The Power of “Why Not”


Time and time again I battle the question of why I’m writing, or taking pictures, or pushing my thoughts on happiness, hoping to start a discussion – wanting to see where it leads.  “Why start something if you don’t know where you want to go with it?” “Why do you think that what you have to say is so special?” “Why not just stick to construction?” “Why aren’t you focused on dreams or goals that are actually achievable?”  I don’t even need to be asked these questions by others, although I have recently begun receiving them.  The inertia within me asks them every day.  And yet every day, here I am, pecking away.  Each day there’s a different reason to take on Newton’s First Law of Motion.  I’m doing this to realize my childhood dream of being published.  I’m doing this to show my children that I took it upon myself to find happiness and positivity, every day, in the world.  I’m doing this to expand my understanding of happiness, and on the list will, and can, go.  Today, I’m doing this because, “Why Not?”

Why can’t I be a happier version of me? What happiness, energy or grand plan am I stealing from others by pursuing my own? Why can’t I realize my dream of publishing the next great American novel? And why can’t that path to there start right here, every day, day-by-day forming habits that will lead to the my highest calling – no matter what that ultimately ends up being?

When I made the decision to attend trade school – before I ever knew where it would lead me – I expressed my concern over my long-standing pattern of abandoning my studies to the enrollment advisor at the school to which I ended attending.  His response was that my fear of failing may have finally become a push towards success, if I could define my problem.  During the first eight week section of courses at North American Trade School, we started every day with a one hour video-guided, called PX2, lead by the Pacific Institute, focusing on positive self-talk.  I think I may have set the record for getting more out of that than anyone else ever had.  I began to speak to myself in a manner that encouraged perseverance, positivity and persistence.  The results, over the past seven years, have been the most consistently positive of any such period of time in my life.


Something broke free in me when I began to give myself permission to ask “Why Not?” As an assistant, I asked myself the same question in pursuit of establishing myself as a professional capable of managing a large-scale construction project on my own.  Three-and-a-half years later, I have laid down a track-record of success and quality in my work.  I have gained the experience I badly wanted to achieve, and here I am now, asking the same question again.  I have so far to go to establish myself in the way I desire with regard to my stated dreams.  I still notice myself caring more about the reception of my message than I know I ought to.  I still need to refine that approach.  In order to do my best work it needs to come from the most authentic place within me – and that place does not have room for external forces.  It is locked up tightly enough without weighting those factors, and I’m not disciplined enough to unlock that space amidst competing reasons.

As I look back at the content I have created over the past few weeks, I am reminded that asking “Why Not” is an expression of happiness and self-love. It promotes my creative juices, provides me with a clearer sense of my goals, and pushes me to attain them.  I am made more happy by recognizing this pattern of thought and self-motivation.  I hope it continues to spur my courage and inspires growth exponentially along my journey. Here’s to hoping it creates the same drive and purpose within you, and hopefully bolsters the courage to reclaim your dreams and pursue them again.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor

Outward Statement on Inner Goals: An Extended Testimonial of the Me.Now.Movement

I wrote the following nearly a month ago as a testimonial to a group I am a part of.  I didn’t send it over because I  wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it.  And then I realized this testimonial works as an expression of happiness, and might be beneficial for me to talk about and for others to see.  So here goes:


