Habits of Happiness


Sunday surprise. Last week I mentioned that Rick Warren of Saddleback started his new series the Habits of Happiness. There were some points that I wrote I don’t do any of, and a few of you asked what those were, so I figured I’d share.

Laws of Happiness

To start, Warren said there are five laws of happiness to remember as he breaks down the series:

  • Don’t look for happiness, create it.
  • Happiness is not a goal.
  • Habits create happiness.
  • Happiness based on habits is long-lasting, where happiness based on happenings is short term.
  • Happy habits are just as addicting as bad habits.

Growing Healthy Relationships

Last week he focused on growing healthy relationships and identified four ways to do that. The idea here is that because relationships are so important to our lives, creating habits that result in positive relationships goes a long way towards being happy.

  1. Be grateful for the people in your life.
  2. Pray with joy for the people in your life.
  3. Expect the best from people in your life.
  4. Love the people in your life like Jesus does.

And finally, Warren provided several hints towards happiness:

  • Remember the best and forget the rest (develop selective memory, don’t well on negatives)
  • The quickest way to change a bad relationship to good is to start praying for the other person(s). Pray that they will grow in love, make wise choices, live with integrity and will become like Jesus.
  • Celebrate how far people have come rather than judging how far they still have to go.

I do like, two of these. I dunno. Just a random guesstimate. The point I’m pretty passive when it comes to controlling my happiness. I rely on others to make me happy. I let on circumstances to make me happy, or unhappy. I wait for good fortune to make me happy. To create your own happiness, to actively try to create positive relationships and not bitch about the people in your life you feel are doing you wrong is something I’ve never done. But I need to. I sit on my hands too often and wait for the universe to be good to me. Obviously, that’s not happening. It’s time to create.

Xmas Wish List Begins and My First Trojan – How Was Your Weekend?


My wife was scheduled to return to work following some time off, but the NICU count is low now and the hospital is overstaffed, so she got the night off. Dinner transformed from likely peanut butter and jelly to “Let’s go to dinner!” We ended up at Claim Jumper for the first time outside of a Happy Hour in a while. Gray dug the checker board table.


Then we stopped by Costco to grab some supplies. Crammed for time, my wife hustled through aisles on a search while I strolled through the toy section with the twins. Triggered by the Christmas decorations already out, Gray started his wish list.

“I want that,” he said, pointing at a box of cars. “And that. And that. And that and that andthatandthatandthatandthatandthat.” He wanted it all.


I snapped photos on my phone as Ellie joined in our creating her wish list as well. She’s intrigued by Doc McStuffins. I’m still trying to figure out what the heck it is.


At dinner Friday my buddy Sam called and invited me to the USC football game. My wonderful wife put a call into her mom who awesomely agreed to watch the kids (thanks sooooo much, Judy!). For a noon game, I met Sam at his house at 8 a.m. I threw back a Jack-and-Coke before we left for pre-game festivities. So what if it wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet. JUDGERS!

I’m not a USC fan. In third grade, when I started to like sports, the UCLA Bruins caught my heart, and I’ve rooted for them ever since. But Sam is the head of the Design Studio at USC and I’ve never been to a college football game so I figured I’d go and support the Pac-12 against Boston College.


The only time I’ve been on USC’s campus was when I covered a swim meet at the USC pool while interning for the Orange County Register. This time, I was able to take in the beauty of the place. And with Trojans fans scattered under tree-supplied shade and green patches of grass, grilling, playing catch and throwing back some brewskis, this seemed like a beautiful thing. It made me regret not going away to college. I went to a commuter school and lived at home. Our school didn’t have a football team.

I set my phone to alert me of the UCLA vs. Nebraska score (Bruins destroyed the Cornhuskers after getting down 21-3) and we found our seats to bake in the sun. I really didn’t care if USC won or not. All I wanted was to chant FIRE KIFFIN, but USC found some game and beat up on a poor Boston College team, 35-7.


The experience as a whole was fantastic. Much love to Batchy for the tickets, Sam for the invite and his wife Rose for the company.


Rick Warren wrapped up his series “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” with a tight bow – how to use your pain for good. At some point in the future I hope to expand on how others, and maybe myself (if I can get there), have used their loss experience to help others going through the same hell. Warren announced next week he’ll begin a four-week series “The Habbits of Happiness.” It sounds like it’s another sermon directed at me.

