. Seeing all those fresh veggies (and locally raised organic meat) makes me happy. Fresh strawberries. Yum.

    I watched the first episode of season 2 of Strange New Worlds, the new Star Trek show and Carol Kane turned up in a fun role. Apparently she’s being added to the cast. More happy, although it is such a little thing.

    I saw a hynotherapist/brain retraining expert on TikTok explaining that our brains are wired to give 2.5% more weight to negative feelings than to positive ones. At one point in our evolution, that was a protective device, but now it just makes it hard for us. Apparently the way to get around this is to retrain your brain by focusing extra hard on positive feelings and thoughts. Good job, Arghers!

    1. I have seen variations of that statistic, to explain that our ancestors needed to be hyper vigilant to stay alive, and needed to perceive any possible danger. I got that gene in spades. Any positive thoughts help.

    2. Ooooh I love Carol Kane! We haven’t started watching season two yet but now this will make us speed up our timing on this, thank you.

  11. On Friday I held a lunch whose attendees had switched around several times. So, I made two large salads and boiled shrimp and bought a blueberry pie and chilled a nice white wine. I set the table for 4, but only 1 showed up, so we had most of one salad and each drank a glass of wine. Lovely visit.

    As soon as I’d finished cleaning up, a friend texted, elated that a biopsy showed she is “Cancer free!” She was ready to chill the bottle of champagne I had given her for her birthday if I would drive down to CT to share it.

    I brought the lunch salad, shrimp, and open wine; and, our husbands showed up. Her husband grilled burgers, and we feasted and celebrated.

    Serendipity can bring on happiness.

  12. Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a friend who died in April of 2020. This was the first time his family was able to gather and celebrate his passing.

    It was cheerfully pagan, the first such funeral/memorial I’ve ever attended. I have to say I enjoyed it a lot more than the traditional ceremony.

    Tom knew he was dying (he had colon cancer), so he used his last months to put together a video of the things that were important to him–family, friends, work, and nature photography. It was accompanied by a playlist he curated.

    I met him later in life, so the presentation was really illuminating.

  13. I went to a hippie festival yesterday–first time it’s come back–and had a great time. Got some great things, listened to some interesting talks, met an actual ghostbuster.
    Play rehearsal is going well and I have a three day weekend.

  14. Happiness today is that DH helped me move furniture, re-hang pictures, and clean floors so my yoga room is totes spa today. He’s working on a friend’s messed up shoulder.

    Happiness yesterday was getting a chapter written and figuring out what’s in the next chapter.

    Happiness tomorrow will be another day off work and achievable goals. 🙂

  15. A happy week mostly, capped by yesterday’s gift—my mind finally did what I’ve been asking it to do and produced a title for my next book, as well as a structure. I felt fizzy all day because of it, and now have leftover fizzies.

    Lunch out with friends, 2 lengthy phone conversations with a friend who lives in another state, out-of-town friends coming in 2 weeks. It’s a sweet life!

  16. I’m loving summer – all the daylight (even when I wake up at 5 in the morning, or sit watching TV at 9.30pm), and the abundance of flowers, especially roses. My strawberries are insanely productive – picked another couple of kilos this morning, made a batch of fridge jam, and have a big bowlful left to eat this evening.

    Went to a few open studios this afternoon, chatted with artist friends, and bought a colourful abstract.

  17. I think that is why the tiny little Jury Duty show has is become a runaway hit. It’s about kindness.
    I’ve been to four events with Ronald Gladden this week and he is still the kind, funny happy person he was on the show. Success has not changed that part of him.
    Emmy voting opened on Thursday. Jury Duty is nominated in a lot of categories. Cassandra Blair who plays Vanessa. Edy Modica, who plays Jeanne and I have all been nominated for best supporting actress. We’re in a field of 202 women. But still, this was such a small show on a really unknown net work. And we’re actually on the list. That is awesome and it makes me very happy, what makes me even happier is the letter my son Christopher Corbin put on his Instagram asking Academy members to vote for me. I wish us all wonderful pieces of joy this week. They’re out there.

  18. Big happiness this week is I am home from Europe. I had a sort-of wonderful time:

    The negatives; ICELANDAIR. do not fly this airline if you can avoid it. They wanted me to pay for checking my bag even though I was entitled to one free checked bag. They refused to honor my preferred seating in coach even though I paid for it when I bought my ticket. They seated my husband and I several row apart even though we had booked and assigned seats together before we got to the airport. And at the check-in desk at the gate I overheard a teenage (based on my guess of his age) arguing that he and his sister needed to be seated together (she looked to be about 11) not 10 rows apart. I am assuming someone at Icelandair realized he was totally right and worked something out. But still.
    I still have a cough from catching Covid when I first got to Europe and had to self isolate for a week, fortunately we had book an apartment for a week in Sarlat-la-Canéda so we had a place to stay with a great view out the window.

