A few days ago, I watched one of Stanford University’s “Classes Without Quizzes,” programs offered during Reunion Weekends for alumni, sometimes by alumni. Fred Luskin (Ph.D. 1999), director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, gave a talk on “The Science of Happiness.” Despite the title, the talk was short on science, but nevertheless was interesting and — dare I say it — useful. An example Luskin gave: you walk into a coffee bar, and instead of buying into the marketing message that happiness is in a perfect cup of coffee, you say to yourself, “Wow, how cool is it that I live in a country, in a city, in a neighborhood, where I can have my choice of 40 different types of coffee drinks!”
I thought about Fred Luskin’s message as I walked around Estes Park this morning, searching for a cup of latte. As the 40 mph gusts nearly blew me over, I knew I was the crazy incognito woman (face mask! hood! double gloves!) wandering up and down the main drag, travel mug in hand. Caffee Collage, closed Monday to Wednesday in the winter. Kind Coffee, closed for remodelling until tomorrow. Red Cup Paperie and Coffee Bar (home of delicious pastries, formerly Long’s Peak Coffee and Paper House, formerly MacDonald Papeterie when it was sort of associated with MacDonald Bookshop, which is still in business) had a hand-printed sign proclaiming December hours as open daily at 9 AM — but clearly not open today. Finally, I pulled into Summitview Coffee, home of the Chicken Fried Latte® — but as the owner assured me, it’s just a goofy name for a blended drink and has nothing to do with chicken, fried or otherwise. Happiness this morning: I got to be in Estes Park (Highway 34 is open, and weather be damned), and I had a choice of all these coffee places to patronize. And not once did I feel thwarted.