By Molly Butler

This weekend marks the official beginning of the new season. I want to wish you all a very happy spring, and on top of that, I want to share a secret formula to actually achieve that happiness. Are you ready?

H = S + C + V

This formula was outlined by psychologists Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, Schkade and Seligman in their book, The How of Happiness (later referenced in Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, which is where I found it). What I like is that this formula balances all factors, both external and internal, short and long term, that culminate into a person’s level of happiness.

H, you probably guessed, stands for happiness. S is the set point, your biologically determined happiness range. Yep, some people are genetically built for happiness just a little better than others. The bad news is, you cannot change this factor. The good news is, that means you don’t have to worry about it!

Humans are incredible ADAPTERS, so even major changes to our conditions don’t drastically change our happiness levels.

C stands for conditions of your life. C is tricky because some elements (age, race, physical health) are out of our control while others (wealth, marital status, location) can be controlled to an extent. C requires balance: a lot of the conditions of our life are only detrimental when we play the comparison game and try to keep up with the Joneses. Practicing non-attachment and mentally exiting the rat race can do wonders. Then there are some conditions which are proven time and again to measurably increase a person’s happiness, and they can be changed. Things like lower levels of noise (the example given is living in a quiet neighborhood as opposed to on a busy intersection with intermittent and uncontrollable noise levels), reducing traffic-heavy commutes and eliminating conflicts in our close relationships.

External conditions are interesting. Humans are incredible adapters, so even major changes to our conditions don’t drastically change our happiness levels. That big change in external conditions that we believe will make us happy (moving across the country, getting a big raise) often doesn’t add much, if any, happiness in the long run. Whether they win the lottery or become paralyzed, a year later, people typically report the same levels of happiness.

V is the main piece of the formula I want us to focus on this weekend. V is “voluntary or intentional activities that cultivate acceptance and weaken emotional attachments.” In short, these are the activities you choose to do. Going to listen to live music, learning a new skill, studying a new subject, meditating, exercising; these all take a conscious choice, effort and attention, and that consciousness is what really feeds the happiness.

We have a huge weekend of activities for you to choose from. It’s not just a calendar of activities. It’s a recipe for happiness. Enjoy!


Bunnies on Belgrade is back! Beginning on March 28th, the “12 Day Scavenger Hunt” will release clues daily on Facebook to lead scavengers to a local business, with a prize basket waiting every day. Plus, $50 gets you a Bunny Box stuffed with goodies from Belgrade businesses as well as a numbered egg, which is your chance to be drawn to win either $1,000 or a big flat-screen TV. The drawing will be held on April 10th via Facebook Live. For more information, visit the website.

It’s time to get crafty. North Mankato Taylor Library will have Craft With Me available for ages 7-11 with an accompanying adult. The March craft will be Bunny Windchimes! All materials are provided, but registration is required. Materials are available for pick up from March 15-19. Then you can head over to Vagabond Village from 2-4 p.m. for Denim Painting! Bring your own jacket or purchase one in store and let local artist Taryn lead the way. You’ll take home your custom painted and undoubtedly gorgeous jacket just in time for crisp spring weather.

Cover-Ups and Remnants by Daniel Kerkhoff will be displayed at the 410 Project in Mankato through the end of March. I stopped by last weekend and was completely floored. Kerkhoff’s work is so clever, earthy, and fun. Don’t miss it!


I’m feeling like some retail therapy this Saturday. The Pond Road Market in Mankato will have their March Sale this weekend, with hours from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Christy’s Crystals will have yet another Psychic Saturday with healers and readers available in store, as well as their impressive collection of stones, crystals, jewelry, and more. Christy’s Crystals will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

It’s Spring Fling at the Circle Inn in Mankato! Stop in from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for drinks and fun, with live music from Kaleb Schulz and Mal Murphy from 4-6 p.m. Come celebrate warmer days and new beginnings.

We could all use a laugh. Comedian Kevin Craft will be at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill in Kasota from 7-10 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-serve. This is an ADULT-only show with no cover charge.


It’s Wine Madness at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery! Daily winners are determined by glasses sold the previous day. Brackets can be turned in at the winery or sent in via email. They are available to download here. Turn it in by 7 p.m. on March 21st to play.

The Mankato Symphony Orchestra presents “The Archduke.” This virtual concert will feature the entirety of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio, Op. 97, also known as the Archduke Trio. Concertmaster and violinist Steven Copes and pianist Timothy Lovelace will join Hill Artistic Director Richard Belcher for this performance. The show will be available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra website beginning at 4 p.m.

Bonus: Enduring Happiness

According to researchers, the most rewarding and powerful voluntary actions are those that involve helping others. The decision to eat your favorite meal will give you a short-term burst of happiness, but if you want something a little more enduring, share that meal with someone you love, or even better, share it with those in need. Anne Frank was quite right when she wrote, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Giving is truly the best way to become rich in happiness.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.