After a nap, Gray climbed (yes, climbed…he’s been doing this consistently lately, despite dropping his mattress to the floor) into Ellie’s crib where they gleefully played for 30 minutes. I came in to ask them to stop screaming when I found this.

They’re freaks.

How was your weekend?

Unemployed, Ellie Knows My Name and Rick Warren Comes to Corona – How Was Your Weekend?



I’m officially laid off. Those of us left in the office spent our last hours clearing out our desks, turning in keys and idling around while we waited for our flexible time off checks to arrive. I didn’t notice any tears, except for the customer service rep from sales that seemed to take it really hard. Their jobs are safe, for now. She wept for us while we wore our “it ain’t no thang” faces. I think we were all more focused on getting our drank on.

Down to the parking lot we moved, where one festive co-worker brought a flavored Malibu Rum bottle. Another grabbed a Coke from the vending machine and plastic cups from the kitchen. We stood in a circle sipping on a taste of summer. In essence, this was our collaborative sigh. All the stuff that we’ve endured for the past five months, five years or decades, for some, is behind us. We’re free to move on. To what, we don’t know. And that part’s scary. But we’ll all find our paths. And we’ll look back on this as a forced blessing.

A yard of Bud Light, from the Yard House.

A yard of Bud Light, from the Yard House.

We moved the party from the parking lot to the Yard House where I got the small beer pictured above. Remember the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally? I think the lady in the background is planning a remake.

My wife worked so the twins and I hung out with the family of one of her co-worker’s. On the way there, I flipped the radio to the Angel game to catch the final frames. During a commercial break I switched back to music, and Gray was not pleased. He’s really good at whining, so that started as he moaned “More Angels.” I tuned it back and as the game returned, Gray began a “Let’s go Angels” chant. This was new. He kept repeating it to the point of annoyance. I tried to mix in some clapping for him, and showed him how.

“LET’S GO ANGELS!” clap clap clapclapclap. He told me that was silly. A few minutes later he slapped his leg in a display of “Okay, I’ll clap, but I’m just using one hand, and it’s still silly, Dad.”

At the house our friend made us and his five kids a breakfast dinner. Ellie loves her some pancakes and Gray, while pretty picky, can’t deny him some sizzled bacon, so it was a good fit. We chowed. The kids played. And it was an uneventful night at the hospital for our wives. It was a good night.


“Are you Seth?” Ellie asked me during breakfast. I stared at her blankly.

“Huh?” I replied.

“Are you Seth?” she repeated.

“Yes,” I answered. She shouldn’t know my name. The hell?

“I’m Ellie,” she said. “That’s Gray.” She tilted her head to her right. That was the whole conversation. Twilight Zone shit.

My wife's party favors.

My wife’s party favors.

We celebrated my brother-in-law’s success in school and a recent job working in the field of environmental science. My wife and her mom, never the ones to simply blow up some balloons and order a pizza, threw together a school-themed party featuring brown-bag covered books, globes, lined brown paper (found only in elementary schools) as place mats and a photo booth filled with props.


I was getting Ellie dressed to head off to our second trip to Saddleback Church. As I pulled a summer dress over her head and straightened it out, I saw too much exposure up top. Since my wife didn’t like my idea to tape the top like the celebs do on Oscar night, we switched dresses. Which is increasingly becoming a problem.

“I no want to where that dress from Target” Ellie scowled. She’s 2. Almost 2-and-a-half. Her grammar blows but she sure knows her fashion. I don’t even know where the dress came from. Somehow I got it on her and we got out of the house.

Rick Warren, Saddleback’s lead pastor, decided to attend the Corona campus today. And he brought a whole mess of other people with him. Last week there were 500 attendees between two services. This week that number catapulted to 1,200. He jumped on stage to worship, spoke to us before the video sermon aired and dawned some board shorts after the service for baptism. It was cool and all, but it’ll be nice not to have to hunt for a seat next week.

After naps the twins and I met my sister, her husband and my nephew at Tom’s Farms to let the kids explore and munch on some tasty burgers. We found them finishing up a train ride which was right next to a raised stage. Gray and Ellie feel super at home on stage and spent most of the night running, jumping and dancing on the platform.

