Wednesday, April 02, 2008

From The Writer’s Almanac:

"The world must be made safe for democracy,"said President Woodrow Wilson on this day in 1917 as he called Congress into special session and asked them to declare war on Germany.

It's the birthday of the author of many of our best-known fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen. In 1835… he desperately needed money for rent, so he quickly wrote and published a pamphlet containing four fairy tales. It was such a big success that he published a new collection of fairy tales every Christmas for the next few years. They were cheap paperback editions, and they grew to be extremely popular. He started off by retelling the stories he had heard from his parents as a child, but then he began making up his own. Between 1835 and 1872, he published 168 fairy tales, including "The Little Mermaid," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Snow Queen," "Princess and the Pea," and "The Nightingale" and "The Ugly Duckling."

Want to be happier? A new study reported today in the Wall Street Journal found that when we spend time on what the study calls “engaging leisure and spiritual activities," things like visiting friends, exercising, attending church, listening to music, fishing, reading a book, sitting in a cafe or going to a party, we're typically happy, engrossed and not especially stressed.

"These are things you choose to do, rather than have to do," notes one of the study's co-authors, Prof. Schkade of the University of California, San Diego.

Do we really need a study to tell us this? Yes, it’s good to get a reminder. My dad always encouraged me to “take time to smell the roses.” I wrote down my goals yesterday, no mention of "engaging leisure and spiritual activities." Maybe that's why written goals are such a problem for me. I'm going to revise my list as soon as this is posted. How about you?

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