Want To Find Happiness? Pay Attention To The Kids


I have found the cure for sadness. This is monumental, because many, many people are chronically sad. A cure might have been found earlier, but most governments prefer to spend their money on the purchase of weapons rather than the study of the human brain — a choice with deadly results, but I digress.

The cure I discovered is energy.

I can hear you snickering now. “Oh, Einstein,” you are saying, “Please tell us more. Like, where can I get this wonderful thing? How do I purchase E = mc2? Does it come in a bottle? Does CVS carry it? Is it cheaper at Walmart? Does Costco have it in bulk?”

Not so fast, ye of little faith. There’s a no-cost solution. All you need to do is observe a child in action. And, no, I am not talking about hanging around the local park, in the shadows. I am talking about really noticing the annoying little critters in the grocery store, at the mall, anytime you’re out and about.

They’re easily spotted because they’re noisy, bouncy, unruly and fast, with their exhausted parents usually trying in vain to rein them in. That is exuberance. That is joie de vivre. That is getting so excited that you’ve seen a caterpillar that you almost wet your pants.

And it’s contagious.

I got a super dose of it last weekend when my grandson Skippy turned seven. Skippy’s problem is that he is the smallest, skinniest and youngest one in his class. So finally being able to celebrate his seventh birthday was monumental.

And his mother Jen went all out. Skippy had chosen a Minecraft theme for his party. In case you are unfamiliar, Minecraft is an interactive video game where everything is made out of cubes, even the characters. (The Lego people are having a field day creating products around this.)

So Jen erected a very square castle, stacked painted cardboard cubes around the yard and conjured up a cubist cake. When Skippy first saw everything, he yelled, “This is perfect!”

Jen’s day was made.

Of course, Skippy was the one who got to jump on the trampoline first, mine for “jewels” first and throw the first water balloon. He also was the one who got to shove the Mentos into the cola bottles, causing the Minecraft “TNT” to explode.

When he was finally allowed to open his presents, I swear there was a static charge in the air. Forty children clustered around one birthday boy evidently creates some sort of electrical grid.

At last the day was done. By the time the last gift was opened and the last guest had gone, Skippy was winding down. In a quiet moment, his parents brought out a single last surprise — the one toy he had been pining for most. (I can’t tell you what it was; I was busy soaking up the pure joy on his face.)

“It’s like all my dreams have come true,” he marveled.

He didn’t mean it as a cliché. He meant it as pure truth. Witness that and it is very hard to be sad.