My name is Will O’Connor.  I’m a 32-year-old husband, father of 2, soon to be 3, son, friend, avid reader and aspiring writer.  I’m a fanatic of baseball, and a total junkie for numbers and statistics, although I’m not very competent at higher disciplines of math.  I’m a construction superintendent, and work for a general contractor generally providing supervision and oversight on multi-family projects and light commercial work.  I’ve built apartment buildings as large in scale as 74 units to as small in scale as 3.  I’ve built restaurants.  Most recently I’ve built a pre-engineered metal building housing an expanding indoor soccer facility.  I work in Richmond, Virginia.  I have been here for just over a year, after spending my first 31 in and around Baltimore, Maryland.  I was turned on to the Me.Now.Movement in December of last year by an old friend who aired a podcast with Andrew.  In listening to Andrew and Garrett speak about the movement, I felt the words slide into place in my heart, overlaying on top of what I already knew I wanted but didn’t have the presence of mind to focus on achieving.  Prior to December, I was all of the things I mentioned above.  I loved every single facet of those attributes and labels.  I just didn’t have the vision to structure those components in ways that helped me maximize my potential within each of them.  Primarily, my frustration lied in the competing beliefs that I had to stress my opportunity for growth and advancement professionally, while also knowing that I did not want only one thing to become of me.  I did not, and never have, wanted to round-out skills out in only one arena.  I am intrigued by so many things.  Building is certainly one of them, but it cannot be all that I am.

I like to think in stories and metaphors; to draw the parallels between something easily understood between something far more complex on the surface, yet inherently structurally the same.  I am currently working on my twelfth project as either an assistant superintendent, or superintendent.  Four of those projects have been what are called “gut-rehabs”.  That is to say, we demolish the interior guts of the building, often even items such as the roof, windows and siding, and build back a new system that can further withstand the elements surrounding it.  We upgrade the interior and when all is said and done, a “brand new building” feel is what we strive to provide our clients.  The Me.Now.Movement feels the same way.  It may even go further, to re-frame the interior.  To change the rooms around, maximize the space, provide a new feel to an established building.  Much like the gut-rehabs I sometimes am charged with, The Me.Now.Movement has turned my attention inward; to building new rooms and fresh spaces to explore the passions that lie within me.  To dust off the old plans and revisit them.  To see if they still have a flame, or if relighting that flame will provide a new light by which I can revise old plans and passions into new.

I’m nearly complete with the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  I’ve taken in much of the lessons in this book through the Me.Now.Movement lens.  Most notably, I remember feeling moved at Kahneman’s explanation of the availability heuristic.  I’ll paraphrase, but essentially, we have a far greater memory for remembering all of the instances/people we know who have fallen ill or had bad turns of luck than we do for those who moved the jumbled pieces of life around to create something along the lines of the Me.Now.Movement mission.  In so doing, we create an availability heuristic that suggests the construct of the world around us is dark and foreboding.  We perceive that bad things are far more probable to happen than they actually are, simply because our brain stresses the frequency of these sub-optimal outcomes against the non-headline-making news of all the positive forces in our world.  In recognizing this mental flaw we all seem to all possess. I want to combat that heuristic.  I want to create an availability in the memory of my children that reminds them of why we push forward.  I want to create something, in as grand a scale I can muster, that stands against evil acts, and cancer, and tragedy.  I want to nurture that effort and provide a place for discussion as to how each of us can best enforce the real fact that far frequently, good happens in our world than bad.  I want to make it a tangible, living thought, that happiness and living in the Now is not just about occasionally consciously thinking about these abstract ideas.  It’s about creating those moments with purpose.

Much of the tangible product on my journey through the Me.Now.Movement has yet to be defined.  I am only in the brainstorming phase of my journey.  I am still framing the walls, revising the window openings, checking to see which doors need to go where, and which ceilings I can blow out to obtain higher goals.  This revelation is joyful to me, as I can only speculate how passionate I will feel about the movement when I begin to churn out a product that can be witnessed by my family and loved ones.  I would invite anyone who similarly wishes to bring about their best self through happiness and conscientiousness of the value of the present to explore with Andrew, and the community he has built, the potential they have to affect the Me.Now.Movement and the communities to which you belong.  I am confident that, through diligence and commitment, the Me.Now.Movement will help you to reach your old goals, refine the rusty ones into new and improved ideas, and re-frame the interior of your life into bigger, and more purposeful spaces.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor

