What Actually Makes Me Happy

the Sierra Nevadas as seen from the viewing car on Amtrak's California Zephyr

This treatise started as an email to my dear friend, Lauren Jacobson. It has evolved slowly (and slightly) in the year since I wrote it.

The Things That Make Me Happy

Studying the scriptures:
Life and the cosmos are like this giant puzzle—the greatest puzzle—and you're trying to unlock it. Studying the scriptures yields the best rewards: truth about life and how to become like (and commune with) God.
Learning something new:
You feel like your universe expands, and that is because it's, in a way, learning how to become like our Father. It speaks to your soul, I think, because it's one of the main objectives in life.
Creating something:
Writing/drawing/building tools are my way of organizing ideas, words, materials, people into a higher order—and that is Godlike.
Working out:
Feels good for a variety of reasons
Spending time with certain people:
What is the nature of those interactions? Intellectually stimulating conversation. Deep feelings of joy. Mutual acceptance. Mutual interest. Similar fears. Understanding. This level of connection produces profound joy.
Exploring & Discovery
There is a divide in my affection for places; on the one side are things you hear about from other people; on the other, the things you discover yourself. My favorite places are places no one told me about, but that I stumbled upon.
Giving people blessings:
Bearing the priesthood is a sacred duty, and when it is used to bless Heavenly Father's childre, I get to feel a bit of how Heavenly Father loves and sees them.
Contemporary art:
Concepts that challenge the viewer, where everything is not immediately apparent, make me happy.
Helping people:
I particularly enjoy helping people who can't help themselves and haven't asked for it.
Having a clean room:
Everyone knows this. I (almost) never practice this. The act of organizing is spiritual.
Family history:
The turning of the hearts to the fathers is a real thing. There is no reason finding dead people's names in old church and governmental records and then entering them into a computer service (and then going to the temple and doing their ordinances) should be this fun. But it is enthralling—like real life Pokemon where you're trying to catch all your dead ancestors.
Being with Mexican people:
They are happier people and talking to them is one of the joys in my life.
Spending time with McCall:
She is my favorite sister on this earth.
Following a prompting:
It makes me happy to know that occasionally Heavenly Father's and my wavelengths are close to each other.
Nature:
When I am deep in the woods, looking out across a pond for too long, this pernicious feeling rises in my heart that compels me to write bad poetry.
Going to the temple:
If I'm ever just worn out, nothing feels better than just taking a nice long nap in the temple.
Achieving goals:
Crossing something off a todo list is visualized progress.
Spending time with my family:
No one makes me laugh harder than Dane or Tanner. No one makes me realize how caring a human can be than Dillon. Tyson is meekness embodied.