Happiness Group Guide

Volume VIII, Number IV

Artwork by Fajr Alam

Well-being and wisdom, mindfulness and care — these are the themes that have emerged as we dig into this summer’s fertile topic, Happiness. In this issue, you’ll discover a veritable kaleidoscope of pieces by young people from around the world, exploring the many facets of this state of being. Writers consider emotions, service, and much more.

1.  In this issue’s Big Question, “Does Happiness Have a Different Meaning to Each of Us?,” Grace Luckett frames the question around summer camp, which also happens to be where her ideas about happiness were challenged. She posits that while everyone feels the same unifying “raw emotion,” we each filter and come to understand universal emotions through our varied life experiences. Grace once thought that eating brings everyone joy, but at camp she learns this is not the case; she realizes there are many paths to the same place. What makes you happy? Brainstorm a list of 20 things. What do you notice about your list? Do you think these things are similar or different from those that make your friends happy? If so, how?

2.  What does mindfulness have to do with happiness and what is it, anyway? In Olivia Bailey’s Awesome Moments piece, “Yellow: The Feeling of Mindfulness,” she describes her experiences with practicing mindfulness meditation. She uses a range of metaphors to recreate the feeling of the practice, likening it to being in the eye of a hurricane, a child without a care in the world, and finally, to the subjective world of colors. Olivia points to research that says the act of paying nonjudgmental attention to the present moment makes people happier. Visit the website Olivia suggests ( and try one of their 10-minute exercises. How did you feel before and after? What did you find challenging about the exercise? How might you incorporate these techniques into your everyday life?

3.  In “Double Happiness: Wisdom from Two Buddhist Teachers,” Dr. Matthieu Ricard and Sylvia Boorstein share their deep understanding of the topic. Boorstein writes that “paying close attention reveals the truth that all human beings share the fundamental wish to feel safe and secure and to care for and celebrate one’s kin and community.” Ricard finds that happiness is “well-being and wisdom at all moments, accompanied by love for every being.” How do you care for your own well-being? How do you celebrate your loved ones and community? Are there more ways you might tend to these aspects of your life? Read “Double Happiness” with a friend and reflect on your views of happiness together.