    Amsterdam was wonderful, Brussels was fun and we saw a lot of La Belle France. And ate a bunch of good food. We wanted to spend some time in the country when we were near the Gironde so booked four days at a chateau that is being restored (Chateau Tanesse de Tourny at Bayon-sur-Gironde – near Blaye). It was wonderful and not terribly expensive. Everyday was this amazing spread of fresh fruit, pastry, quiche, and eggs from their small flock of chickens. Every evening a board (breads, cheeses , cold cuts and a glass of wine) for appetizers to relax after a hard day of sight-seeing. Luxurious room. And Val and Enrico were such sweethearts. I will probably never do this again but it was so much fun.

    Also we are home. I can sleep in my own bed. My cats indicate that life was a desert without us even though the house sitter catered to their ever need. And I pre-ordered my Lavender books from Jenny and Bob.

  19. My kind happiness this week involves my next-door neighbors. They mow my lawn for me (and have done for something like 30 years) without making me feel incompetent for not being able to mow. And today’s happiness was being able to do something in return, sort of — the husband mentioned that an out-of-control lilac tree kept threatening to decapitate him when he mowed near it, and he was going to trim it back, but I took care of it myself today, before he had a chance to do it. Earlier in the week, I took the wife on a brief drive around town when she was suffering from cabin fever (broke her wrist a couple weeks ago and can’t drive or do much of anything yet). Makes me happy to offer kindness, as well as to be on the receiving end!

  20. I am happy that someone as skilled as Jack Smith is in charge of the Hidden Documents case against Donald Trump. Watched an interview show in which several sensible Republicans spoke about their own presidential primary race against Trump in 2016 and about their appreciation for Smith’s careful editing of all the possible ways to design the suit to avoid any options for the defense to twist things in their favor.

    Unfortunately, all three of the sensible Republicans are retired and unable to challenge Trump next time he runs for something.

  21. I am happy that I slated some visits with friends for the coming weeks. A friend of my family has a play he both wrote and directed opening this week and I persuaded a friend to buy tickets and go with me next weekend. A few weeks after that I will spend the weekend in Milwaukee with my niece and NIL while we try out the restaurant opened by the couple who catered their wedding reception. Between now and then I will try to reestablish contact with people I haven’t had any contact with since my Mother died 3 years ago. I hope they can forgive that much silence on my part. I can’t find one of the cell phone numbers, but since Eva is now retired, I hope I can track her down at home.

    I actually owe this break from inertia to my New York sister, who was passing through Milwaukee last weekend and prompted a mini reunion last Sunday. We were supposed to grill out (much to the delight of my Manhattan sister,who hasn’t had access to a yard since she left college),but it rained all day. Although we were forced inside,it was nice to be together and I got a chance to explore Tom and Emmy’s new house.

  22. To recover from last week’s commitment ceremony, DH and I spent a week in Edinburgh. For the first few days our neighbors who went to the ceremony were also there. It was fun and relaxing. I think we did most of what we would want to do there — I don’t particularly want to go back. But I’m very happy we went.
    A few highlights —I walked at least 8000 steps every day and some days a lot more, and a lot of stairs, and my bad knee got better with that exercise. That made me very happy.
    We saw the book sculptures — left around Edinburgh by an anonymous artist and made of old books. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_book_sculptures
    Both fried balls of haggis and whiskey icecream are better than I would have expected . One I would happily do again.
    And as I reported on the Thursday post, I learned about the bear that was an army private, later promoted, who helped stack boxes of artillery shells.

  23. My 83 year old mother got out of the hospital after a week and managed to avoid surgery for an intestinal blockage. She’s restricted to soft foods for a week but home and feeling much better. So that made me happy.

    I spent the day coaching kids at the state Youth Fencing Championships. We had about 30 kids compete and almost all of them did very well for their age and experience.

  24. Happiness for me this week was a show called “In Limbo”, which weirdly is about the aftermath of suicide, but it’s also about friendship and is gently funny. The main character is accompanied by the ghost of his dead friend, and its never quite made clear whether the ghost is really there or just his imagination. Really happy that things like this get made.

  25. Hello again! I’m back to scream about smirking, winking, green-eyed characters in romance novels. (crystal green, in this case)


    So hard not to just immediately dnf.

  26. We had a most excellent Father’s Day yesterday. Before our son’s stroke both he and his father bought themselves one humongous smoker and barbeque grill. Yesterday was the day for them to try out their skills. Our son has talked about beer can chicken for a while and finally made it. I helped in putting the chicken on the can. And he could flip burgers. My husband’s made ribs on his side. Both chicken and ribs came out tender and juicy. Grandkids were here also to hug their dad and grandad. All in all it was a pretty good day.

      1. Was able to look it up on a break –it’s interesting that Down Under they use it as both a noun and a verb! Gosh, our neighbors to the far south are so verbally creative!

  27. One of my happies this week involved technology which is usually guaranteed to make me unhappy. There is an easy way to get samples and stuff off your Kindle App but most of the time it glitches and doesn’t work for me.

    I was experiencing deadtime at work & I checked and it was working. Now the only samples on my Kindle are things I want to buy when I can afford them.


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