Me.Now.Member since December 2016

Memories To Last a Lifetime

I recently read a book by Daniel Kahneman entitled “Thinking Fast and Slow”.  Among various other topics, Kahneman discussed prospect theory and highlighted several times over the benefit of understanding someone’s reference point, which his theory incorporates, over utility theory, which does not take into account the subject’s position when selecting their choice between a sure thing and a gamble.  Essentially, those who are faced between a sure thing and a gamble, elect the sure thing when both outcomes are good; while those faced between a sure thing and a gamble elect the gamble when both outcomes are bad.  Essentially, we hedge our bets so as not to be disappointed with nothing when we could improve our situation, while we gamble on the risk when we have everything to lose.  It has proven true time and time again in economics; and so too does it hold true with behavioral economics.  Kahneman looked closer at how people elect to utilize money and time.  Shockingly, or maybe not so shockingly, a great number of people tested in his analysis over many generations have reported the greatest utility of their time and money is derived from creating memories.  That memory creation creates a lasting impression that goes a great way towards improving our happiness.

As this is a blog about achieving happiness, I find this to be vital information.  I also found myself shaking my head in agreement when he made these points.  Through my own experiences, it is in making of memories that we are able to recall our happiness and utilize it as a means towards furthering that pursuit.  That is to say, memories are fuel for the engine of our lives.  We can use them when our tank is empty to continue forward.  Likewise, when we are at leisure, when we are not necessarily on empty, but just relaxing, we can funnel those memories back into ourselves and reinforce the investments of time and money that we are making.  We receive a hefty return on that investment, because those memories serve as reminders of why we are doing what we are doing; why we push ourselves to success and why we endure stress and strain.  We do it so we can direct ourselves to places where we can enjoy ourselves, and our loved ones, most fully.


Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to collect memories with my family and friends in Charlotte, NC, over father’s day with my family and my brother-in-law, and again at the lake and our house in Richmond with a party of 13, comprising grandparents, parents, siblings, children and friends.  We saw fireworks, grilled, went boating, swimming and rested together.  It wasn’t always perfect, but we left each other with a greater since of pride in belonging to one another.  I’ll draw on those memories in various periods of reflection, reference and re-fueling to encourage my inner self to push for the next opportunity to be so fortunate.  My favorite thing about this past month is that I’ve had an opportunity to enrich my life with the presence of each one of these people; those whom I’ve already come to love are endearingly more so beloved.  I hope I am seen in the same light in each of their eyes.  For that is what is truly important.

These are my people.  They are my tribe.  I love so many others, but I am in love with only them.  They accept me for who I am, support me in who I want to be, and push me to keep a tether between those two things.  Spending time with them is my reference for gauging happiness.  They are my sure things and I’d choose them over anything else I ever had to consider before me.  My month of June was a drastic juxtaposition between being a ball of stress at work and a husband, dad, son and brother outside of it.  I tried hard to be my best self for each of them.  I’m not sure I succeeded, but I gave it my honest best effort.  Hopefully, I’ll be more capable this month than last at achieving that goal, but each and every one of them created a better sense of self within me, and for that I am eternally grateful for the memories we shared and built in June of 2017.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness


Will O’Connor

Vacation Happiness: From Planning to Action



Greetings, all and Happy 4th of July Weekend! Hopefully it is a time for everyone to take an opportunity to rest from the intense heat, spend time with loved ones, cook and eat, drink and visit.  Most of all, I hope it is a time for everyone to reflect on the amazing benefit we have all had of living in the United States.  We are truly blessed.  I’ll be headed up to the Lake to see a whole slew of family.  At the house will be: my grandmother, my parents, my brother, my sister, my wife and our two (three when you count the baby in her belly) children, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend.  Its going to be a full house! So full, in fact, that half of us will be driving to and from Richmond and Lake Anna on a daily basis as my parents house cannot fit the whole group of us.  I’m so excited to be around all of the people I love so dearly, yet rarely get the opportunity to spend time with.  My parents live in Fairfax, Va.  My sister and brother live in Charlotte.  My sister-in-law and her boyfriend live in New York City and my grandmother lives up near Appleton, Wisconsin.  Having known of this plan for some time, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to envision the fun we’ll have.  Boating, fireworks, the jet ski, crabs, and lounging on the dock.  The anticipation of the event is killing me!

