This is a warning. You may want to look away now. I may lapse into a heartwarming story, something I generally don’t approve of. This time I just can’t help it. I was reading the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and there was an article on a man who is being evicted from his tree house. This is his hand-built, custom-crafted tree house, which is on a public lot. The powers that be feel it’s a hazard.
Here comes the heartwarming part. He’s lived there for quite a while now, and the neighborhood likes him. Hearing of the eviction, they took up a collection to buy him an RV of his very own. When the people who owned the RV came to deliver the purchase, they saw what was going on and changed the price to one penny.
Why am I telling you this? I guess the story really struck me today because of all the sad news I’ve been reading. I’m still job hunting, and it gets dispiriting. It’s easy to notice all the reports of people who don’t care, of employers who fire their permanent help to hire temps. It’s easy to get bogged down in distressing details. I’m happy to see a story about people helping someone just because they can, because they feel it’s the right thing to do. I like knowing that someone out there cares for their fellow man. I want to spread the word.
I don’t want to pay attention to the sad stories. There are so many stories out there, and it’s too easy to focus on the ones that agree with whatever mood arises in each moment. Once I notice these disgruntled accounts, it’s easy to see them as proof to support my bad mood. I believe this also works backwards. I believe that if I focus on the happy stories, my mood will follow my attention into joy. That’s why I’m spreading the word about Squirrelman, the nickname of the man with the tree house. I want us all to get closer to joy. Pass it on.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
74. Seek out a happy story in the news or elsewhere, and tell it to someone else. How did it feel to share something cheerful? Was it a different feeling than you get when telling sad stories?