Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.
Our weekly Sunday letters often focus on how we connect with each other and offer ideas for enhancing those connections. We’ve talked about family road trips and sporting events to technologies like video conferencing and text messages. But until now, we haven’t touched on an important source of connection – one that allows you to connect with people you’ve never met. Today, we’re talking about books.
“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years,” the scientist Carl Sagan once wrote. “To read is to voyage through time.”
We couldn’t agree more: When you read books (whether in print or digital form), you engage with a conversation with the authors and hear new ideas. Besides connection, the benefits of books are countless: knowledge, mental stimulation, stress reduction, better vocabulary and memory, and improved analytical skills.
The social aspects of books
You might think that reading a book is a solitary affair, but it need not be.
Back in June, we hosted the first of our “Celebrations Book Club by Cheryl’s Cookies.” It featured a conversation with New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner about her latest book, That Summer, which tells the story of two women who have similar email addresses, and the series of events that ensues because of that coincidence.
The meeting featured good conversation, as Weiner took questions from our joint communities. One attendee asked her to talk about her journey of self-acceptance aka her “butterfly experience.”
“The older I got, the more I realized that happiness doesn’t have a number on a scale or a size inside of a dress, and that waiting is a bad thing to do, like postponing your happiness until it’s 10 pounds from now,” she said.
Like most book clubs, the meeting also featured some great food: Cheryl’s sent each participant cookies to munch on during the conversation. One participant offered her gratitude: “Thank you for offering this online event,” she wrote. “I am enjoying this discussion. And thank you for the cookies. Definitely a nice pairing!”
The second meeting of the book club, which was hosted by our friend Claudia Copquin (who, by the way, worked with us in our earliest days), took place Oct. 2 and featured a conversation with Lisa Jewell about her new book, The Night She Disappeared.
A book recommendation that made us think
You don’t need to be in a book club to talk about books. In 2016, as Jim was preparing for a vacation, board member and long-time friend Larry Zarin said, “At the risk of ‘ruining’ your vacation I’m going to recommend a book given our common interests.” That book was Michael Lewis’sThe Undoing Project. It did “ruin” Jim’s vacation as he couldn’t put it down!
The book explored the unique partnership between two Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their friendship and collaboration literally rewrote our understanding of how we make decisions and how our minds systematically make mistakes when forced to work in uncertain situations. Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize for the work.
The Undoing Project got Jim thinking about Kahneman and Tversky’s research on how we think as well as Dr. Kahneman’s additional research into what makes us happy.
Given that our mission is to inspire human connection and expression, Kahneman’s work on creating fulfillment in our lives resonated deeply with both of us.
Several weeks ago, Jim’s interest in Kahneman’s research was sparked further when he read an article on a new psychological study that unearthed three paths to a good life and was, in part, based upon a conversation between Daniel Kahneman and accomplished economist, Tyler Cowen. The paper suggests that we can pursue different avenues to happiness based upon our core values.
The three paths to happiness
Let’s explore these different approaches to happiness and the role they play in our lives and purpose in greater detail.
Short-term satisfaction and joy
Small moments matter and should not be taken for granted. Even if we are not yet sure exactly where we’d like to be in our personal or professional lives, we can still make the most of every day. Taking the time to find joy in simple moments of happiness, connection, and expression help us to appreciate life. The importance of celebrating everyday occasions is, a huge part of what inspires us at 1-800-Flowers.com.
Jim had a recent micro-moment that meant a lot to him. He watched his granddaughter compete in the Hamptons Classic equestrian event. It was a beautiful day and it made him very happy to be able to spend time with his family.
For Chris, taking time to explore Iceland with his son provided endless micro-moments that made his year.
While spending time with family and friends or taking leisure time to enjoy our favorite foods and places can bring us immediate happiness, life satisfaction is fulfillment that we build over time. If looking back on our past years and we can feel a sense a pride and accomplishment, we have achieved life satisfaction.
Unlike short-term satisfaction, meaning and purpose are not immediate outcomes and often require significant personal sacrifices along the way. Entrepreneurship and business require many personal sacrifices.
Jim often says:
I wasn’t smarter than anyone else, but I worked hard and stayed curious and open-minded. Building my floral business from the ground up, meant spending hours learning how to wear many different hats. It also meant that I didn’t always get to spend as much time as I wanted with my family, especially with my young children at the time.
Chris was working in our father’s contracting business when Jim negotiated a ‘trade’ for him 35 years ago. Like Jim, Chris leading the business has resulted in sacrifices, but we feel tremendous satisfaction both personally and professionally.
Psychologists have recently uncovered a third path to happiness called psychological richness, or the fulfillment we derive from nuanced, challenging experiences that shift our perspective. While these life-altering experiences can be positive, such as the opportunity to study or work abroad, psychological richness can also be achieved through overcoming adversity.
Let’s face it. As many joys and celebrations as there are in life, there is also disappointment. While external forces may be responsible for many of those losses and letdowns, how we handle disappointment contributes to our resilience and happiness.
Perhaps more so than uplifting moments, being able to rise up when life knocks you down is rewarding. In the process of overcoming challenges, we often realize that we are stronger, more capable and more resilient than we ever knew. In recognizing what does and does not work for us, we can work toward fulfilling our purpose.
Some Time for Reflection
Reflecting on Daniel Kahneman’s wisdom, we invite you to take three things into consideration:
Ultimately, we are responsible for creating our own happiness and achieving life satisfaction, whatever that means to us, is a journey that requires introspection, gratitude, hard work, and books.
All the best,
Chris and Jim