That got me to thinking about my quotient of happiness.  It seems, at times, that I’m happier in the anticipation than I am at the event.  Almost as though anything that crosses wires with the image I had constructed in my head brings my happiness down a notch or two.  I think I’ve always faced this challenge.  I’ve always had problems dealing with events not matching my intentions for them.  It has created issues in the past, and I’ve resolved not to let that happen in the future.  What are some of the ways I plan on doing this? I’ve thought about that.  Here are a few of them.  First, I am going to start by not disturbing myself from dreaming of the endless possibilities we’ll encounter.  I’m not going to sap my happiness of anticipation by not setting hopes for myself.  Second, when I get to the lake, I am going to wipe my goals away through positive thought and earnest investment in the present.  I want to allow for the happiness to unfold before me.  I want for speedbumps to be just that; speedbumps.  I want to interact with those I rarely see with the best me I can possibly muster.  Most importantly, I want to look back on the weekend and recall how awesome that time was, even if it wasn’t necessarily what I had envisioned.


Although it carries with it many advantages, one of my challenges can be my strong personality.  It steers me well in much of my life.  I am a focused and passionate individual, and I can articulate my wants and plans, but the ability I have to positively influence matters seems to be tethered to an absolute zero value.  That is to say that my personality has the potential to steer things in the exact opposite way, with the same degree of intensity or impact.  Understanding that about myself, my plan is to check in with myself more frequently during the weekend.  To gauge my emotions, determine what corrective action I need to take, and do so within myself, prior to taking others down that road with me.  This plan gives me great happiness! I can already feel a different vibe within myself than I have in similar events in the past.  I am grateful for the frame of mind the Edison Project has provided me.  It has pushed me to search for my means of happiness; and in so doing has highlighted the ways I might increase that feeling across the board.  Many times, simply by removing the negative, we can experience more of the positive.  That is my goal for happiness this weekend; to experience happiness as presently as I can by setting my often minute desires aside, checking in with myself, and removing the negative.  The rest of the trip will take care of itself.  I look forward to touching base on my success with this plan at the Holiday’s end!

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor


Grinding Through the Tough Days

Silhouette of a man facing a mysterious light

Today’s post comes with difficulty.  As with other days, I woke up today and have scanned my surroundings, topics that are of interest to me and events that lay ahead.  I’m in a decent mood; not too high and not too low.  But for whatever reason, the agent of happiness within me has alluded my attempt to creatively capture a niche of happiness to allow it to be transformed onto the page.  Having anticipated this event occurring at some point, I began to rifle through my mental Rolodex of places and times I was most happy.  Not being able to effectively conjure any particular story that felt organic or lesson that felt unique, I had to continue to strive towards something that made sense to my overall objective of attaining happiness, a bit at a time.  Finally, it dawned on me: success in happiness is often not a straight line because of these types of days.  Most often, the best thing we can do when we feel droll and dreary is to persevere until we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And that’s where I found it! My happiness came from my persistence in chipping away at the roadblock in front of me.  Today may not be the best day.  Those days are numbered as we all know.  What gets us from one “best day” to the next “best day” is a series of days in between, whereby we strive to remain positive and look for the break in the clouds

In my last post I talked a bit about my novice stature.  My wife and I spoke about that at length last night.  It was liberating to explain to her that my perspective intentionally comes not as a professional at this happiness thing.  I’m not the world’s best person.  I’m not magical and I don’t live in fairy land.  What makes this project special for me is the practice of it.  Being happy and staying positive is a challenge.  Writing about it is even harder.  There exists quite a list of things that make me happy without having to work up the energy to be so.  There exists also a list nearly as long, filled with items I need to be more positive and happier about.  Or at least complain less therein.  That conversation led me to brainstorm the areas of my life that I’m not as happy about.  Its led me to resolve to post about my progress in those areas nearly as frequently as the areas of my life that are naturally happy and positive.  I think that’s a great thing! I think if I, if we, chose to acknowledge the areas I, we, allow ourselves to be brought down in, we might be more willing to display areas where we’ve shown growth, strength and resolve.  Seems to me that is just as important.