My wife’s grandpa built them a stage last Christmas to feed into their love of performing The Lumineers songs. Enjoy this video from Christmas night.

Man, they look little.

County Fair and We Go Back to Church – How Was Your Weekend?


I left work early and we drove down to Costa Mesa to hit up the Orange County Fair. Since Jax was born this has been an annual tradition for our family. We have the photo booth strips to prove it.


Maybe announcing “Okay, kissy face!” was a bad idea in the second pic. Damnit, Gray, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU KISS YOUR SISTER!


From noon – 4 p.m. certain fair food was $2 and the children’s area was $2 for rides and games. We packed in carne asada tacos, garlic fries and shaved ice in the 90 minutes we had to exploit the offer. Oddly, the kids didn’t want to go on any rides. They cried hysterically on the carousel. Ellie panicked on the motorcycles (they go around in a circle) to the point that the ride’s operator told us that they’d prefer not to the scar kid if they’re scared. All I wanted was for him to pound that start button, because I knew she’d be okay once it started. He finally did. When she got off, she told me she had so much fun. Her face was red and swollen from crying.

Sunset at the OC Fair. No filter.

Sunset at the OC Fair. No filter.

We saw farm animals, watched the pig races and chowed down. Don’t bother with the fried Klondike. Unless you like bland mush.

At night a Sublime tribute band, 40 Oz to Freedom, performed at The Hangar. Gray’s obsessed with live music and stood at the front of the railing that separates the paid audience from the mooching fair crowd, chewing on his hands (a nervous habit) and surrounded by adults sipping on beers. Eventually we moved towards the back of the pack for some space.

As Gray straddled my shoulders, Ellie felt the music from the stroller.

She looks like the second-hand smoke got to her. But I assure you, this was a smoke-free environment.


We went over to the Corona Farmer’s Market to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies. They should really change the name to A Bunch of Pop Up Tents in an Old Parking Lot Market. I think that Sears sign is about as old as me. ANCIENT.

At night my wife and her mom worked on some party-planning activities, so the kids watched another of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks. I think it was the third one. Honestly, I have no idea wtf was going on. The sound wasn’t super loud, I didn’t really pay attention, and it appears this was the third movie in the franchise. So we have no idea what happened in the second. But it seemed like the director took a substantial amount of mushrooms to do the film. He was probably paid in mushrooms. “Forget the points on the back,” he must’ve told the studio. “I want mushrooms.”


Earlier in the week my counselor told me that Saddleback Church’s pastor Rick Warren returned after 16 weeks following his son’s suicide. He started a series called “How to Get Through What You Go Through.” My counselor handed me a sheet of notes she received when she attended his first service back. The sheet outlined the upcoming topics in the series, which I identified with immediately. I told my wife about it and we decided to visit a church for the first time since our church closed in May.

saddlebacksermonsWarren breaks down six different emotional steps of crisis. His and mine relate to the death of a child, however he said this also is for people who have lost their job, a relationship or have been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Saddleback Corona makes its home at Santiago High School. We made it to the 11 a.m. service, got the kids registered for their class and found the auditorium for the service. The satellite church (the main church is in Lake Forest) has its own worship band and pastor. Then we watch Warren’s sermon from the night before on video.

In the middle of it Warren’s wife prayed. She asked those that are going through a crisis to stand. I kept my big butt in my seat, but my wife was ballsy enough to stand up. I sobbed during the whole prayer. Every single thing she said was spot on. Throughout the sermon I found myself hoping for less scripture and more of Warren’s own account of his feelings, emotions and experience. This is what I thirst for. What I yearn for. It’s what I identify with.

He talked about the day his son died. He stood in the driveway of his son’s home with his wife, and minutes after they arrived friends came to support them. They didn’t talk. They just placed hands on Warren’s shoulders. They were simply present. Words weren’t needed. But touch was. That night these same friends slept at Warren’s house. On his couches, his floor, anywhere. They didn’t want him and his wife to be alone.

I flashed back to the night Jax died. The hospital waiting room was packed with our family and friends. Most waited to come hug us after he died. To cry with us. Their tears were enough for us. Words weren’t needed. And if they were spoken, I don’t remember what was said. But I remember everyone’s presence.

Anyway, we decided to go back through the end of the series in early September. This is exactly what we need to hear right now.