Why I'm Thrilled To Be at the Cold, Crowded, Inconvenient Inauguration

How to be happier.
Jan. 20 2009 4:05 PM

Why I'm Thrilled To Be at the Cold, Crowded, Inconvenient Inauguration

I’m very happy to be in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. Thinking it over, I realize there are several different aspects of the situation that are boosting my happiness.

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First, it’s a happy time. Because this is a joyful event, everyone is cheerful, enthusiastic, chatty, and helpful. The huge crowds, the freezing weather, and the logistical difficulties just seem to make the occasion a bigger adventure.

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Second, I realize that I rarely participate—directly or as an observer—in big national events. I’ve never been to the Super Bowl; I don’t even watch the Super Bowl on TV. I don’t follow American Idol . We live less than a mile from the parade route for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I’ve never been to it. (I have a friend whose family used to come up from New Orleans each year!) But when I do get into the spirit of these kinds of events, I love it. My daughter and I went to a bookstore at midnight to line up for the last Harry Potter book, and that was tremendously fun. Everyone in the country—and throughout the world—is watching the inauguration, so it’s great to be here myself.

Third, and the most significant, is the sense of elevation to everyone’s excitement. It’s not like watching the ball drop in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Whether or not they were Barack Obama supporters, people everywhere seem to share the conviction that something very signficant has happened: The United States has taken an enormous step to achieve its promise. And the sense of that here in Washington is powerful and exhilarating.

I feel terrifically lucky to be here—but zoikes, it is cold .

*Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just e-mail me at grubin, then the "at" sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. Just write "Resolutions Chart" in the subject line.

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