I always wonder how alone I am in these thoughts.  Are there areas of your life that take extra energy to get up for; to find happiness in? What are some of the best ways you break that dreary streak? How do you acknowledge your imperfections and set goals for their improvements? Where has that taken your journey?

I’m as anxious to learn about your habits and challenges, triumphs and setbacks as I am to communicate mine.  I want to foster an environment of happiness as my penultimate goal, but I also want to discuss the accountability that comes with that effort.  I’d love to hear of recent stories or conversations that left you more resolved and better equipped to achieve your goals.  I’d love to hear how your goals were refined or expanded based on the entrapment you encountered along the way.  Please feel free to leave your comments about that here, or to write to me directly about it.  My contact information is listed and I’m reachable in a manner of different media.  Good luck with your journey forward and thank you for reading more about mine.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor

Taste And See: The Devotion to Happiness

Several years ago my mother gave me a devotional entitled Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence.  It had sat in a bedside table for quite some time.  Not that I wasn’t interested – I just had a devotional that I liked.  Then I determined that it may be time to change it up, go for a different brand of simple thoughts.  I put the devotional in my work bag and brought it out to my job.  It sits on my desk and I take 5 minutes, at no structured point in time, every day to read through it and reflect on the wisdom it espouses.  Today’s was directly in line with the Me.Now.Movement I am involved in, and provides me both peaceful thoughts to implement throughout my day, and reminds me of the importance of living in the present.  Particularly, this passage jumped out at me, “Taste and See That I Am Good.  This command contains an invitation to experience My Living Presence.  It also contains a promise.  The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.  When adversities strike, the human instinct is to doubt My goodness.  Do not try to fathom My ways.  Instead, spend time enjoying Me and experiencing My goodness.”


I battle with the struggle of perseverance through my own effort while at the same time maintaining my faith that God has a plan for me.  It is difficult to properly balance the two competing thoughts, and is taxing on my happiness.  What does God require of us, in order for us to fulfill His plan for us?  That’s a question that keeps me up at night more than any other.  What helps me to sleep, is that at some point I understand, and its only ever momentarily, that my persistence in holding up my end of the bargain puts me on the path to meeting His plan for me.  That provides me with great happiness and sustenance.  It is only when I encounter my next hurdle where I seem to lose that synergy with God.  And then I am reminded again of it.  In truth, sometimes it takes days, weeks, months – its even taken years, at times, for me to understand that my persistence is the key ingredient to finding my way to His path.  Every day I divert from His plan.  Sometimes it is only momentary.  At other times it is severe.  I don’t post about my devotional to claim my moral and spiritual superiority to others.  Far from it.  I actually believe that my human nature requires my daily devotion to God.  Reading a small passage is but a single step along that line of requirement.  It frames my day for me and instill within me positive thought and a manner by which I can attain happiness.  For as much as we might like to think we can govern our happiness, our true grace and salvation, and therefore our happiness, can come only from God.

Faith has been at times an active, and at others a latent pursuit.  It has always been a medium through which I moved, but was not always something met with my open heart.  There are days it still is not.  Those are the days I need faith, and devotion, all the more.  Those are the days I need my wife and my children to be witnesses of God’s love for me, so that the love I feel in their presence reminds me of something greater.  That is the true gift of God’s love; it can inspire us to remember Him when we are least thinking of Him.


