The Prisoner’s Dilemma

The Quest for Simple Happiness
Written by Irina Gallagher

My impression is that happiness is a very similar thing for most people no matter their background. After we wade through the nonsense that we think makes us happy – the stuff that we are tirelessly working for that just clutters our lives, I think most people come to a pretty similar conclusion. We want peace. We want to be with the people we love. We want everyone to be healthy and happy. It’s relatively simple. – Excerpt from Mortality Check and the Realization of Happiness


The Prisoner's DilemmaMy guest for this interview is not sitting in the same room with me while I ask him about his thoughts on his life and the room for happiness therein. He is not sitting quietly at his computer sipping a cup of tea as he leisurely answers my questions. His situation is the antithesis. The replies to my questions are coming through a contraband telephone. He is incarcerated for the third time in his forty-two years. For various crimes, he has spent more than a third of his life in prison. A bit over two years remain on his latest sentence.

Simplicity Sprouts: Tell me about your surroundings. Do you have windows?
Guest: My time is spent in a 10×4 meter (approximately 32×14 ft) room with forty other men. The room is filled with bunks. There is about 50 cm (20 in) of space between the beds. That’s our walkway. I have access to windows for most of the days. But the physical surroundings aren’t the scariest thing.

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Q&A on Happiness with My Favorite 6-year-old

The Quest for Simple Happiness
Written by Irina Gallagher with F. Gallagher

Directing the wavesHave you ever had a conversation about happiness with a child? From my experience, what brings children happiness is entirely uncomplicated. Their unsullied spirits value experiences over “stuff,” unless we have taught them otherwise. They relish simplicity. Think about the moments of happiness that they keep reminding you about or the perfect days of which they dream; there is an innocence and a purity in their happiness, right? It’s so important to foster this simple happiness and, as adults, it’s invaluable to take their lead.


Part I

Q: Please tell me about your happiest memory.
A: My happiest memory is the first time of going to the Level 3 class [swimming] with my teacher Miss M.B. She’s now not teaching me, but that was my happiest, my favorite memory. I loved it so much.

Q: Why was it so happy?
A: It was the first time learning how to do stuff in Level 3.

Q: What kind of stuff?
A: We did elementary backstroke and just [regular] backstroke. It was my first time doing sidestroke, elementary backstroke, and breaststroke with my feet in frog kick. It’s just such a happy thought. When I remember it, my heart is bursting with happiness. I really like it when that happens when I’m thinking about it. I think about it often when I think about other things.

Q: Would you say that you love swimming?
A: I love being in the water. I love it very much, as much as I can.

Q: What is your favorite part of swimming??
A: I just like doing all the strokes even made up strokes, like upside-down stroke.

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Q&A with a 6-year-old Co-sleeper

The Family Bedroom
Written by Irina Gallagher

Q: How do you like sharing a room?
A: Good. I like it.

Q: What are the benefits for you for in sharing a room with the family?
A: What’s a benefit? … Oh, okay. I have had zero bad dreams in the room now that we are all together. In the old room, there was almost one bad dream per night. Now I don’t have bad dreams. And I like waking up in the morning when it’s 2% light outside and asking, “Papa, what time is it?” so I can see if it’s okay to get up yet. I like knowing when I’m first to wake up. I love being with my parents the whole night and not having to run across the house to tell you that I’m scared.

Q: Is there anything you don’t like about sharing a bedroom?
A: No.

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