so many beautiful reasons to be happy — a challenge for International Day of Happiness!

March 18, 2016 | 7 comments

As you know, we’ve spent a lot of time at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, over the last few months. Dad had an infection in his leg, and later had his leg partially amputated. It has been a hard start to 2016.

You, dear friends, have been so generous in prayer and kindness toward us. I could hardly keep up with the emails. What a blessing! You sent Dad cards by the dozens; one of you even mailed handmade prayer shawls. I’ve broken down in tears over all the kindness!

In the midst of our valley, you gave us so many beautiful reasons to be happy.

We’ve felt the same way about the people in Rochester. Have you ever been there? I have never before encountered a culture of helping and generosity quite like that one. Bringing joy to people is built into the community’s collective mindset. It’s not just the medical staff. It’s the waitresses, valet drivers, hotel receptionists, and convenience store clerks. I can’t say if all of those folks know about Jesus — but they sure remind me of Him.

Case in point: One night in Rochester, a thick snow fell. Next morning, I went to the hotel parking lot to get my car, knowing it would be covered in snow. But it wasn’t. Someone had already scraped my windshield and broomed the snow off my car. I looked around and saw that every other car in the lot had also been cleaned off. I found the guy with his broom across the lot, clearing even more cars. I drove over, and thanked him — grateful again for the culture of servanthood.

Again, in the midst of our valley, we were given so many beautiful reasons to be happy.

It’s shocking, really, how a person can find so much happiness in that town. Think about it: Everywhere you look, someone is fighting an unseen battle. Everyone is looking for answers. So many are holding on to their last shred of hope.

But there’s a culture of joy running as a strong undercurrent everywhere you turn.

We have much to learn about happiness and joy from the people of Rochester, Minnesota.

A Challenge for Us All

What if we applied what I’ll call the “Mayo Culture of Kindness and Happiness?” What if went out of our way to make others happy by being kind? What if we decided to make 2016 the happiest year yet?

Sunday is the 4th International Day of Happiness, founded by the United Nations General Assembly. This is the perfect time to spread the contagious virtue of happiness. It’s the perfect time to join #TheHappinessDare. Some of you have already joined me in #TheHappinessDare. You’ve been hunting for happiness in your everyday lives. You’ve been sending me emails about where you’ve found happiness in unexpected places. You’ve catalogued so much goodness as a part of #TheHappinessDare on Instagram and Facebook. Your happiness has increased MY happiness!

But we don’t need a perfect day to get happier. All we need is a heart that is committed to finding the good, even on the hard days. During my own Happiness Dare, I have read a lot about the durability of happiness, and how we can find it — and keep it — even when life is hard.

Some of the greatest determinants of happiness are:

• Showing gratitude
• Engaging in the activities that you most enjoy
• Banishing comparison
• Committing acts of kindness
• Offering forgiveness
• Nurturing friendships
• Savoring “the little things”
• Practicing self-care
• Intentionally scanning for the good, even when life is hard
• Going out of your way to bring happiness to someone else
• Taking the time to nurture your faith

Let’s try something. For the next seven days, let’s intentionally choose to do something from that list. Choose to let the dishes sit in the sink, while you watch that show you’ve been dying to see. Find a way to forgive someone who has hurt you. Let someone pray for you. Carve out time to see an old friend. Leave an anonymous gift on the doorstep of someone who could use a boost. Go caroling in March! Schedule the massage. Look for the helpers, and if you can, be a helper, too. Apply the Mayo Culture of Kindness and Happiness wherever you live.

Look, I totally get how “choosing joy” and happiness can seem like really hard work. But what I learned at Mayo was this: when we weren’t able to find happiness on our own, it seemed like someone was gently bringing it to us.

One of my favorite moments of the year happened in a Mayo lobby. I came out of the elevator, and heard two guys singing at the piano. When I got closer, I could hear the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” Their song literally stopped people in their tracks. We made a giant ring around the piano, and we all stood still, on account of a song. There were people in wheelchairs, doctors wearing white coats. There were patients with bandanas on their heads, and women wearing burqas. They all were fighting an unseen battle. But they were all singing. (Find the video here.)

 That day, most of us couldn’t sing on our own own. But someone else brought us a song.

On my worst days, I will look for the singers. And on my best days, I will help bring the song.

There really are so many beautiful reasons to be happy. I am committed to looking for them.


Are you in? For the next seven days, commit to at least one of the above Happiness Boosters. Let us join you in your song by using the tag #TheHappinessDare. Or simply email me and let me know how your own Happiness Dare is going. You can reach me at [email protected]. I will do my best to answer all of your emails!

Love, Jennifer

Here’s some of the latest goodness from #TheHappinessDare stream.