Today I am thankful for the foundation in faith that my family and friends helped to instill within me.  I am grateful for the walk I am taking through life and through God with my wife.  I am hopeful that I am doing, and will continue to do, the same for my children.  I am happy that Jesus Christ, the Bible and little devotionals like this one came for me, and are provided to me, on a daily basis.  I pray that God’s plan for me has been instilled within me on some level; that the goals and visions I have for myself and my family will be part of God’s plan for me.  These thoughts, and the actions they inspire help me to be reminded of all that I have; through which I can pursue and achieve happiness.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,


Will O’Connor

Anniversary Edition: Celebrating Happiness Through New Employment Opportunities


On June 27, 2016, I began my journey from Baltimore, Maryland down to Glen Allen, Virginia to fill out my employment paperwork with The Capstone Contracting Company.  I drove the three hours from the dead of night, knowing I first had to go there before then being assigned to my first post as a Capstone Employee: Williamsburg, Virginia for a week.  By week’s end I would be headed back up to Baltimore to pack up our house and officially move down to Midlothian, Virginia.  Midlothian is a wonderful little suburb that reminds me of home in its construct and has more than enough green space to grow into whatever it will become.

My experience with Capstone Contracting has been a prosperous one.  I made the decision to begin my Virginia tenure with Capstone because I saw in their outfit the same talent and desire for growth that I saw in my former firm when making that selection.  I was as lucky then as I am now, having moved from one place of support and family culture to the next.  There were a dozen places I could have landed.  I feel lucky I was able to have a choice, and even more lucky to have gone with my gut in making the decision I made.

In my time with Capstone I have been on five projects.  Only three of whom would actually go on my resume, for the other two were quick-stint assignments to fill in for other superintendents on vacation, before my final landing place opened up.  They have largely been multi-family, although my last one was a light commercial expansion project with a pre-engineered metal building to encompass two large soccer fields, with a smaller one against it.  I have been fortunate to be surrounded by some of the kindest professionals I have ever met.  They have welcomed me into the fold, shared the ins and outs of the local jurisdictions, eateries and events in and around the city.  I have formulated professional relationships with many, and friendships with more than I expected.  Most recently I have been tasked with my company’s first project on campus at the University of Richmond in some time.  We are growing together and I am excited by the growth opportunities I have seen, both for myself, and for Capstone as a whole.

I have been given the freedom to succeed and the support to fall back on when subcontractors proved difficult, or family events needed tending to.  As the first of hopefully many years to come, I intend on understanding the limits of my drive and capabilities, and hope to continue to have their trust.  On my one year anniversary, I am grateful to include the Capstone Contracting Company on my ever-growing list of What Happiness Means to Me.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’ConnorEdisonProject4

A Journey Through Information: Happiness As A Book


    Throughout the entirety of my life, books have been a massive piece in what makes me happy.  From an early age, my mother would sit me on her lap and read to me while we waited for my father to come home.  As I advanced and learned to read, I transferred that responsibility onto myself.  Books from all sources; kids’ books on sports, kids’ books on heroic figures, the Bible for Children, snippets of chapters here and there from larger and more complicated novels – all were welcomed, accepted and for the most part devoured.  Being the competitive type, I would constantly watch my older friends and the adults around me to see what they kept in their library.  Reading was not just about the story or the information I was wading through; it was also about what I was going to read next – about what more I could learn to influence my thoughts and speech.  My father’s parents were habitual readers.  I never saw them go a day without picking up a book during down time or playing a crossword at breakfast or reading a newspaper.  Ideas were premium for those around me.  Even my parents, filled to the brim with the responsibility of raising young children, cycled through books at a respectable rate.  They didn’t just read them; they talked about them.  They didn’t just buy my books; they asked me about them.  To this day, I find myself going into far too great of detail about the book I’m reading and how it is influencing me than the person I’m speaking with usually cares to know.

        Regardless of the reception my enthusiasm meets, books are, and will always be, the best way towards civil understanding of alternate views and lives driven by those possessing these new and innovative ways of thinking.  Books are a window into the lives of those past and present; real and fictitious.  Whether a classic novel or a book on economic and psychological behavior; we have an opportunity to experience other worlds through the text given to us by the author.  Books are not all created equally, but their ability to impact people in different ways creates a market of ideas and interests that would have never otherwise existed.

