Readers Forum

Reader responses to our Winter 2009 issue, on Sustainable Happiness.


Happiness After a Layoff

When I first received the Winter 2009 edition of YES!, I set it aside. Recently, however, I was laid off from my job and I suddenly had time to catch up on my reading. I read your issue on Sustainable Happiness, which addressed my core concerns as I grappled with unemployment in a crashing economy—how to survive by living simply and how to be happy in the process.

The magazine was a godsend—full of inspiring examples and practical tips for exiting the “rat race” and pursuing real happiness. It gave me comfort and a vision for alternative ways of living, and I am heartened to know that many others have already pioneered the path that I am now treading. Thanks for the directions.

Brad Thacker, Lakewood, CO


Contentment Is Enough

Your Winter 2009 issue left out an important factor on the subject of happiness. We all feel anxious to be “happy.” When we believe we have not achieved this goal, it can become the cause of unhappiness! It is important to recognize that happiness, like joy, is only momentary and does not last as long as contentment, which should be our goal. Contentment arises from achieving our goals and can be maintained. Your issue avoided the issue of how temporary the joy of happiness can be.

Arthur M. Pierson, Poughkeepsie, NY

Tiny House on a Budget?

I just read Carol Estes’ article “Living Large in a Tiny House.” I am exploring options for cheap housing, including pole buildings and used campers, and was excited to learn about these portable houses. My research found estimates of $21,000 to build a similar house yourself, so I would love to learn how Dee Williams built her home for $10,000 including PV panels!

Adam Shank, Painesville, OH

I bought and modified a set of plans from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and built the house myself using second-use materials. You can find more on this at

Conservatives are Happier

I just finished your Winter 2009 issue. I was disappointed with the slant of the magazine. For example, there was no mention of the work of Arthur Brooks showing that conservatives are happier than liberals and religious people are happier than secular. To not explore these discoveries seemed a blatant omission.

Tom Terrill, Lake Bluff, IL

“10 Things” Poster

Your “10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy” was fantastic. I printed it out, and we’ve been reading and discussing them at parties and get togethers. It certainly brings one back to reality.

Alice Slater, New York City, NY


Gandhian Awakening

I saw the piece in YES! on Sarvodaya. All the things in the article are true, but (I believe) are secondary to the main point: the transformation of society. Deshodaya activities (“national/political awakening”) are now the central focus of Sarvodaya. We are aiming way beyond “conflict resolution.” December marked the 50th Anniversary of Sarvodaya. I believe that the next 10 or 20 years will see the establishment of a Sarvodaya-inspired, spiritually based economic and governance structure in Sri Lanka and also in every other society in need.

Sharif Abdullah, Portland, OR

Sharif is a founding board member of YES!, president of Commonway Institute, and recently received the Sarvodaya Vishvamitra (Friend of the Universe) award.

Your Own Food Solutions

Our December online newsletter asked readers this question: “How are you changing your food habits?”

I am a work-for-food volunteer for Idaho’s Bounty local food cooperative, and I love it. Every Wednesday we sort produce from local farmers and distribute it directly to local consumers.
Blair Van Pelt

In October 2008, I heard author Will Tuttle talk about how I, as a non-vegan, am a predator, and how our forced numbness to our cruelty makes our peace efforts “ironic.” I am now a practicing vegan, as well as a macrobiotic eater.
Linda Bacon

Being elderly, we eat a lot less animal products. We find fresh fruits and vegetables with nuts added keeps us slim and fit. More groups in our area are creating food kitchens since so many people have lost their homes to foreclosure.
Jone Manoogian

Our community has a wonderful farmers market and I am blessed to have a 40-year-old freezer in our basement and a shelf for pumpkins and squash. If the power goes out, the freezer is on a platform with casters, and we can wheel it out into the winter.
Susan Heitzman

My wife and I chair a committee to promote a community garden. We already have 12 families signed up. We convinced a local subdivision developer to gift us with a half acre … We had been looking for the right volunteer outlet for us in retirement, and this seems to be it.
Ben & Dee Andrews

More of your solutions at



WANT THIS ISSUE? or call 800/937-4451

No Paywall. No Ads. Just Readers Like You.
You can help fund powerful stories to light the way forward.
Donate Now.