Newton is happy. It took him a surprisingly long time considering the fact that he’d always wanted to be happy. Newton came from a very sad family. He spent many years believing his constant, longing anxiety was genetic. After all, the entire family had it with the exception of Newton’s little sister April. He always wondered how she had escaped the family curse.
Newton wasn’t lazy about his pursuit of happiness. He read a lot of things that other sad people had written about happy people. He could move through a shopping mall and spot everyone happier than he’d ever been, and Newton would feel the weight of his family upon him. He would often ask himself why he couldn’t have been born as April.
April didn’t really know how to be happy, that seemed to come naturally. She did however know how not to be sad. To her the differences between she and her family was not in their happiness levels, it was in what they focused on.
The very first thing in the morning April would wake up to a brand new day and she would be filled with wonder about it. Would she meet a new friend? Discover a career? Hear her new favourite song for the first time? Maybe she would start one of the best books she’d ever read! Who knew? The mystery of it was always very exciting to April and her eyes were always open to catch life’s glories.
Newton’s father woke up worrying about the bills and his mother woke up angry about the mess that was left in the kitchen on the weekend. Newton’s sister June woke up knowing that today would be as disappointing as yesterday and his sister May woke up and was fine until she looked in a mirror and started hating her own body. Newton woke up very nervous about not yet being a happy person, and his brother Albert woke up okay, but within five minutes something or other would offend him and that would ruin the rest of his day.
One day Newton was walking his dog Atom and they ran into Scott in a ravine. Atom never liked people but Atom liked Scott. Newton found that curious and the fact started a conversation. Newton wouldn’t have necessarily called Scott happy but he was a strange kind of content that Newton found very appealing. What followed was one of the strangest conversations that Newton had ever had. He asked if there was any way he could continue to have them and Scott explained they could meet each week if he liked.
Newton almost immediately forgot he was actually trying to learn about happiness. The conversations were so free-ranging and enjoyable. They never seemed to be about actual happiness, they were always about strange tribes or movies or famous people or science. And yet Newton could feel himself getting happier.
Scott explained that, with the exception of April, Newton’s family wanted. Newton’s father wanted more money, his mother wanted the past to be different. June wanted a better life, May wanted a better body, Albert wanted everyone to cater to him and Newton wanted to be happy. Scott explained that you can’t want to be happy because then you’re wanting instead of being happy.
Scott explained that Newton already was who he’d always wanted to be. Newton had just never put that person in motion. Now Newton’s in motion. He doesn’t want to be happy. He’s like April. He wakes up each day filled with anticipation about all of the wonderful, rewarding experiences he might have and all day long he watches for them. And just like his mom and dad and sister and brother continue to see their wants loud and clear, Newton and April see amazing potential in each moment and how could a person not be happy about that?
Now that Newton doesn’t want to be happy any more Newton is now free to be happy. Be like Newton. Be free.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.