Let’s keeping add more, while celebrating the International Day of Happiness. Let’s make our happiness contagious!

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by | March 18, 2016 | 7 comments


  1. Sue Peterson

    Love this idea. My DD had a heart transplant at 6 months. She is now 7 yo and we spend quite a bit of time at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford. I feel the same way about that place as you feel about the Mayo Clinic. Although we haven’t had 100% positive experiences there (an impossibility with how much time we spend and for the reasons we are there), I would say that the overwhelming culture is one of accommodation and service. And I love the idea of “Mayo Culture of Kindness and Happiness”! Such an oxymoron, but one that is so palatable to me with our experience at Packard. Thanks for sharing. We just found out my DD will have to have another heart surgery at the end of April (much simpler – just a pacemaker placement, but another week or so in the hospital for her and more scars – both physical and emotional, I’m sure) and doing this will be helpful in the coming week.

  2. Pam Ecrement

    What a great suggestion!! I love the Mayo Clinic testimony of serving, grace, love, etc. My youngest grandson needed to go through 8 surgeries at the Cleveland Clinic beginning when he was nine months old and we found some similar evidences of serving, grace, etc. I am going to seek to accept your seven day challenge!

  3. Jerri Miller

    Thank you! I needed reminding.

    Love your lines: “There really are so many beautiful reasons to be happy. I am committed to looking for them.”

    I agree and I am, too. ~ Jerralea

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jennifer, this post is so timely, because I had literally just thought about posting to FB about happiness! It’s an amazing synchronicityI will just forward your link a little later today. I’ve been praying for you and your Daddy, and I just keep seeing his smile, and his determination to be happy in the midst of a difficult trial. He is a godsend to so many, and you, too, as you have so faithfully cared for him and told us his story. My father, in many ways the light of my life, could be so jovial and tons of fun, and yet he was also plagued by depression, mostly in his later years–likely in large part due to very painful (and multiple) serious health conditions that went on for fifteen years. He suffered more than anyone I know, so his depression was totally understandable (and still, at times, he could laugh and sing–literally–in the midst of it). I, too, have been prone to depression for much of my life, so I greatly empathize with those who suffer it; still, I know that God longs for our happiness. And yes, there are ways to cultivate it. So while depression can be serious and not to be overlooked, I do think we should ask God’s help to be happy. He wants our happiness. And I think one of the greatest sources of our happiness is to realize how much God loves us, to realize He sent Jesus to be one of us, to suffer and die for our sin, and to save us, to be raised from the dead, and to assure that we will spend eternity with Him. Considering all that, Christians’ happiness should really know no bounds. Turning a corner, I LOVE MAYO. I’ve been a patient there twice, and on my last visit, a little over a year ago, I had the privilege of singing at that piano which you describe and picture. Amazingly, the accompanist knew many, many hymns and Gospel songs, and while we also performed Broadway show tunes, we predominately shared the love of Christ through songs that breathed Gospel. An alto joined me, and we harmonized our joy in the Lord probably for an hour. I was shocked when my husband, at one point, extended his finger to the balcony, and the other singer and I witnessed a host of listeners–maybe forty or more–that we had not realized were there. We had no idea! There was just a holy hush as everyone listened to our voices spiraling upward. Somehow it reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on (though they were quiet 🙂 ), as we live here on earth through some tough trials. Anyway, I’m really rambling, AS I USUALLY DO!!!, but your dad’s joyful attitude and yours, your challenge to be happy in the Lord (now and in so many of your uplifting posts), your mentioning Mayo and the joy they bring to so many hurting people. . . I don’t know . . . . all of this just makes me really happy right now, and I couldn’t help but bubble over. Love you so much, Jennifer!!!!

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    I say a big AMEN to your little statement: “Look for the singers.” That reinforces one of the “Determinants for Happiness” from your list: Scan for the good. From that step, it would be quite easy to take four more steps: #2: Show gratitude. Thank the “singer” for the happiness they’ve brought. #3: Expound a bit beyond just, “thank you,” and engage in the enjoyable activity of encouragement. For example: “You’ve made my day!” or “You are so kind and thoughtful.” Watch the recipient’s face light up! (It’s fun!) #4 goes hand-in-hand with #3: Graciously appreciate a kindness (which is surely another form of kindness), and #5: Savor the favor in a gratitude or blessings journal. It all starts with the very pleasant exercise of looking for the singers. Thank you, Jennifer, for a delightful post. I’m happier for reading it!

  6. karen

    I love this SO much and it certainly made me smile!!!! THANKS!

  7. Meghan Weyerbacher

    Love this!!!! I posted today about scanning the beauty all around even in the midst of uncertainties, distraction or undesired circumstances. It is there if we will look! Thank you for sharing Jennifer!


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