An Interview with Don M. Winn: Happy Moments

Mar 5, 2018 by

Don M. Winn

Don M. Winn

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Don, in addition to writing books about Sir Kaye and a number of other interesting folk, you have a new project called Happy Moments. Tell us about it.

The Happy Moments book will be a compilation of happy moments from real people’s lives retold in prose, poetry, or story form. The book will be a reminder that a fantastic life is really a string of small moments that become dear to us. It will remind adults (and teach kids) that spending time together and nurturing meaningful connections with one another is what life is all about.

People from all walks of life are encouraged to contribute their favorite happy moments they experienced as children. This book will teach children how to focus on everyday happy moments as a way of coping with challenges or disappointment. It will broaden children’s views of the world and create a sense of empathy that will stay with them into adulthood.

2) Why do you think it important for your readers to share their “Happy Moments”?

Life is full of challenges and stress, even within our own schools. It can be easy to let the cares of the day overwhelm us or make us feel anxious or sad. And every day, we all have an inner life, a story playing constantly inside the privacy of our own brain, like a TV broadcast, that’s interpreting what we see, hear, and feel. We all need to develop the skill of “changing the channel” of that little TV in our head, to be able to shift our focus from the things we can’t control, even the things that scare us, to instead hone in on the peace, beauty, and safety that’s immediately accessible to us. When we can shift away from the nattering of the anxiety-causing inner dialogue and notice the feel of the breeze on our skin, the sun on our face, the sounds of birds, beautiful music, the poignancy of the written word, the touch of someone dear to us, life becomes immensely richer and more satisfying. In short, happier! By sharing with one another, we can draw closer as we see our similarities far outweigh our differences. 

3) Our childhood memories seem to bring back all kinds of feelings and emotions. Is this what you are trying to resurrect?

It is. That’s really the purpose of the book: to help us all shift our focus to the positive, the happy things, and especially to teach children to watch for their own happy moments and hold them dear as a way of appreciating the life we (and they) have. Personally, I occasionally have to hit my own “re-set” button on my own internal broadcast when I get overwhelmed. I do that by stopping and remembering just how good I have it. I hope to hear from people from all walks of life about their perspective as they look back on their fond memories of childhood, and I’m interested in what is enriching their life now as well. Joy, wonder, curiosity, adventure, human connection— all these things are so powerful in their positive effect. Giving these events and memories our full attention even positively impacts our own brain chemistry!

4) I suspect for many people that the family is one long Happy Moment. What have you found so far?

I’ll use myself as an example: my wife and I have been married 37 years and have a wonderful life together. We’ve shared so many happy experiences! There’s nothing better for happiness than when the family is working as a unit. However, this wasn’t always my experience—many people come from a broken home as I did, or have backgrounds of abuse or neglect. Some of us spent time without parents. In cases like these, it’s even more important to glean the good things we can from our background, and cling to our happy moments rather than define ourselves by traumatic things that have happened to us. Even those of us who had the worst environments, (myself included) had happy moments in childhood, and it’s those we need to focus on and relive. 

5) Can any child of any age participate or is this just for adults?

Anyone of any age who has a happy moment from childhood is welcome to share!

6) So far- do males and females seem to have different happy moments?

It will be interesting to see how the experiences compare as we get a larger sampling. There are a lot of similarities in some ways and a lot of differences in others. 

7) Sometimes, a long happy moment is when one is reading a great book—your thoughts?

Absolutely! One of life’s greatest joys is getting lost in an engaging story, whether we’re reading or listening to audiobooks. Whether I’m sinking my teeth into a new mystery, reading an inspiring biography, chuckling along with a comic tale, or reading to learn a skill, reading is a great way to change the channel of our mental TV mentioned above. Reading takes us outside of ourselves into new worlds and possibilities. Continuing to learn throughout adulthood is, to me, one of the watermarks of a life well-lived. 

8) Where can a writer submit their ” happy moment”?

If you would like to contribute your experience to my project, here are some questions you can answer that will help me present and share your memory in the best way possible. It can be very brief, or more lengthy as you’d like. See example below:

  1. What is one of your favorite happy moments from your childhood?
  2. Why is this happy moment special to you?
  3. Describe the setting/scene of your happy moment.
  4. When you think of this happy moment, what stands out to you the most?
  5. What colors/sounds/smells/etc. come to mind when you remember this moment?
  6. How did this happy moment make you feel? (other than happy—perhaps calm, excited, hopeful, etc.)

You can submit your happy moment on the Happy Moments Project page on my website.

Happy Moment Example:

The Button Box—My grandmother had a large tin full of all kinds of buttons, every shape, size and color you could imagine. Whenever I’d visit my grandmother, I loved playing with the buttons. I would place several buttons on a string and then I would twist it so I could make it spin…one direction and then the other. It would entertain me for hours. By the time I was finished playing, I had buttons all over the living room.

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