Guest Column

Are you a happy person?

By Vidya Reddy

Welcome to the Happiness corner. Before you continue to read, I want you to think about this question. Are you a happy person? 

Our Bill of Rights constitutes that each citizen of the United States has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” However, that does not guarantee that everyone will be happy. Some people are just naturally happy, while others may never find it. In the end, we are in charge to pursue our own happiness.

We have all seen people who seemingly have everything – property, health, financial security, education, and just everything one could want in life – yet they never find happiness. And then there are people who have a very meager existence who are happy, helpful, fulfilled people. That has always been a mystery to me.

I was raised right after the Great Depression when no one had money. Luckily we lived on a farm/ranch, so we never went hungry. But we had no money to spend on things. I really did not know until I was grown that we were what some people would call “poor.” We had everything we needed.

We had fun. We had each other. We had plenty to eat (although it might not be our favorite food, it was filling and healthy). We were happy. We are all still a happy, positive family.

When I look back, I see how important it is to raise kids who are happy and satisfied with what they have and make the most of it. For fun we made candies and cookies, played outside, climbed trees, played pretend house, played school, enjoyed picking flowers, swimming in the pond, and kept ourselves busy. 

Are you close up

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Every summer we painted the garden gates, barn doors, cellar door, and everything else Mother and Daddy could think of. We never thought of it as work but as playing together. We sang and talked and observed things around us. I can never remember that we experienced boredom.

Many people enjoy an outward happiness, because of what they are able to achieve, accumulating many things that give satisfaction and comfort, or the acclaim of one’s fellowmen. But to many of these people, there remains an inward hunger and lack of inward happiness, without which no genuine success can be gained. We are not paid for this outward happiness of ours, for it concerns only ourselves. Our true inward happiness is something that is paid for by those lives to which we have contributed comfort, encouragement, and part of ourselves. We are adding to their lives a spiritual substance that nothing material can match.

The very moment that a kind act is completed, some inward happiness is gained. No matter whether it is acknowledged or appreciated. That is no concern of ours. We are ahead. We are the gainer. And it is this inward happiness, secured “without money or price,” that leads us to the peace “that passes all understanding.”

Are you in backyard

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Inward happiness leads us to peace

Younger people will not remember Dr. Albert Schweitzer, but my generation does. His is an inspiring story. He became one of the greatest musicians in Europe, a famous philosopher and theologian, and was continually honored. But that did not seem to satisfy him. During one of his holidays he began to think things over. In his own words, he wrote in his autobiography, “There came to me, as I awoke, the thought that I must not accept this happiness as a matter or course, but must give something in return for it.”

And so it was that a great man pushed aside his already established fame and took up the study of medicine. With that education and experience, he went on an isolated mission in Africa, where he administered to thousands of natives. After completing this step, he further wrote: “Now the answer is found. In addition to the outward, I now have inward happiness.” He was considered at that time to be the “greatest man in the world.” He was a happy, fulfilled, productive and a “rich” man.

In my stuff of “crumbs of food for thought,” I found this reminder: “Happy” stands for H…hard working; A…amazing; P…patient and persistent; P… passionate and peaceful; and Y…youthful. Which of these five letters describe who we are? I have always felt that life is much too short to not be happy.

Coincidentally, while writing this column, I remembered this little poem that someone gave me a long time ago. Author unknown, but he/she sounds depressed and unhappy.

“The (K)not Prayer”:

“Dear Lord, please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.

Remove the have-nots, can-nots and the do-nots.

Erase the will-nots, may-nots, might-nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could-nots, would-nots and should-nots that construct life.

And most of all, dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart, and my life all the am-nots that I have allowed to hold me back. Amen.”

It is clear that this person realized that he/she is not a happy person and is looking for the answers to set themselves free of what is holding them back. 

Which is a topic I will dive into next week. 

In peace, love and gratitude,


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