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Choosing happiness

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I didn’t really think about happiness – or even if I was happy – until I started working on the feature for this month’s edition.

        And that story came to me as a fluke.

        I was scrolling through my email in mid-March, and in it was an invitation to a presentation being offered at the Pleasant View Senior Center in East Longmeadow, the hometown of Reminder Publishing, Prime’s parent company.

        I’ve attended many programs at the Senior Center in town – their executive director, Erin Koebler, and activities director Alicia Smith, are both forward-thinking and innovative people. You might remember the podcast story I wrote for the January 2023 issue of Prime – that was prompted by programming taking place at Pleasant View, and attending a recording session for their podcast was a fabulous experience. 

        This last invitation was to a presentation titled “Celebrate Joy, Happiness and Humor,” by Longmeadow based motivational speaker Dr. Steve Sobel. Having recently read about some scientific studies linking happiness with longevity, I was intrigued.

        I was familiar with Sobel and his work – he’s conducted some motivational seminars for The Reminder‘s staff in the past – and I was happy to meet with him prior to the presentation to discuss his upcoming talk

        We chatted about the growing popularity of his upcoming presentation – the East Longmeadow event was a follow-up to a popular presentation he had made at the Longmeadow Adult Center in December of last year – and the original inspiration for his talk, “The Good Times Handbook – Your Guide to a Positive Attitude and an Exciting Life” that Sobel had penned back in the early 1990s.

        We also talked about his current source of joy – a regular stint as a substitute teacher at the local middle school. He was finding happiness in making connections with the next generation though his work at the school.

        In his presentation, which I later attended, he emphasized the need to find “little teaspoons of joy” in everyday life, and how attitude can make a difference in how we think and feel.

        For his observations and inspirations, check out this feature.

        As I said, working on this story made me think a lot about my own frame of mind. Was I happy? What made me happy? How could I find more happiness in my life?

        Like Sobel, I’ve chosen to keep working, though I could technically retire. Why? Because what I do makes me happy. I love ferreting out a good story. I enjoy finding information to share with you, Prime’s readers. I also love working with my colleagues, many of them are young enough to be my children. I’ve jokingly told a colleague that I sometimes think of the younger members of our staff as “my kids.” I’m grateful that they share their more modern attitudes, tech knowledge, and sometimes, snippets of their lives, with me.

        But work isn’t one’s whole life, and I’m very happy with the new schedule I’ve been able to set at this stage of life, giving me more time to pursue things I also love – gardening, cooking, travel, good books and more time with my husband and my family. I’m blessed.

        Happiness is an attitude. It’s also in some cases, a product of choices. We all have 24 hours in the day. How we choose to spend them is our decision.

        May you find inspiration in this month’s feature story to make your own happiness choices. And as always, thanks for reading.     

Debbie Gardner