Newton is happy. It took him a surprisingly long time to be that way, 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.
Despite what her brother thought, 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 her 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. His sister May woke up and was fine until she looked in a mirror and started hating her own body.
At least his brother Albert woke up okay. But within five minutes, he would always manage to find something or other that would offend him, and that would ruin the rest of his day. And for his part, Newton woke up very nervous about not yet being a happy person,
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 and most wonderous conversations that Newton had ever had. It started when he asked if there was any way he could continue talking with Scott, who in turn noted that they could meet each week if he liked.
When he had his sessions with Scott, 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, and he was starting to understand why.
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.
In the end, just like his mom and dad and sister and brother continue to see their wants loud and clear, Newton and April only see the 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 free to be happy. Let’s be like Newton.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.