H is for Hiatus.
It has been an action-packed spring, and I've made virtually no time during the past four months for writing beyond my Twitter updates and a relentless flurry of email. My artist mother-in-law, Cecelia Feld, created a piece of artwork titled "The Wall of Good Intentions" which is a phrase that comes to me often as I put my list of alphabetical blog topics back in the To Do pile without posting anything.
I have finally managed to carve out a block of time over this summer without obligations to anything other than my writing work. In addition to having large uninterrupted stretches of time to work on my novel and the non-fiction book Brad and I have barely begun (The Start-up Marriage: Balancing Entrepreneurship and Relationship), I'm now going to go back and fill in all of those letters in my year of living alphabetically.
And to pick up where I left off:
H is for Happiness --
Maybe I'm a simpleton, but happiness doesn't seem all that complicated to me -- not that I'm happy all the time or anything -- but it seems to me that we already know the answers to the happiness questions. It's like trying to lose weight; we all know how to do it (burn more calories than you eat), but the hard part is doing it. The fundamental conditions for happiness have been expounded on for millennia. I think the poets have a slight edge over the philosophers and psychologists .
Here's William Wordsworth:
The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers (1806)
Freud got something right for a change when he said that what we need is Love and Work.
And Maslow's hierarchy of needs covers a lot of territory, too.
One of my favorite blogs, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, is entirely about happiness. Check it out -- it's full of good happiness stuff. Her book isn't available until the end of December, but you can pre-order it here, like I did. Books and reading are a great source of happiness for me.
I've often thought that we might all be fountains of happiness and peace and compassion if we had been raised our entire lives to believe that we were the incarnation of the Buddha like the Dalai Lama.
For me, happiness comes from purposeful work, taking care of my fortunately excellent health, writing in a room of my own, friendships and connection, and my marriage.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on this earth.
Late Fragment by Raymond Carver, from A New Path to the Waterfall, copyright (c) 1989