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Life is Like a Batch of Cookies Part 1: Ingredients of a Wonderful Life

When I saw the announcement for the annual office cookie contest, I thought about those little cookies my wife made last Christmas. We call them Lemon Meltaways. As the name suggests, they’re incredible. I remember thinking that even a baking novice like me could win a cookie contest with that recipe.

Now, take a look at my photo. Do I look like a guy who makes delicious cookies? I don’t think so either. But, as improbable as it may seem, I decided to enter the cookie contest of my own free will and choice. And, yes, I actually had to bake them myself.

The adventure that followed didn’t just teach me how to make great cookies. It also provided a metaphor for living a wonderful life, and that’s what I’m about to share with you now.

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made of

There are seven ingredients in Lemon Meltaways. Each makes the cookies better in its own way. Corn starch thickens, softens and makes smooth. Flour provides substance and texture. Powdered sugar adds sweetness, tenderness, and lightness. Butter gives the cookies moistness, richness and flavor. Vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice contribute freshness and variety.

Over the years, I’ve studied the innate qualities associated with happiness, and a few of them stand out. The five listed below can certainly make our lives delicious. I believe that we’re all born with these essential ingredients of a wonderful life.

1. Kindness – When we see the good in ourselves and others, and we’re willing to show it, we are kind. Respect, gratitude and compassion are forms of kindness, which adds sweetness and tenderness to our lives.

2. Humility – When we acknowledge the need to turn our lives around, and we’re ready to change, we are humble. Surrender, simplicity and resilience are manifestations of humility, an ingredient that makes us both softer and stronger at the same time.

3. Peace – When we calmly and consistently exercise our freedom to choose the way we live, whatever the obstacles, we are peaceful. Peace shows up as awareness, balance and willingness, and it gives our lives added richness and flavor.

4. Courage – When we accept responsibility for our decisions, catch a vision of what our lives can become, and we’re prepared to take bold action to make it happen, we are courageous. Courage provides us with substance and texture and holds us together in hard times.

5. Joy – When we focus on the truth and beauty all around us, and we’re willing to embrace it, we are joyful. Optimism, enthusiasm and spontaneity are other names for joy, which blesses our lives with freshness and variety. 

Each of these attributes contributes to and results from living a wonderful life. Of course, they’re not nearly as satisfying on their own as they are together.

I’ll write about that in Part 2.

Which of these five attributes come most naturally to you?
Which one do you want more of in your life?


John studies the lives and teachings of happy people and shares what he learns with others in powerful, meaningful and uplifting ways. He's a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified family life educator, and a speaker and writer, with a Ph.D. in Family Relations from Florida State University. He has been married to an amazing woman for over two decades, and they are the parents of four wonderful people. You can learn more about John and his approach to finding fulfillment at"

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