      Today, I’m focused on wrapping up Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Kahneman’s book is a brilliantly written summary of his life’s work on behavioral economics.  He won a Nobel Prize for his work and Thinking Fast and Slow is a gifted attempt at bringing his theories and research to everyday practice for the general population, who would not otherwise read his research (myself included).  The book is extremely dense and in order to digest the information, I often cannot read more than twenty pages, or two chapters, in a day.  But the effect it has had on my thought process has been incredible.  I find myself bumping into choices where, when I would otherwise have just decided intuitively, have paused to consider how my choices can more properly reflect wisdom and broad framing, in order to achieve success on a more regular basis.  I do not believe I’ll master this difficult subject by reading just one book, but even reading the one book has provoked my thoughts to be a better choice maker.

        My wife and I also typically read at least two books (both have to pick, lest anarchy prevail) to our children every night.  It is a deliberate decision made by us to hopefully instill in them the love of reading, and learning, at an early age.  We hope that they will choose to continue the responsibility of information seeking to the end of their days, and that they might pass along reading to their descendants one day as well.  Books will always provide me with happiness, but if it stops with me, than so too may the pleasure of unveiling new worlds cease to move forward.  Finally, I’m always in demand of a good book list.  If anyone has any suggestions or “need to read” lists, please pass them along in the comments.  I’d be excited to hear what worlds have been the most empowering from people of all walks of life.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor

For Love of the Game


The simplest way for me to immediately realize happiness is to walk through the turnstiles of a baseball stadium.  From an early age, baseball was not just a beautiful game played between two lines and a wall with dirt paths and bases; it was a way for me to bond with my father, a way for simple excitement to meet athleticism and strategy.

The first baseball game I ever attended was an Orioles game at Memorial Stadium in the late 1980s.  While I don’t remember that game, I do remember one or two games at Memorial Stadium was closed.  My first memory brings me great happiness.  It was the 1991 season, the last at Memorial Stadium.  In that game, I remember Cal Ripken Jr. hitting a 3-run Home Run.  It was an MVP season for Cal – his second of his career.  What I remember more is watching my father pump his fist in a circular motion, chanting “Woo-Woo-Woo-Woo!!,” while doing it.  It was the first of many times I would emulate my father on or around the diamond.  I can remember, clear as day, the look on his face when he watched me do the same motion, albeit most likely in a severely inferior way. The smile and laughter he shared with me that night is the perfect illustration of my love for baseball.  Baseball is pure.  Simple.  Yet ultra complicated. A man stands on a mound of dirt 60’6″ from a man holding a bat.  The pitcher has learned to throw the ball in a manner of different ways that make the ball move in different trajectories.  He has an invisible box he must put that ball in, and the batter must choose, very quickly, whether or not the pitch being offered is worthy of a swing.  When he swings, he can hit the ball with all of his might and still be unsuccessful.  He might also swing and miss.  He might even still swing and barely hit the ball, and still be successful.  Every pitch presents a myriad of variables resulting in unique plays and situations where the victor is often the team that handles the situations presented them with the better combination of skill and preparation.  Baseball can be played on the most pristine of fields, or in a parking lot.  As we see in photographs around the world, it is played with all manner of adaptations to balls, sticks and gloves.  But that is all you need to play.  A ball, a stick, and 9 gloves.

