02 May 2009

Happiness is no Photo Op

Saw this at Thomas's place

If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden… He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar stud that has rolled under the dressing table."
~W. Beran Wolfe

I was thinking about this very point recently, about how happiness doesn't always look happy. I laugh about as much as anyone I know and am genuinely happy when I do, but I suspect that most of the time I'm happy I am not laughing or even smiling. I'm engaged.

I wonder if one reason we have trouble with happiness is that it doesn't always make for good photo ops, doesn't make for exciting scenes in a movie. So we holler and act reckless, not because it makes us happy but because this is what happy is supposed to look like. Actually, one of the few things that we do know about happiness is that it is unaware of its own image.

4 comments:

Ben said...

It seems to be nearly weekly that I read something you've written here and think you're about the smartest guy I know.

Couldn't agree more about real happiness.

Big Al said...

Spot on, Ron, spot on. Unfortunately, Hollywood has all too often set the tone for how we should be expected to properly show a feeling of happiness . . . humming or singing with a smile on our face whilst performing another function such as knitting or baking or cleaning the bathroom toilet . . . enthusiastically beaming with joy and laughing with a loud guffaw while tilling a field as we walk behind a non-mechanized plow being pulled by 2 draft horses.

We couldn't possibly be happy with furrowed brow, intent on the work at hand, could we? It just doesn't play well in Peoria or Portland or Pittsburgh.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Happiness, giddiness, and contentment. While they certainly overlap at times, so, too, do they have their own domian.

Gypsy at Heart said...

The nuances of happiness can have recognizable or unrecognizable (to the viewer) extremes. By the same token, they are either identifiably or unknowingly felt by those who experience the sensation. That to say that sometimes happiness can be obvious or cloaked.

Happiness is the kind of emotion that works in mysteriously tendriled, ever-changing ways. Who we are at any given point in time, gives personal definition to our happiness.

P.S. Ben is right on the money, you are one of the smart guys. And so is Thomas by the way. Deep thinkers the both of you with hidden rivers of happiness.