Happiness in Every Day Life

Since COVID-19 hit the US and Canada, people have been taking to social media and saying that this virus is a reset. A reset of the economy, a reset of travel, a reset of how we treat one another, and a reset of pretty much everything.

Last week I was feeling pretty depressed. Since starting the Happiness Box Project in 2016, day trips on weekends and a few trips became the norm. I was worried that without being able to travel anymore, my Happiness Box would suffer.  Only time will tell if that’s the case, but so far I think I was being too dramatic.

Since we had a Leap Day last month, starting on 1 March 2020, we now have the same days as 2015. I’m a calendar person and I remember dates well (I guess that’s why I love history so much and started as a history major – fun fact: 2015 had the same dates as 2009). With the downtime, I’ve been looking at old pictures, especially ones from 2015.

2015 was an interesting year. I was already one year out of school and had my 10 hour a week library job. I needed a full-time job badly. Up until I went to the Senior Center on 16 April 2015, I was floundering. I used to go with Nan all the time and the Senior Center remembered me. I saw Harlese six months earlier and told her my struggles of finding work. I was shopping at Wegmans in October 2014, I ran into her and she asked me how I was. After our conversation, she told me to stop by the senior center some time and visit.

I decided to go on that day and visit. I don’t know why I decided to go on that day, it was a Thursday and BINGO day. Nan used to love BINGO, as did my great grandma. I figured, most of the people I know would be there and I wanted to visit. I hadn’t been to the Senior Center since 2011 and I wanted to visit.

Harlese and Mary, the President at the time, were shocked to see me when I walked in. They were shocked and elated; it had been way too long. Harlese asked me how I was, asked how the job hunt was going and I told her. Harlese and Mary went into the back, discussed some things, came out and said, “since so and so is having to care for her ill mother, how would you like to work here?” I agreed and I became a contract worker for the UM Senior Center on 20 April 2015.

That was the best four months of my life. I helped with the newsletter, helped with the activities, took photos of the activities for the newsletter, made new friends with the seniors, and it felt great to have a job. I helped recruit a member. She was unsure if she wanted to join, but her son wanted her to get out of the house. Mary knew I have the penchant of making friends out of strangers, so I was partnered with Mrs. Maskomovitch (I graduated high school with her grandson) and we became friends. She loved hanging out with me during events, but not only that, she loved how friendly and welcoming I was. She felt more comfortable with joining and joined with an open heart.

My contract ended on 24 August 2015. I got a two week job at the county that October, but it was an election year and I think it was a case of sour grapes, they let me go because I was “too creative.” I started my current full-time job on 30 November 2015 and here I am, almost five years later.

I only took a day trip to NYC in 2015. I went on 3 July 2015, to celebrate my 26th birthday a day early. Even though I didn’t take any overnight trips in 2015, I savoured that day in NYC. That was the best way to welcome in 26, even if it was a day early.

I did a lot in Philadelphia and became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Selfies with Strangers started in May 2015. I had fun meeting people around the city and have many pictures to prove it. I met two gay guys in Rittenhouse Square and they agreed to a photoshoot with me; we used my DSLR camera. I remember the laughter that day.

I also spent a lot of time with friends. Marsha, Liz visited from Alaska on 23 March 2015 and that was my first time seeing her since 2010. I also spent time with Claire, Dave visited from Staten Island and we saw the Phillies/Mets, but I mostly spent time with Marsha and Claire. Not much has changed on that front. Claire also took me to my first Orchestra in October 2015.

Oh yeah, this was the year I made my foray into ice skating. I went to the Rothman Rink on 13 November 2015. I didn’t do too well, was too nervous and didn’t go back for another year. In 2016, I learned about the RiverRink and that I could get free admission since I have their insurance. These are fun photos from 13 November 2015. Look how far I’ve come since then!

Looking back, that was one of the best years of my life. This was before I started the Happiness Box, but maybe I’ll make an album, as the precursor to the Happiness Jar, which was the precursor of the Happiness Box.

We make our own happiness and anything can bring us joy. We don’t have to be fancy or a globetrotter to be happy or joyful, in fact, if we do that all the time… that’s exhausting. I’m an introvert and being on the move 24/7 is draining. Joy can be found in simple moments shared with family, friends, and others. Kindness and community are some examples too.

Although, COVID-19 is scary, we will get through this and in this time, we will build our gratitude, joy, and socializing with others in new ways. We are one community and we will get through this crisis.

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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “Happiness in Every Day Life”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    I’ve been reading reminders of how the American people became united immediately following the 9-11 terror attacks. I hope the upside of the COVID outbreak is the reset effect you described, and we see a return to a kinder, gentler America.

    It’s interesting how the days and dates of various years align. It was a fun and useful exercise for you to go back to “sister year” 2015 and relive the high points of what you consider to be one of the best years of your life. I was following you at the time and I remember most of these highlights, especially Rittenhouse Square and your meet-ups with Marsha and Claire. Harlese & Mary of the UM Senior Center had good instincts about you. They knew you are a great people person and that you would work well with the elderly. You mesh well with people of all ages, races, religions and nationalities.

    You have indeed come a long way in your skating ability since 2015. I remember you using the walker for quite a while before you could stand and skate on your own, and these last couple of winters you have become so skilled that you teach others the art of skating.

    I hope you make much more happiness in the coming week and do your best to protect yourself from the contagious virus. Take care, dear friend JM!


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