HappinessRecently, I have learned some things about happiness that have changed my life.

Its OK to be happy There are those of us who feel that we have to earn the right to be happy. I believe that we all have the right to be happy. While we may have to work for it; we don’t have to earn it. I know of no one who truly cares for me that would not want me to be happy.

Its OK to put my happiness first This is something that I keep reminding myself. I tend to get wrapped up in the complexities of life and forget that in the end its OK to be happy.

My happiness is essential to helping others There is no way I can do all the things I need to do for others if I am not fundamentally happy. When I’m not happy I am not myself. I can be moody, sullen, terse and uncaring. Thats not me and thats not good for those I love.

Being happy is the most important gift I can give others There is a shortage of happy people in this country. We seek happiness through shopping, drugs, alcohol, uncommitted sex and a host of other dead ends. Being happy helps free us from those things that wreck our lives.

I will never regret being happy When my life is over and I breath my last breath I know I will not say I was too happy.

Martin Seligman, Ph.D. has researched happiness and other positive traits for many years. He has a number of books on how to be happy. I would recommend visiting his website.

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Credit BetsyMartian on Flickr

For me, books are essential to a full and meaningful life. If you’re like me its all too easy to end up with countless stacks and stacks of books until the clutter gets overwhelming. Since my life is about simplicity and sustainability I have had to figure out a way of dealing with my love for books. So, I personally keep as few books as is reasonable and I use the resources of my community to borrow or purchase my books used.

First, all books are divided into two categories:

Books I want to read I try to get these books at the public library or borrow them from a friend. I almost never buy these books because I know that once I’ve read them I’ll probably never read them again.

Then there are books I want to read again and again. These are books that are so compelling or so essential to who I am that I want them in my library so that I can refer to them regularly. Ted Kooser’s poetry or any of Wendell Berry’s writings qualify under this heading.

These books are purchased almost exclusively from used book sellers. There are a couple of local used bookstores as well as two online sites that search used booksellers catalogs nationally, and even internationally. Check out Alibris and ABE Books. In addition there are some free book swapping services online. Try Bookmooch or BookCrossing to get started.

This helps keep the number of books I have on hand to a minimum. By buying fewer books I save old growth forests (we’re losing the rainforests and the boreal forest of the northern hemisphere at an alarming rate), reduce greenhouse gas emissions (most books today are printed in China and shipped to the United Sates) and I save money.

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Me at Rocky Falls in the Missouri OzarksSo, I find myself at midlife– divorced, father of one son, happily employed in a job I love most days and trying to live fully, simply and sustainably.  Recognizing that I am the architect of my life and that I am responsible for my own happiness, I choose to live a full, meaningful and healthy life.  I hold firm to the belief that the best is yet to come.

I live alone in a small studio apartment in Midtown Kansas City, an eclectic and diverse community near the university campus where I work.  I love all the sights, sounds and smells of this community.  I am continually inspired by the people I encounter in this neighborhood and the friends that I have made here.  It is the best of all possible worlds for me.

I volunteer with a number of state and local agencies through the Missouri Master Naturalist program.  As an amateur naturalist I have been given the opportunity to work  in a number of different areas, including wildlife monitoring and habitat restoration. I consider myself a steward of the earth.

What I hope this blog will do is chronicle my journey through the later half of my life, while providing some insight into the questions, and some of the answers, I encounter along the way.

Whats In My Personal Library?