How to Wake up Smiling


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I came across this passage in an old book about 6 months ago. I fell totally in love with the word behind the words, and thought it just might speak to you as well.

by J. Harvey Howells

“You forgot something,” said my six-year-old urgently as I bent to kiss him good night. He grabbed my hand. “You forgot to ask me what was the happiest thing that happened today.”

“I’m sorry. So I did.” I sat down on the edge of the bed.

At last came the whisper. “Catching that sand eel.” A contented sigh. “My first fish.” He snuggled into the pillow. ” ‘Night, Dad.”

When it started I do not know. Nor do I know how, but this prayerlike ritual has been my own private blessing since beyond memory.

There is a moment of complete loneliness that comes to everyone every day. When the last good night has been murmered and the head is on the pillow, the soul is utterly alone with its thoughts.

It is then that I ask myself, “What was the happiest thing that happened today?”

The waking hours may have been filled with stress and even distress; I have been in a highly competitive business all my life. But no matter what kind of day it has been, there is always a “happiest” thing.

Funnily enough, it’s rarely a big thing. Mostly it’s a fleeting loveliness. Waking to the honk of Canada geese on a crisp fall morning. An unexpected letter from a friend who doesn’t write often. A cool swim on a broiling day. Listening to “Seventy-six Trombones.” Camelias in the snow in an amazed New Orleans. My wife’s face when she makes me laugh.

There’s always something, and as a result I have never had a sleeping pill in my life. I doubt if my son will ever need one either – if he, too, remembers that happiness is not a goal dependent on some future event. It is with us every day if we make the conscious effort to recognize it.

Make each moment count double,

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