I can hardly believe it’s been almost a year since I last posted an essay here!
It’s not that I haven’t been busy doing my best to spread the happiness message — I have been, very busy.
Serving as President of Gross National Happiness USA — an organization I helped start up in 2009 — took a lot of time, attention, and energy. Last September, I resigned from the GNHUSA governing board (I’m now on the advisory board) to devote needed time to writing my book, tentatively titled Preaching Happiness: Secular Sermons for Everyone Who Wants a Happier World.
I have a publisher, and the book is scheduled for a May 2020 release. So exciting!
Let me tell you a bit about it. Back in 2013, I was first invited by my own church, the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (UCM) to deliver a sermon on personal and collective happiness. I was thrilled, and accepted immediately. Since then, I’ve delivered sermons on multiple aspects of both systems change (ie, the Gross National Happiness paradigm) and the ways nurturing personal happiness skills can make life better for ourselves, and serve the greater good. It has been a great privilege to share this knowledge with multiple churches in Vermont, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Together, these sermons — and five more I’m writing for the summer of 2019 — will comprise the new book, along with an intro chapter explaining just how and why someone who never attended seminary ended up preaching happiness.
My most recent sermon was back at UCM, which recorded what I had to share on the subject of kindness. UCM has been invaluable to me on my happiness journey in so many ways, not least of which has been the opportunity to watch and learn from a profoundly powerful minister, Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, week after week. We are so fortunate to have her in our community!
There’s another church which has played a particularly important role in my lay preaching career: The First Unitarian Universalist Church and Society of Barnard, Vermont. It’s a lovely historic building, housing a congregation that meets just eight weeks each summer and therefore relies on guest preachers rather than a settled minister. They do, however, have an awesome music director! Barnard is also a vibrant summer town, with one of the best general stores in Vermont and Silver Lake state park just across the street — so it’s been a real joy to lead 11 services there. In 2019, I’m leading five more services there, and really looking forward to it.
Preaching repeatedly to the same wonderful group of folks has afforded me the opportunity to dig a little deeper into each happiness topic, and repeatedly connect the dots between cultivating personal and systems change. Topics so far include the growth economy, social comparison, mindfulness, and the interconnections between animal and human well-being (thanks to Beth Allgood and the International Fund for Animal Welfare).
Upcoming topics are learning, nature, beauty, resilience, and, the big question: can happiness save us? (Spoiler alert: yes, it can, but will it?)
So that’s what I’ve been up to, what I’m still up to. I love, love, love sharing my happiness teachings from the pulpit! And I’m very excited to get the collected sermons out there in book form. Please email me at HappinessParadigm@gmail.com if a) you think I might be a good fit with your congregation and/or b) you want to make sure your name is on the list for pre-ordering the book. I’ll get back to you promptly, and with gratitude.