A Special Thank You by kristinmarting
September 7, 2011, 1:04 pm
Filed under: American Dream, Community, Happiness, Honor, Hope, Uncategorized

We are are extremely grateful for the generous support of the following people:

Anonymous, Alexandra Beller, Jamie L. Bennett , Richard Brundage, Nicole Burman, David Cote, Rima Fand, Gia Forakis, Vanessa Gilbert, Sally & Fred Harris, Rachel Jendrzejewski, David Koren, Dominik Landowne, Leeda Marting, Donna Roseman, Lake Simons, Carl Skutsch, Kathleen Turco-Lyon.

Lush Valley March Workshop: Monday 3/14 by kristinmarting
March 16, 2011, 6:56 pm
Filed under: American Dream, Events, Happiness, Opportunity, Research

During rehearsal today we continued to look at freedom of religion, and we discussed the idea that surfaces in much of our religious research – religious tolerance. Tal brought up that the ideal would be for religions to respect other religions, and that religious tolerance is just guaranteeing the smallest possible amount of respect for other religion. We also discussed the varying degrees of practicing a religion, with daily, weekly, and seasonal practices along with a basic morality.

We then began working on the second phase of the American Dream, which explores the freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence, “the charter of the American Dream.”  The tenets that we are focusing on for this section of the work are HAPPINESS and OPPORTUNITY.  We read the Declaration, and then the actors worked with an exercise Yana created. She broke the phrases of the Declaration into three everyday situations – declarations a child would make to a mother as they leave home, declarations a wronged lover would make while breaking up with her partner, and declarations an employee would make to their boss when quitting. We then expanded the exercise so that each of the actors wrote personal declarations of independence for their characters – these ended up being extremely well-written, and often hilarious.

While the actors were writing these, the rest of the group researched the Boston Tea Party, Naomi Klein’s book No Logo, and modern displays of social activism including Reverend Billy and the Shop of Stop Shopping, Billionares for Bush, Anonymous, The Yes Men, Registered Trademark, and Next Five Minutes. This research was geared toward an exercise in which the Lush Valley characters will create their own piece of creative activism about a subject the Immigration Officers can reach consensus on.

Really exciting to investigate themes as large as independence and religion both broadly and very personally. But Will It Make You Happy? by kristinmarting
August 9, 2010, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Happiness | Tags: ,
The New York Times
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BUSINESS | August 08, 2010

But Will It Make You Happy?
How you spend has a greater effect on your happiness than how much you spend, researchers say.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy

Happiness by yanaland
June 24, 2010, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Happiness | Tags: ,

This post connects to the joy of participation and a parade ( that is a pleasure to create.

May 25, 2010, Happiness

In Which I Go to a Dance Parade and Reflect on Happiness.

Dancing in the streets!
Published on May 25, 2010

This Saturday, my husband suggested that we all go downtown to watch the annual dance parade. I’d never heard of it, but for the past three years, New York City has had a dance parade, where thousand of dancers, from all sorts of dance organizations, dance their way down a parade route. Some of the dancers were from “real” dance schools or groups, others were from dance/exercise classes, and many groups, we suspected, had been organized for the sole purpose of marching on Saturday.

This outing turned out to be tremendously fun. We found a place where we could perch on a high railing, so we had a good view and a place to sit. The weather was lovely. And the dancers were more fun to watch than practically any parade I’ve ever seen.

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire by kristinmarting
June 20, 2010, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Community, Happiness | Tags:

Take a quick questionnaire here and find out your happiness score.

Happiness Links by kristinmarting
June 16, 2010, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Happiness

Some happiness links courtesy of the CEO of Zappos who has written this new book. Click here.

Happy at Coney Island by talyarden
May 3, 2010, 1:39 am
Filed under: Happiness | Tags: ,


Thomas Jefferson’s Pursuit by talyarden
May 1, 2010, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Happiness, Narrative | Tags: ,

The Giver of life gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1782. ME 4:196, Papers 6:186

“If [God] has made it a law in the nature of man to pursue his own happiness, He has left him free in the choice of place as well as mode, and we may safely call on the whole body of English jurists to produce the map on which nature has traced for each individual the geographical line which she forbids him to cross in pursuit of happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Manners, 1817. ME 15:124

“Perfect happiness, I believe, was never intended by the Deity to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I as steadfastly believe.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Page, 1763. ME 4:10, Papers 1:10

“The freedom and happiness of man… [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810. ME 12:369

“[It is a] great truth that industry, commerce and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of [a] people.” –Thomas Jefferson to Francisco Chiappe, 1789. Papers 15:405

“The only orthodox object of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. van der Kemp, 1812. ME 13:135

“I sincerely pray that all the members of the human family may, in the time prescribed by the Father of us all, find themselves securely established in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Ellicot Thomas, et al., 1807. ME 16:290

posted by Tal

Happy Thoughts by talyarden
April 24, 2010, 10:34 am
Filed under: Happiness | Tags: ,

“Love is the seed of happiness.” from the Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazali (1058–1111), a Muslim Sufi thinker.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 B.C.E., Aristotle says that happiness is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake. He observes that people want riches, honor, health, etc. not only for their own sake but so that they can be happy. He says that eudaimonia, the greek word for “happiness”, is an activity rather than an emotion or a state of being.

“Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.” William Bennett (former Drug Czar under the first President Bush).  This fits in with something that ethicists call the Pleasure Paradox – see or

“We were not hoping for happiness – And yet we were not prepared for unhappiness.” from Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate.

So it seems like the pursuit of happiness, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as one of our unalienable rights, may be an oxymoron.  It’s there because Jefferson and Franklin thought it better and more noble than the pursuit of property.  The pursuit of happiness wasn’t meant to be a selfish act but rather the pursuit of happiness for the greater community, for society as a whole.  But if happiness can’t be had by pursuing it according to the Pleasure Paradox then how do we achieve it?  Are we suppose to pursue wealth, security, health instead because they may lead us to happiness?It seems like that may not work either.  The paradox suggests that it’s the act of pursuit that is the problem, that we can gain happiness through the most prosaic activities in life.  Perhaps through self-less action.

Posted by Tal Yarden