Week 2: Happiness is the appreciation of things you have in life.

Durhamism #1081: “Never blame anyone in your life. The good people give you happiness. The bad people give you experience. The worst people give you a lesson. The best people give you memories. (amen!!!)” – John Durham

I think a lot about whom I will interview for this blog. Sometimes I want someone who I know well – so it would be easier for me to understand his view about happiness and do the write-up; while sometimes I think it would be much more interesting to get out of my comfort zone and get to know a completely new perspective of someone I don’t know.

Last week, it was totally unexpected to talk to Frederic. It is never easy for me to start a conversation with a stranger with the most random reason I could ever have: “Can I ask you few questions about happiness?” But once that question was out – probably because it couldn’t be any more awkward than asking it, things became much easier.  It turned out that talking to Frederic about happiness was the most exciting thing I did on that day.

In fact, there have been researches about positive experience of talking to strangers; there are also good articles about the same topic (“Hello, stranger” on The New York Times is one). So – if you have a dull day – talk to a stranger, it may brighten you up a little bit 🙂

I’ve been thinking and observing more about happiness over the last week. For this week’s entry, I was very happy to talk to John Durham – my Professor at Hult. Although the course I had with him was short, the stories he shared in class, his posts, and his thousand-something “Durhamism” on Facebook demonstrate an optimistic spirit that I admire. For that, I knew I wanted to know what he thinks about happiness. And as helpful as he has always been, he invited me to his office where again – I get to listen to new stories about happiness.

What is happiness to you?

I used to think about it a lot. I think happiness is what you enjoy doing; how you spend your day; what kind of people you associate with – both in work and in your personal life; the experience you have and how you think about all the things that you do and the people surround you; places you’ve been to and places you want to visit.

My happiness is: number one, waking up every morning knowing that I am healthy. That means I care about my health and try to be healthy. Number two: doing something good everyday. I want to smile everyday. I think if you dont smile, if you go to bed without a smile, your heart hurts. That means I care about smiling once or twice. I want to laugh once or twice a day. Some days I want to cry; sometimes I cry for happiness, sometimes for sadness.


I don’t believe you can be happy until you experience some negative things to appreciate what you do have. Happiness is the appreciation of things you have in life and I do.

When I die I want people to say: He was a good person, he was fun to be around, he shared his thoughts, ideas and believes, he cared about people and he gave only good. That would be a very happy tombstone.

Each of us defines happiness in a variety of different ways. For some, happiness is lots of money, lots of things, lots of comfort – everybody wants that, we all do. For some, happiness is more intangible: to be in love, to have great kids, to change the world. For some, happiness is just go to work, make money, do what they want to do, come home, go to bed and wake up.

As for me, I can only control what I can control, I have to work within the society and environment which I am in, in the field that I’ve chosen, so I have to learn to bring my vision, reality, happiness into that environment. I get happy when my clients are happy, or when my employees are happy. I figure that if I am happy and believe in what I do, my enthusiasm and happiness will be also be shared by other people.

What has been the happiest moment in your life so far?

I think there is a bit of happiness every day in my life, some days are happier than others. My happiest moments are the day I got married, the day I decided to come to California, the day I decided to teach, the day I decided to start new businesses again. But the best of all is the birth of my children.

What makes you happy today? 

Talking with you – this is good because you make me think about putting a smile on my face. I’ve had a good day with clients, a great day at work with my team – I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot. I am going to have a haircut in a little while – that makes me feel good. I am going to teach tonight – that’s always exciting. The Giants are playing at the World Series – that’s fun! My favorite sport teams are doing well. I can still see, I can still hear, I can still smell. Right now I am in a very happy state!


You have a lot of Durhamism, I follow them on your Facebook and I “like” many of them. What is your Durhamism for today?

My Durhamism! That’s actually happiness for me; they help me think. My friends appreciate them and they thank me. As you read them, you can tell that some days I am happy, some days I am depressed, and they give me some perspectives. And today’s Durhamism is “Our lives aren’t just measured in years, they are measured by the lives we touch around us.”

If you are to give one advice to other people to be happy, what would that be?

Appreciate every moment, everything, everybody, every day. When you do – it is breathtaking; you can never capture it again.

I walked out of John’s office, feeling content as I listened to the record of the interview with him on my way back home. I will save the debrief on our conversation for the next blog entry. As to end this one, I will use my favorite line by John: “Go the extra mile, it is never crowded.”


9 thoughts on “Week 2: Happiness is the appreciation of things you have in life.

  1. When people ask me what I want to be, I always answer: I want to be happy :).

    Some people will think that’s silly while I think it’s hard work. I think this post made me realized that I am not that crazy and what we all look in life is to be happy. For my experience I just can say that a key point to find happiness it is not having all we want, but making the best in everything we have.

    Want to read more about this 🙂


    1. Katy: what you said reminded me of John Lenon’s famous quote: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

      Happiness is different for different people, it is always very personal. I am glad that this week entry excited you a little bit. I hope to bring you more in the next one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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