I started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I have not gotten as far as I wanted to. I’ve been sick again: Bronchitis, sinus infection, and conjunctivitis. My eyes hurt and burned so badly, I was not able to read at all last week. It was a big bummer, but I concentrated on resting. Today, I finally feel a bit better.
The first part of the book is called Getting Started. Gretchen quotes Sidonie Gabrielle Colette on the second page. Colette said: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner. Gretchen indicates that this quote has haunted her for a long time. She writes: “I didn’t want to look back, at the end of my life or after some great catastrophe, and think, ‘How happy I used to be then, if only I realized it.” This concept is part of what spurred me to use this year for introspection and re-evaluation.
The second thought that stood out is on page six. What is happiness? There is never going to be a universal definition of happiness. Dictionary.com defines happiness as good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy. Each of those words will mean something different to the individual. For example, say you find out that a previously unknown relative passed on and left you a thriving business. One person may be thrilled. This is the opportunity they longed for and they are ridiculously happy at the prospect of running the business. Another person may think this is a nightmare in the making. They don’t want the responsibility and the thought of being chained to a business makes them sick. Good fortune to one, bad to another. The same can be said for pleasure; contentment; joy.
Gretchen quotes Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity was, “I know it when I see it.” Louis Armstrong said, “If you have to ask what Jazz is, you’ll never know.” Finally A. E. Housman wrote that he “could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat” but he “recognized the object by the symptoms it evokes.” At the end of the day, we all need to define happiness for ourselves.
I decided I want to define, not only happiness, but unhappiness as I perceptive them. Knowing triggers that cause me unhappiness might give me more insight into what brings happiness. It’s a thought anyway. That’s my assignment for the rest of the week. I’m going to build two lists: What makes me happy and what makes me unhappy. I am intrigued to compare the lists and see what trends I find.
My new favorite blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, sparked an additional list for this week. In her post from January 25, 2016, she invited her readers to ponder Things That are Saving My Life Right Now. Any of us who live in places where winter is brutal, often need to hold on to something that will help get us through. I’d never thought of making a list of the things that are holding me together during the bitter cold and snow. I’m looking forward to exploring my own list and reading others. February 1, 2016 is the day MMD will share her list and her readers will share their lists. You should stop by and participate.