Photo by Adriana Roberts featured in Why I’m Breaking Up With Burning Man

What We’re Reading: What makes you happy?

Medium Staff
Published in
5 min readSep 1, 2023


Hi everybody,

As I enjoy the last dregs of summer in Chicago, I bask in the nearly-perfect pre-winter weather, the joy in returning my kids to school, and the mouth-watering vegetables that are finally ready to pluck from the garden. To me, being in this space is a manifestation of happiness.

Then I read Charles Black M.D.’s piece that offers a distinct way to consider happiness: wanting what you already have instead of wishing for something else. It made me think about how the decision to alter your attitude could possibly shift the energy you bring to any event, or to yourself.

“We can all be happy now if we learn to want what we have rather than trying to have what we want,” writes Black in the Better Humans publication.

This is probably true for lots of situations and not true for others.

Paolo Pontoniere similarly takes a practical approach, describing “striving for nirvana” as a paradox unto itself. And, the publication Wise & Well tackled the definition of happiness in this way: “The very ingredients of happiness — or what scientists like to call life satisfaction or subjective well-being — actually change over time.” It seems that folks in the 1930s defined happiness as having “security, knowledge and religion.” Today? Who knows.

What’s clear here is that happiness is different for everyone. I’m curious what you think about such joy or how to quantify and define it. What is happiness to you? What makes you happy? If you write on this topic, please let me know by tagging me in the story or responding to this post! (And yes, I really do read your stories.)

See you on Medium.
Adrienne Gibbs
Director of Creator Growth @ Medium

Your Weekend Reads

Why I’m Breaking Up With Burning Man” by Adriana Roberts, creator and publisher of Burning Man newspaper, BRC Weekly, in The Bold Italic

A lot, but not all of the “big art” out in deep playa is partially funded by ticket dollars. And of course, the federal land fees from the Bureau of Land Management have been jacked up, the state of Nevada adds their own tax, there are porta-potty and equipment rentals, and the list just goes on and on. Look, you want an epic experience of living in a temporary desert city of 75,000 that values art, culture, and connectivity, while trauma bonding because it’s in a place where no human being was ever meant to live? Well, this is what it costs.

Photo by Adriana Roberts featured in Why I’m Breaking Up With Burning Man

Experts May Have Figured Out Why We Yawn” by Markham Heid, health and science journalist and TIME contributor

“Yawning is happening in many vertebrates, and what they all have in common is that the throat could collapse due to low muscle tone or muscle tightness due to stress,” he says. “No other movement has been described to restore that muscle tone.”

Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Generative AI” by Olivia Tanuwidjaja, Trust & Safety data analyst at Google, in Towards Data Science

Generative AI, with human creativity of usage, can (knowingly or unknowingly) be a source of legal threats. Generative AI regulation is currently (by July 2023) still a relatively open and debatable space, but the risks are imminent regardless.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

The Maldives As Microcosm Of Climate Collapse” by, writer

The Maldives is a strange place in that its immediate existence depends on its proximate destruction. Everyone that comes here comes on a plane. Everything that comes here comes on a cargo ship. Everything that moves between the islands moves the same way. Most money that trickles down to Male comes through the million plus tourists that come every year. But these same tourists also bring metric shit-tonnes of pollution, making the Maldives increasingly uninhabitable. The Maldives cannot live with or without fossil fuels. This is really just the modern condition, but in the Maldives it is most nakedly so.

Today is National Grief Awareness Day, and Here’s What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief” by Bernie’s Daughter, writer, mother, and daughter of comedian and actor Bernie Mac

It was treated as if the customary time to acknowledge his death and allow for sadness and tears had been given, but it was now time to return to normal. The problem was that my normal was forever gone and I had no idea how to get back to it. It felt like people were disappointed when I failed to return to the expected homeostasis. It wasn’t until I went to therapy a year later and told the therapist what I was feeling and experiencing did someone kindly said to me, That’s grief. And it’s OK.

Photo by Bacila Vlad on Unsplash

Stop Trying to Manage Your Time” by Kim Witten, PhD, coach, designer, and linguist

The key is to notice your energy state, give yourself headspace to think about options, and respond in a way that puts your needs at the forefront.

The feeling is the measure here. If we treat our feelings and bodily signals as information, we’ll have greater clarity about what to do. For example, your emotional reaction to a meeting is telling you something. So is your Sunday night dread.

What have you been reading this week? Let us know in the responses!

Inspired to write? Get started.

What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.