 Baseball gives us amazing venues, stars and highlight reel plays to visit, gawk over and spend countless hours debating at the water cooler.  It also gives us tee-ball, Memorial Day All-Star game tournaments, reasons to see friends and loved ones.  Baseball gives more than it takes, which is why it is affectionately dubbed America’s past-time.  Its been played since Reconstruction and unites more people to a common passion than at anytime before.  Only soccer and cricket eclipse it on the chart of world’s most popular sport.  Baseball is the unspoken bond between father and son, brother and brother, and groups of boys everywhere just hoping to one day actually hit that bases loaded, full count, two out Grand Slam with a three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, with the crowd going wild.  Baseball is a real-life event that translates miraculously into fantasy with very little coaxing or prodding.  And for each of these things, it is a bottomless well of happiness for all who seek to be immersed in the present, playing games of the past.

Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor




Wealth of Water


Yesterday my day concluded with a trip to the swimming pool with my family.  My children, 3 and 2, are huge fans of the water, and so we have had a yearly membership to our neighborhood pool for the past 3 summers.  Both my wife and I have always loved the water.  We spend as much time in or on it as we can.  From fishing on my parents’ pontoon boat on Lake Anna, to casual jaunts around the lake or just swimming off the dock, we try to regularly spend time there.  We also schedule a few trips down to the beach every summer to fill our quota of saltwater exposure.  On the off-chance we get to go on a vacation, either as a nuclear family, or as an extended one; we always seize that opportunity.  But the pool suffices for weekdays and the weekends where we are at home base.  It brings immeasurable happiness to all of us.  Yesterday was no different.


My children aren’t yet independent swimmers, so we outfit them with life preservers and launch ourselves into the shallow end.  As they steadily gain confidence, we go from jumping from the top step, to jumping off the edge of the pool.  Reflecting on the progress they make in a single day is good enough to make it a list worth talking about.   What’s more, is the relaxation is brings to us as a unit.  Aside from my youngest being too headstrong and curious to resist the rule of no running around the pool, the water provides us an opportunity to enjoy the effect buoyancy has on our bodies in unison.  The feeling you get when you immerse yourself in water, its fluidity, the comfortable transition from 88 and muggy to 78 and weightless is truly transformative.  Add to that the combination of warm sun, music and games where “Daddy is a shark” and you have one of the most simplified forms of bliss that exists on the planet. 


At a period in our lives where both my wife and I work, at a minimum, 50 hours a week, we feel the joy all the greater.  The work at home with two toddlers is never done.  There’s not yet help with the dishes or the laundry or the crayon that mysteriously jumped from the paper to the wall.  There’s the dog to keep walked and the lawn to keep trimmed.  There’s our room and the kids room and the home office and the playroom still to be done, even when you’ve wrapped up the dishes for the night.  There’s overflow work that needs to be analyzed and mapped out for the following day.  There’s groceries to buy and bills to pay.  These are regular distractions that nearly every adult, parent or not, has to face on a daily basis.  These tasks don’t just sap happiness; they blindfold us to it.  When it all seems too much, the only natural way to manage the mountain of maintenance is to put on the blinders and wade through it.  The water separates us from these tasks.  We cannot accomplish any of these things while swimming.  We are forced to take a break from the daily, weekly and monthly to-dos and focus solely on our presence in the water.  When you think about it, it’s probably the only place people my age and younger don’t regularly strap their phone to their palm.  Try as companies might to develop technology and cases to shield phones from the water, I’ve yet to meet a person to deliberately immerse their phone in the water.  All of this builds a case for the sanctity of water.  For the spiritual and natural connection we experience while in or beside it.  We are better people in it; less focused on distraction and more present to guide our children in navigating its challenges.  Less likely to feel burdened while we are buoyed by its force on us.


I’ve yet to find another commonly accessible feature that is more regularly a place of rest, relaxation, and recharging.  I wonder if there might be something out there that you find more comforting or inspiring? In my ever-increasing search for locations and experiences that lend themselves regularly to happiness, I’d love to hear insights on what you might do on or near the water that benefits your happiness.  I’d love to hear if there are alternative locations or experiences you commit yourselves to that are readily available.  Certainly, I welcome any suggestions, recommendations, tips or advice that I or anyone else might benefit from.


Yours in the continued Pursuit of Happiness,

Will O’Connor