“Quiet moments of contentment that add up to a life worth living. I call it the ‘good stuff,’ which we’re inclined to dismiss because it’s often so ordinary. Yet they are preserved in our memory, waiting to be recovered and reclaimed.” [Happiness interruptus, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, Dec. 27]

It’s not often that joy and happiness are so perfectly described, as was done in “Happiness interruptus.” As a reflective person by nature, I find myself revisiting memories and experiences that have enriched my life. This year has been transformative to say the least, as a major career change yanked me from my comfort zone in Nashville, Tennessee to an entirely new life in Oak Park. 

In doing so, I have experienced moments of contentment, joy, understanding and true happiness. I believe this shift is the result of intentionally holding firm to that which brings me peace.

You have described our tendency to overlook the everyday beauty of our lives, as it truly is often eclipsed by busyness and negativity. I love the way you urge us to reach within and bring to light the memories that make us feel whole. We certainly can all agree that 2017 brought its own challenges and uphill battles, but the moments of contentment you describe truly can overpower the “default negativity.”

This truth has never been more clear than it is now that I have the privilege to work in a local psychiatric facility — Riveredge Hospital in Forest Park. Each day, patients walk through our doors, often carrying the heavy load of unimaginable trauma and stigma, yet there is always beauty in recovery and hope. 

As you have shared, “If we pay attention, we begin to notice how often happiness sidles up to us, offering to overpower our misery, resentment, worry, disappointment.” 

I wholeheartedly agree that embracing the good takes practice and conditioning. I would be naïve to believe it does not come with pain — but to know that you have the choice to keep your eyes fixed on that which brings us joy is truly beautiful and life-changing.

Thank you for sharing.

Allison Ray

Oak Park

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