The Harvard Grant Study spent 75 years and $20 million to determine what makes people happy. I think of my grandmother who lived to be 95 years old. Raised on a tobacco farm in the mountains of North Carolina, she ate whatever she wanted all her life. She frequently had fried eggs, biscuits and gravy, bacon, whole milk, butter, coffee with real cream and sugar (nothing artificial), fried chicken, cornbread, and she loved pecan pie. No low fat, carb free diet for her. I remember her as one happy woman.

Standing in line today at Panera Bread behind my best friend, I threw caution (and calories) to the wind. I spot the one I want. It’s a gigantic cinnamon roll in the pastry case which I plan to heat in the microwave and then spread with lots of real butter. I will not order the Power Sandwich with egg whites and spinach as usual because it never made me happy. I deserve that cinnamon roll for a number of valid reasons. For example, I read in the Woman’s Day magazine that happy people do something nice for themselves every day. This is my nice thing for today.

My friend orders first. She is a Size 0. She looks like a senior citizen fashion model, but I love her anyway. I have supped with her enough to know why she looks so svelte. She doesn’t eat sugar, salt, butter, red meat, flour, and lives an organic lifestyle. She orders the Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal. Wait…she is a very happy person.

After I eat my 630 calorie cinnamon roll with 26g of total fat and realize I will have to be on the treadmill for an hour to work it off, I am not so happy. I am determined to get to the bottom of this happiness conundrum. The Internet provides a plethora of advice on how to become happy.  Here are just a few of the suggestions:

Smile more, help others, exercise, socialize, work toward goals, express gratitude,

face fear head on, remain optimistic, see life as a journey, focus on enjoying the moment, plan ahead, take responsibility for my own life and decisions, don’t be so critical of myself, eliminate negative people, control my own life, don’t try to control others, just go with the flow, have more fun and less stuff, watch T.V., don’t watch T.V., good health, forgiveness…the following are my personal favourites:

Have a dog jump up and hug me (I have two Chihuahuas so that might be challenging)

Sing like Mick Jagger in the shower

According to Dr. Christian Maciel:

“You will be happy the moment you realize you have stinky feet.”

How did my grandmother have sixteen children, milk cows, cook three meals every day and yet seem so happy? Let me skip to the conclusion of that massively detailed, 75-year Harvard study. Only five words were needed:


Have warm, loving relationships with family and friends…no matter what you eat!