Right now I am happy. And I truly believe that when I feel it, I should say it. It compounds the feeling and makes it twice as strong. Writing it down makes it even stronger. That is why gratitude journals work. If you’re happy and you know it, write it down.
My parents gave this to me. They never, not once, asked asked us if we were happy. But they often, out of nowhere, would say it. “I am happy.” There was a call and response that was uniquely theirs. I am happy, one would say, and the other would answer with one of these interchangeable phrases: It doesn’t get better than this. It’s good to be alive. Life is rich. I am better than I know how. They, each in their own way, lived this to the very last and the legacy runs deep.
They only said it if it was real. They said it in the shadow of the great pyramids, when drinking cider on the Rhine, over cocktails on a rooftop in Rome. But they also said it at the breakfast table when the marmalade was good; when cracking crabs on a screened porch; when the needle dropped on a great song; or when one of us made them laugh.
Fake happiness was for other people and other feelings were not to be discussed. “I’m bored,” I said once and only once. “There is nothing more boring than a bored child,” my mother responded. And she went on to recite Robert Louis Stevenson: “The world is so full of a number of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as kings; .” My parents worried about our well being (sometimes more than others) and curated life in the most amazing way. But finding and identifying happiness was our job.
They were not happy all the time. Misery did not skip our house. While happiness could burst through any veil of gloom, it could not be controlled or put upon to stay for one more cup of this or glass of that. Happiness came and went… and always came back. When it did, no matter how fleetingly, it was greeted and named.
Long ago, I was on a walk with my boys in the woods. One of them looked up at me with an earnest yet joyful smile. ‘Mommy,” he said, “I’m in an ‘I love life’ mood.” Without intending to, I’d passed on one of the most most important gifts that was given to me: the ability to name happiness boldly, unselfconsciously, and without apology.
You don’t lose empathy points for moments of happiness in a crisis and you don’t gain empathy points for being gloomy. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another— all of the feelings. So if happiness shows up at your door during a global pandemic, invite her in. Name her. Greet her. Welcome her. She’s here to help.
Your writing, your words, your perspective…they soothe my soul. I’m glad you wrote today and I’m glad you shared it on SOS Magic. You are special and your stories are sacred.
Yes, here is to happy…naming it and claiming it. I’ve been thinking a lot about the tension between happy + hard. They co-exist and this is a very good thing.
WOW! The post is lovely, but the end, the end is simply spectacular. Thank you for that reminder and affirmation. I was just talking with someone about that yesterday — a feeling like I shouldn’t be happy and ok during the pandemic. But the truth is, when it come embrace, when it doesn’t come, look for it a bit, and expect it.
You have created a piece that captures the heart. “Name happiness boldly, unselfconsciously, and without apology” – a powerful gift indeed. And a rare one I would say.
This may be the best thing I have read today: “So if happiness shows up at your door during a global pandemic, invite her in. Name her. Greet her. Welcome her. She’s here to help.”
I love this perspective and want to hold onto this for a while!
Hello from one Annie to another! Ruth recommended your words to me. I’m so glad! There is such joy in a piece about happiness! But what sticks with me is this: “You don’t lose empathy points for moments of happiness in a crisis and you don’t gain empathy points for being gloomy.“ This is something I really want to sit with. Also, the idea of naming and greeting happiness as it arrives. To do this, you must be awake, yes? I want to be awake enough to greet and name joy as it arrives.
Mmmm, this was so beautifully written. I found myself saying, “Yes!” at the end of every paragraph. I love how you have passed this gift down to your own child and how you show the importance of naming happiness. I need to be better at that.
I have read your blog for years, and I know I am in for a treat every time I see a post from Write Now. Write Here. Happiness is crucial for living a full life. What a blessing your parents were to give you this kind of life and outlook. I hope you continue to post each week.
A lovely piece about a gift your parents gave you and one you’ve passed along too. And your final words: “So if happiness shows up at your door during a global pandemic, invite her in. Name her. Greet her. Welcome her. She’s here to help.” What a lovely way to view her. Thanks for your words.
YES!!! Cheering Positive Parents. I share with you good fortune to have parents with a positive view of life…and that was passed on to their kids… and you did the same for your kids… thank you for reminding us to appreciate “happy” “joy” “gratitude”
Annie, I love this. You just walked your mom through my kitchen and left me with happy memories and damp eyes. Love you. /m