Alise Jarvis Knows Why Society Is Going about Happiness All Wrong

Personal Profile by Matthew Nakamura

A delicate chain embraces her neck, strung through a pendant resembling the Jewish word חי‎ (chai) or “life.” Yet, the necklace is not merely a physical reminder. It is with life that Alise clothes herself every day. It is happiness that she has made her companion.

Landen Alise  Jarvis was born in Texas on Nov. 20, 1999. She and her family never left the Lone Star State. However, they moved to various places throughout her childhood and teenage years, whether it be Boerne, San Antonio, or elsewhere. According to Alise’ sister, Lauren, there “wasn’t necessarily a common pattern” between the moves, however some of them were definitely due to their parents’ jobs.

The Family

Mr. Jarvis, in particular, used to research molecular genetics, which led to him creating his own company. Nowadays, he’s working with Baylor University to commercialize the products put forth by its science department. Far from just serving as paychecks, Mr. Jarvis’ careers have always allowed him to help others, even if indirectly through his contributions to science.

Throughout her life, Alise has looked to her dad as a role model, both in his desire to help others and in his wisdom when it comes to the subject of spirituality. Alise, who grew up in a Christian household explained, “We have a lot of theological conversations in my family, which I really love. Just seeing him going up to his office every day and spending time with God every morning – seeing someone in front of me, actually doing it, has been really good.”

Aside from just her dad, Alise is close with her entire family, since they learned to stick tight with every relocation. Alise and Lauren were homeschooled by their mother as kids, and so found themselves side by side in pursuit of knowledge.

At night, they would stay up late into the night talking; their parents would often have to shout from downstairs to remind them to get sleep. During high school, they would find excuses to drive around and crank up the music; both of them love music and took piano lessons as kids.

The Family Line

Around age 13, Alise discovered that she had some Jewish ancestry. She and her family committed to learning about their heritage, things like traditional Jewish celebrations and traditions. This impacted her pretty significantly, influencing the ways she thought about and practiced her faith.

“Somehow, I had always kind of felt a little bit Jewish,” Alise reflected. “But it’s almost like making sure I take Shabbat and doing different celebrations and traditions helps me stay focused on God more than just “being a Christian” and doing church on Sundays.”

The Price of Happiness?

“Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms.” -Ariana Grande

As I interviewed this sophomore at Wheaton College, I could sense an air of lightness about her. Similarly, if you asked her sister, she’d tell you that her sister is “very bright and bubbly, always has a smile on her face, is very good at listening to other people and trying to understand them.” 

And yet, when I listened to the ways in which she described her life, they hardly lined up with the ways our American society would expect happiness to manifest itself. The narrative that mass media feeds us points to things like fame, accomplishment/recognition, and money; for example, in Ariana Grande’s hit song “7 Rings,” she sings, “happiness is the same price as red-bottoms (shoes).”

On the contrary, when pondering on her past, Alise exclaimed, “I’ve had such a tame life, haven’t I!” Even more intriguing, Alise hasn’t primarily focused on her own happiness throughout her life. Right now working on a nursing degree as well as dabbling in psychology, she wishes to eventually help children in some way or another.

As she considered other role models in her life, such as the famous missionary Heidi Baker, she decided that if she could do anything, “It would be really cool to go overseas and start an orphanage or be there to rescue kids who are in sex trafficking…to help the kids who can’t help themselves.” This is the dream of a woman who is humbly pursuing unselfish contentment.

Ups and Downs

Of course everyone has had their fair share of ups and downs in life. Alise worked through the causes and effects of fear as a young person. Later on, speech and debate would help her find confidence and a voice worthy of being heard. 

More recently, Alise struggled as a college freshman with feelings of extreme homesickness and loneliness. On top of that, there was the stress of a new academic environment. Being wrapped in joy does not mean that sadness is erased from the heart’s emotional vocabulary.

But if there’s one thing Alise Jarvis has convinced me of, it’s this: happiness looks a lot less like “the price of red-bottoms” and a lot more like being content to clothe yourself with “chai” each and every day – not in a self-centered pursuit of satisfaction, but to love others as we have been loved.