A new article in The Atlantic discusses success and happiness. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but the basic gist is that chasing success is a direct route away from happiness. It’s an empty prize box.

I believe it. Money alleviates worry. But at some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Prestige and fame feel great, but they come at a price.

There are some pretty obvious examples in the headlines every day. So what’s the answer?


Relationships make us happy. Gratitude makes us happy. Living in the moment can make us happy.

I just had a very happy couple of days. I stayed with my two favorite toddlers while their parents got out for a very well-deserved and badly needed mini-break.

The door closed behind my son and daughter-in-law and I happily surrendered to my temporary reality; I was going to do nothing but hang out with my granddaughters for the next 18 hours or so.

It brought back my time as a young mother. Days were spent playing, cajoling, explaining, cleaning, and cooking. But there was so much freedom in that limited frame. We could go for a walk. We could jump in the car and chase a rainbow. We could dance in the kitchen. We could have very serious conversations about things both silly and essential. Each day, my son and daughter taught me something new, and I have never enjoyed anything more than I enjoyed watching them grow.

I danced with my granddaughters this weekend, one of them on my hip and the other twirling around the floor. We sang as I made breakfast. They tried to snap their fingers and whistle. We played hide and seek and we had a good talk during an early morning walk.

At one point, Little Miss Sunshine, the big sister, hopped on my lap. “I’d like to snuggle with you for a little,” she said.

We sat and rocked quietly. She’d had a busy day. She suddenly looked up. “I like you, Gaga” she said.

And her little sister, The Deep Thinker, playing with blocks on the floor, smiled.

Now that’s happiness.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.