Excerpt from Chapter One

The Underside of Joy

I recently read a study that claimed happy people aren’t made. They’re born. Happiness, the report pointed out, is all about genetics — a cheerful gene passed merrily, merrily down from one smiling generation to the next. I know enough about life to understand the old adage that one person can’t make you happy, or that money can’t buy happiness. But I’m not buying this theory that your bliss can be only as deep as your gene pool.

For three years, I did backflips in the deep end of happiness.

The joy was palpable and often loud. Other times it softened — Zach’s milky breath on my neck, or Annie’s hair entwined in my fingers as I braided it, or Joe humming some old Crowded House song in the shower while I brushed my teeth. The steam on the mirror blurred my vision, misted my reflection, like a soft-focus photograph smoothing out my wrinkles, but even those didn’t bother me. You can’t have crow’s-feet if you don’t smile, and I smiled a lot.

I also know now, years later, something else: The most genuine happiness cannot be so pure, so deep, or so blind.