Reading: Happiness Decoded

Happy Coffee and Book

In the August 2014 issue of Prevention magazine, Kate Lowenstein’s article “Happy on Purpose” presents some interesting ideas on the topic of happiness.

Lowenstein’s article cites psychologist Barbara L. Fredricson’s research on the subject of happiness. Fredricson divides happiness into two categories: Hedonistic and eudaimonic. According to Fredricson, hedonic happiness is “pure pleasure—that delicious but fleeting feeling derived from eating an excellent meal or getting a massage” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69). Eudaimonic is “big-picture, meaningful-life happiness you might get from satisfying work or meditating” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69).

These categories make perfect sense to me as a writer. The type of happiness I experience when I drink a delicious cup of coffee is different than happiness I experience when I write. The feelings from drinking the coffee are fleeting, but the happiness derived from writing lasts. Simply thinking about a story I am working on, or one I have completed, causes a feeling of full-hearted contentment.

In the same issue of Prevention, Susan Ince mentions that hedonistic pleasure can be derived from reading. Ince reports that “just 15 or 20 minutes of reading” can have a positive impact on your emotions (2014, p. 70).

So my two favorite activities—reading and writing—can help maintain the balance of hedonic and eudaimonic happiness that Fredricson believes will help people derive “a bigger positive emotion yield out of everyday events, which in turn feeds our happiness some more” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69).

So what makes you happy? Do you look for hedonistic or eudaimonic happiness? Let me know!


Lowenstein, K. (2014). Happy on purpose. Prevention (8), pp. 67-69.
Ince, S. (2014). Read one of these 55 books. Prevention (8), pp. 70-71.

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On Writing: What I Listen to When Writing

Loreena McKennitt’s adaptation of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” has always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy listening to it when I want to get lost in the world of Camelot and Avalon.

As always, I hope that the music inspires you to write.



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Review of Shannon A. Thompson’s Take Me Tomorrow


Shannon A. Thompson, author of the YA dystopian novel, November Snow, and the Timely Death Trilogy, asked me to review her newest YA novel, Take Me Tomorrow, and I am delighted to do so.

**Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead**

Sophia Gray, the heroine of Take Me Tomorrow, is bold, courageous, smart, and strong. She is thrust into the center of a mystery that encompasses both her friends and family when she encounters an enigmatic young man named Noah near her home. Sophia has to find the truth behind secrets that have been kept for years by those closest to her; she pushes forward, even when there is danger, even knowing that the truth could drastically change her life, because her conscience will not allow her to just walk away.

Take Me Tomorrow is set in a dystopian era, although this is very slowly revealed by the author. The similarities to the present time in North America are evident from the start; the differences are exposed through snatches of imagery, through introspection, and through conversation between the characters until readers are left with a story world that is a frightening vision of a future that could potentially develop from our own society.

When reading Take Me Tomorrow, my thoughts drew comparisons between the current immigration crisis in the United States, where unaccompanied minors are illegally crossing the border in vast numbers fleeing faltering economies, rising crime, and gang activity in their Central American homelands, and the issues faced by Thompson’s characters as they flee similar situations. Obviously Thompson had envisioned and written the novel long before the current immigration crisis occurred; yet the fact that the novel delves into these issues adds one more layer of veracity to the themes in the story.

I enjoyed Take Me Tomorrow quite a bit. Thompson always creates likeable and believable characters in her novels. I particularly like Noah in this story. (I do not want to provide additional details about his character because I feel it would give away too much of the plot. Other readers should have the same opportunity to experience Noah in the same manner that I did—without spoilers.) The story itself is fascinating. Thompson unravels the mystery slowly for her readers; I read it in one sitting (which I planned for in advance) and I found that it kept that sense of suspense until the very end. The resolution, which leaves opportunities for future novels, was satisfying.


Disclaimer: The author provided an advanced copy of Take Me Tomorrow in exchange for a timely and honest review.


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Reading: “Hello? Put Down Your iPhone and Look Up”

This is a very interesting look at the modern, technological world. The poem is written, performed and directed by Gary Turk. The style is reminiscent of a work by Dr. Seuss. Through a love story, viewers/listeners learn a lesson about trading our lives and experiences with people for digital connections. Turk presents the idea that the more we are connected, the more alone we become.

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On Writing: Inspirations from John Green, Author of The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green appeared on Monday night’s episode of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report to talk about his book. What I found particularly interesting in the interview occurred when Green discussed his emotions when writing the novel. You can see a clip of the segment here:

Green acknowledges that he wept over the novel when writing in Starbucks. He had an emotional tie to the characters that developed because of his personal experience with Esther Earl, a cancer patient. The book is dedicated to her memory.

I have never written in a coffee shop; I write in my home office. I do become emotionally attached to most of the characters I create. (I haven’t wept when writing yet, but I also haven’t created a character based on someone I know who died of cancer.) I sometimes hate it when bad things happen to my characters in the story, which is ironic because I am the one putting them in those situations. Yet the story goes where it will.

I would be interesting in learning about how other authors deal with this issue. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

(Disclaimer: I have no association with The Colbert Report or John Green.)

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Celebrate The Beauty of our Country

I hope that you are enjoying this Independence Day with your family and friends! I hope that you also get some time to go and explore the wonderful natural areas our country has to offer. The astonishing beauty of our national landscape is, to me, as spectacular as any fireworks display.

Camera 067

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On Writing: What I Listen to When Writing

Madilyn Bailey covered Lana Del Rey’s song “Young and Beautiful.” I think the words in the song are evocative and the simple treatment Bailey gives this with just the piano playing and her singing adds to the haunting effect of the music.

As always—I hope the music inspires you to write.


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