No Ish in Friendship

What Are Three Happy Words?

Happiness is a personal topic. It's somewhere north of asking about hygiene habits but south of religion or politics. Ask someone what makes them happy, and they’ll have answers.



What is happiness? 

What does it feel like?

And look like?

And is it in our control? 


These are just a few of the questions that my book club and I explored at our recent gathering.


First, let me be more precise. I said book club, which likely suggests toiling over literary themes and the satisfaction of a particular ending or…no. We are not that kind of book club. 


Our club is also not the kind filled with people who gather but haven’t read the book. We’ve all read the book and likely ten others since our last meeting. We’re just generally more interested in each other. We’re friends. 

We have varied lives and interests and philosophies on all sorts of things. Our desire to spend time together is not predicated on seeing everything the same way…but it is firmly based on a fierce respect for each other’s happiness. 


The collective gasp if one of us has been wronged. Tears shed followed by murders plotted if someone or something has messed with one of our kids. Those are common friendship themes explored—whether the book in question obliges or not.


So, it was not one bit of a stretch for me to ask if they’d dive into this somewhat abstract topic when all they wanted to do was pour more wine. I came prepared with scraps of paper and markers. And off we went.

If happiness were an animal, which animal would it be? 


This question was answered with uber speed.

Lab, yellow lab, puppy, sea otter.


Note to self: happiness and animals generally go together.

Three words that describe how happy FEELS…


Now, this where all hell broke loose. Okay, not really but there was a certain level of panic coming from a book club bestie.

“What do you mean how happy feels?” Her look was incredulous. I started giggling as the others stepped in, to give examples of their words. “I was a math major!” she said, as though this explained it all—her aversion to digging in about how happiness felt.  

We had a good laugh as I tried to let my friend off the hook. This exercise was after all voluntary, I reminded her. There were no grades being given, and absolutely nothing at stake.  But she wouldn’t have it. She is a rule follower, by nature. She sputtered before adding her words to the pile.

The final question, by my own estimation, was the hardest. But my happyish focus group did not find it that way.

Do you believe happiness is always within your reach?


Yes, yes, yes, yes-ish (tee-hee).


Score one for decisiveness. 

So, what is the sage wisdom, in this the fledgling stage of my very serious happyish research? 

I’m still gathering data.


BUT I can conclusively state that there’s no ish in friendship—the actual letters are there but they’re in a different order, which may be the point. 


Happiness, for me, feels like...gathering with an eclectic group of friends who show up willing to dig deep and simultaneously scratch the surface of life’s big questions. And it’s a bonus if the book is good too.