When I was 13 my family moved from the suburbs to a small farm about an hour outside Los Angeles.  We got animals — goats for milk, chickens for eggs, steers, pigs, lambs for meat.  We planted a large garden and orchard — every kind of vegetable and fruit you can imagine (including a few you have probably never heard of).

But my father (being a practical man) decided that if you couldn’t eat it (animal or vegetable), he wouldn’t have it.  He tolerated the cats because they caught mice.  When my mother got a dog, he would try to run over it in the driveway every time we left the house in the car.  Forget even asking about a horse, though every other kid in the neighborhood had one and having friends meant going riding after school.  Of course, that also meant no flowers.

From my father’s point of view, we didn’t need any of this stuff — it was just a waste of resources.  And strictly speaking, we didn’t need it.  At least, not for physical survival.

But let’s talk about soul survival.

We have needs, and we have wants.  Technically, we don’t need the wants, but we do want.  Wanting is an integral part of our human nature.  So why do we want the wants?

To quote my favorite line from the Book of Mormon: Adam [and presumably, Eve] fell that men [and presumably women] might be, and men [and yes, women too] are that they might have joy.

We exist not just to survive.  We exist to be happy. 

Abraham Maslow, in 1943, proposed that human beings have a “hierarchy of needs” that starts with physiological survival and peaks at self-actualization.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs)  Once our basic survival needs are met, we want, because wanting is our soul’s road map to happiness.

This is not to say that we don’t occasionally (even frequently) stray — or get bumped — off course.  And it has to be acknowledged that there are a lot of factors out there that try to manipulate us into wanting what doesn’t necessarily make us happy. 

But have you noticed that often it’s the things that we want, more than the things that we need, that motivate us to create beauty (like quilts) or make some sort of change for the better in our lives?  When there’s something we really want, we find a way to have what we need to survive and what we want to be happy.

(And have noticed that you can be sad about some things in life, while you are happy about others?  But that’s a topic for another day.) 

So here are some things that I want (but don’t need) that make me happy today.  (Dad, sorry, but you can take your “practicality” and stuff it.)

paperwhites smallFlowers.  One thing I love about living in New York City is that practically every deli on every corner sells fresh flowers.  I keep them in the house all the time.  Yesterday, just as the last golden leaves fell from my tree, the first of my paperwhite bulbs bloomed, and that made me happy.


MorganMorgan.  Smart as a whip, and with a subtle, goofy sense of humor.  Not to mention the fact that for the past almost-14 years she has been my personal trainer, therapist and most constant companion.  She has brought me more smiles and laughter than any one single person in my life.


Chocolate ice cream for dinner.  Last night.  A lot of it.  I realized I may have wandered off the road to happiness just a bit when I developed a stomach ache from eating too much.  But this is a rare occurrence in my life and I’m happy that my scale this morning says no permanent damage has been done.

Enjoy your day!