Advice

Dear Abby: Senior project investigates what makes people happy

Dear Abby: I am a senior in high school. As part of the English program, each senior must assemble a senior project. For mine, I decided to research happiness. I have researched what makes Americans happy and the brain process that takes place when people feel joy.

As someone who reads questions all day about people’s problems, I would like to know what makes you happy. Do you have any hobbies or favorite pastimes? Do you have a favorite place to go to cheer you up? What do you think about in order to cheer yourself up?

Thank you for your time and consideration. I can’t wait to hear back from you.

High School Senior

Although I read about problems every day, they don’t drag me down. They make me want to take action. What makes me happy is knowing I can make a positive difference in the lives of the individuals who write to me. While I enjoy an occasional concert, play or film — and getting together with friends — much of my happiness is derived from my work.

When I need a lift, I think about the blessings I have — a loving husband, that we’re both healthy, that we have friends to laugh with, that I have the ability to exercise, enjoy my favorite flower and the warmth of walking in the sunshine. And I remember to be grateful for all of them.

Dear Abby: I’m a 14-year-old girl, and I have had a great relationship with my parents since I was a baby. I have always felt I have the perfect family. I can talk to them about anything and love spending time with them.

Lately, though, I have begun fighting with my dad almost every day. They’re never big or scary fights, just arguments that leave us both angry and disgruntled. He says I have a newly developed “attitude.” I say he has a bit of a temper. Neither of us is willing to back down.

We have talked about our constant arguing, but we honestly don’t know how to fix it. He recently suggested family counseling, but I’m not sure if it has gone that far yet. Any advice?

Teen

Some of what is happening between you and your dad may be that you are now a teenager, with all of the hormonal changes that go with it. That said, you are old enough to understand that because there can be consequences for saying the first thing that pops into our heads, it is prudent to exercise tact.

I consider your father’s idea of family counseling now to be a good one. Think of it as “preventive medicine” to avoid a more serious breakdown in communications later.

Dear Abby: Is it OK to put a paper towel holder in the bathroom? I don’t want to buy the kind that you can pull out from a box. I want to put a holder on the wall so I don’t have to hide my roll under the sink. That way, anyone can pull a sheet off the roll to clean up a mess or wipe their hands if they don’t want to use a hand towel. I’ve never seen one in anyone’s bathroom, but I don’t know why.

Janet

Even though you haven’t seen one, I’m sure you’re not the only one to think of it. If you would like a roll of paper towels in your bathroom, you’ll get no argument from me. Go for it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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