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Making Summer Special: The Week 7 Winner of Our Summer Reading Contest

Aaron Kim, 16, from Tacoma, Wash., chose an article from the Well section headlined “How to Make a Staycation Feel Like an Actual Break” and wrote:

It’s late July already. But, for so much of the summer, it felt like it had not even started. Each day of my break had been so much like the previous one — getting up at 9 a.m., working on college apps until 5 p.m., and then playing video games until sleep took me — it was as if there had been no summer at all, no time passing in a living world.

This is one of my last summers as a high schooler. I could not help but ask myself: What, if anything, could be done to make it special?

Reading Catherine Pearson’s article made me realize that the answer was right in front of me. She cites Dr. Lyubomirsky’s concept of the “three buckets” of happiness (social connections, meaningful contributions and personal growth) to recommend prioritizing activities in and around one’s immediate surroundings that fulfill one or more of these categories.

This weekend, I volunteered at my local church’s food drive. Never in the past would I have associated such activity with anything like a vacation. But I endeavored to think of it as one, enacting the “mental flip” Dr. Kurtz describes. And I did so not only to meaningfully connect with other volunteers and the people we served, but also in order to spend my time engaged in something that mattered to me. For the first time this summer, I felt alive. And yet so great a part of that vivacity came from the simple conviction that what I was doing was an end in itself, like going to the beach on vacation.


In alphabetical order by the writer’s first name.

Angelina W. on “China Took Her Husband. She Was Left to Uncover His Secret Cause”

Brian on “Why Do Mosquitoes Like Me So Much?”

Hannah W. on “The True Threat of Artificial Intelligence”

Michelle L. on “Women in Taiwan Are Tired of Being Nice”

Minseok C. “Even ‘Safe’ Places Are Experiencing Climate Chaos in America”

Alice Z. on “Goodbye, Old Friend”

Andrew on “During My Divorce, Close Friends Became a Parachute”

Avianna R. on “Student Cannot Wear Sash of Mexican and U.S. Flags at Graduation, Judge Rules”

Daisy L. on “A Long, Shining River of Verse, Flowing From a Rower and Writer”

Ethan Z. on “I Love You, Now Leave Me Alone: What Friendship Means to an Introvert”

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