If you scan the self-help section at your local bookstore, you'll likely find many titles promising a variety of ways to achieve that simple yet seemingly endless quest: the pursuit of happiness. To find tried-and-true ways to lift spirits, we asked CanadianLiving.com readers to tell us about what makes them content.
From simple instant boosts to profound, lasting sources of joy, your submissions made our days a little brighter. We hope they have the same smile-inducing effects on you.
A list of pleasures
• Hearing my sister was cancer free!
• Having my brother marry his sweetheart.
• How happy my dog is to see me when I come home from work.
• Seeing people sing along to the radio in their cars while I head home from work - their windows are up and I have no idea what they are singing but they look like they are having fun.
• A kiss from my boyfriend.
• Hearing a child giggle.
• Having a very cosy "full" bed on a Saturday morning -- boyfriend, dog, cat and me.
• Hearing my cat purring away while he eats.
• My flannel sheets.
• My fleece pjs.
• Two elderly people holding hands.
• A rainbow.
• Great big snowflakes falling to the ground on a sunny winter day.
• Fridays at 5 p.m.
• I could go on and on. Ha ha! Cheers.
-- Susan Graham, Kanata, Ont.
What brings a smile to my face? Technology. Thanks to technology I can talk to my daughter every day by e-mail or through MSN Messenger. She and her family moved across the country in August but they seem so much closer because we use our Web cams and I can see them and talk to them so it seems to shorten the distance between us.
I often think of how my mother would have liked to have had this kind of opportunity to talk to my brother who lived in Ontario and only came home on summer vacations. They kept in contact by letters but for me, to be able to sit down at the computer and instantly talk to my daughter hundreds of miles away is something my mother would have envied. I just wish it had been available in her time. Thank goodness it's available in mine.
-- Elaine Downing Armstrong
Page 1 of 3 -- How would you describe the importance of family? Read on to discover the joys of parenthood on page 2Childhood delights
The greatest joy in my life is my two children, when they are kind to one another and play or laugh together, and when they smile and give hugs and kisses. This joy is only enhanced when we can do an outdoor activity together like hiking, camping or beach combing.
-- Marie T. Ryan, St. John's, NL
Snow days in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia! This week we were hit by a blast of winter that we usually only hear about in the rest of the country. Since we are not used to winter driving conditions it is better to stay at home and cocoon with your family which is exactly what we did. The kids sledded with their friends and helped neighbours shovel their driveways. We went for walks and watched the dogs romp and play in the snow. When we lost our power we got out the candles and enjoyed some family conversation. It was just what our family needed -- to relax and spend time together.
-- Shirley Nellist, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
Glorious teen years
I get total joy when I have a good laugh with either of my teenage daughters. I feel blessed that they have kept me as an active part of their lives, and sometimes we just have a really good belly laugh! It may be when I dance the tango with my 13 year old across the kitchen floor (we are both pathetic, but it is just too funny!), or listening to the lyrics of some funny song with my 16 year old. After the laugh, life just seems easier to handle!
-- Jayme Holmes, Aurora, Ont.
Page 2 of 3 -- Learn how to find happiness within yourself and your network of family and friends with more reader stories on page 3
The miracle of life
At 54 years of age I have always found great joy in a bouquet of flowers, a beautiful piece of music, a special moment with individual family members (3 sons, 1 daughter-in-law, treasure of a husband), a friend's kind gesture but most recently one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced was when I held my great niece for the first time.
She was premature and a bad cold had kept me away...finally in the New Year I was able to see her about 3 months after her birth. The moment she was in my arms her little spirit so perfect beyond belief moved me more deeply and profoundly than I have ever been in a long long time. Madalyn is the first baby born in our family of all the nieces and nephews. My heart was filled with joy. I can hardly wait to visit with her again.
-- Deb Attas, Toronto, Ont.
Supportive pals in challenging times
In the last year I have experienced many tough situations, from brain surgery to the end of a long-term relationship to the loss of a very important family member, and the thing that brings me the greatest joy is the fact that at only 28 years old I have the incredible opportunity to be able to acknowledge all of those people who have carried me through these difficult times.
Not many people at my age are given the chance to stop and really take a look at their life -- I have been given this gift in my very early years, so that I can stop and make the changes necessary to choose happiness in my life. This is not an easy path and I have been faced with many challenges along the way, but never alone. I have been given the gift of being able to accept help and support without feeling the shame of having someone lend you a hand -- this allows me to smile through my tears and lets me know that I have so many things to be thankful for every day.
-- Krista Maling, Toronto, Ont.
Last Christmas we bought my then 14 year old daughter a series of riding lessons at a local horse stable. (Something she has wanted to do since she was about 6 years old.) Over the past year we have watched her learn and grow. Her passion for the horses, and their comfort and well-being, growing stronger every visit.
She is now 15 and this Christmas we bought her a horse she had been taking care of since mid fall. His name is Joey and he will follow her everywhere she goes, watch her every move and loves her just as much as she loves him. We have a younger daughter who is 6 who also loves our trips to the barn to be with the horses.
For us, to just take the time to unwind from the everyday, spend time with the girls and the horses, breathe fresh air, get some exercise and just wallow in their sheer joy and passion...I think the word joy could be amplified 100 times!
-- Nancy Petersen, Surrey, B.C.
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