I've got friends in high places. I am proud of the fact and I want you to know about it. Actually, they are my neighbors. They hold some of the highest positions in Connecticut. Believe me, they live higher than you do. It doesn't matter who you are.

Just this morning one of my neighbors came by to say hello. He usually stops by early in the morning to make sure I haven't left the house yet. He'll swing by and look in my window to see if I'm in the kitchen. I really don't mind because I know he's just being friendly, and friendliness is a large part of happiness. I'll open the door on my deck and say hello. He'll stop by and sit on the deck rail to take a look at me and see how I'm doing.

Since he stopped by to see me, I offer him a bite to eat. I toss him a peanut in the shell. He will swoop down and pick it up and take off with it. I know he is busy, so I leave him alone to do his thing as I get ready to go out. The only thing I know about him is that he is a tufted titmouse. We have a really good relationship, and I'm grateful for it.

For those of you hearing it for the first time, a tufted titmouse is a bird. It is a cute, friendly bird about 5 inches long. It has a gray color above and grayish white below, with reddish-buff flanks. They were very rare in New England prior to the 1950s. They have since made a great comeback. They were found only in southern Connecticut. Now they are found all the way up to Maine.

Dr. Wayne Dyer says: "Don't evaluate your life in terms of achievements. Instead, wake up and appreciate everything you encounter along your path. Enjoy the flowers that are there for your pleasure.

Tune in to the sunrise, the little children, the laughter, the rain, and the birds. Drink it all in ... there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way."

I was looking out the window and I saw one of my other neighbors, a black-capped chickadee. He is only 4 inches long, with a small gray body and whitish underside. He has a distinctive black cap on his head with white cheeks. He is absolutely the cutest, friendliest neighbor I have. His relatives live down in northern New Jersey, but you can find them all the way up to Alaska!

He was sitting on his tree in our back yard, looking at me. I got some crushed walnuts, one of his favorite foods, and went outside to say hello. He was very friendly, so we shook hands with each other. I put the walnuts in my right hand and held them out for him. He flew onto my hand and that's how we shook hands with each other. Of course, he took what was offered to him. The old saying about a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, is absolutely true. A bird in the hand is an incredible spiritual experience.

Birds will usually check you out for a long before they trust you enough to call you their friend. I guess our relationship, like any relationship, is based on trust, love, patience, kindness, knowing a lot about each other. Knowing what they like to eat, not yelling at them, and leaving them alone when they want their freedom. It's funny, although I don't really see my neighbors smile, I can tell you for sure that they are very happy. I am so glad I have friends in high places. They are too!

I wonder if the word "mankind" for the human race was meant to be the two words -- "Man" and "Kind" -- and were stuck together in order to form a description of ourselves. I'd like to think so! Kindness only costs peanuts a day. Try it. You'll have everyone eating out of your hand!

Lionel Ketchian is the founder of the Happiness Club, a Happiness coach, and can be reached at PrintLRK@aol.com. The website is www.HappinessClub.com.