Monday, February 8, 2010

Do You Know What it Takes to Be Happy?

Penelope Trunk says the pursuit of happiness is vacuous, and that she would rather live an interesting life--which she defines as being interested--than be happy.  And this is a good thing, because she doesn't sound terribly happy but is what Texans endearingly called "a mess."  In this part of the world, being all over the place and doing things that aren't logical means you are a character, which is a big compliment here.  As much as I like to think I am interesting, her life is too chaotic to use as a model.  But her ideas--such as that a college education is a waste of money--are truly, truly interesting.  So I watch her posts.

Then there is Gretchen Rubin, who worked on a blog/book project called The Happiness Project.  She has a few rules that are compelling, too, including, "Act the Way You Want to Feel."  The cynics among you are already rolling your eyes, but some of what she extols (for example, that happy people aren't stupid, they just look at life differently, and they also provide a contagious good vibe where they work and play) makes sense and has helped me remember that life is short and being a bitter cynic makes me no fun. 

Then there is an article in the British Sunday Times about happiness.  That someone is writing about happiness in London in mid-February is admirable indeed, and the interviews provide a good contrast.  The French monk (look at his picture yourself, but I dig him big-time, self-described as celibate, of course) says the way to happiness is from the individual and is based in meditative life.  The British Peer, a man after my own heart through my convictions, says it's important to be active and engaged and to give often. 

The article's quote of Edith Wharton, however, provides my last word: "If only we stopped trying to be happy, we'd have a pretty good time."  What do you think makes us happy?  Do you think it's a worthwhile pursuit?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...happiness is a very personal choice and unique for each person. As such, it's hard to frame it into the context of "this is what makes us happy".

    I think satisfaction is the itty bitty nugget from which we derive all happiness. And satisfaction at the most personal level (with oneself) seems to be the one factor that determines LASTING happiness. Otherwise, it's largely experienced, and perceived, as a fleeting state of being to be pursued.

    So...my answer is that what makes us happy differs by individual, but lasting happiness probably has more to do with quiet satisfaction than anything else.

    And for more in-depth commentary on the state of happiness, I recommend renting Kids In the Hall's "Brain Candy"!

    --your bud Linda H.

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