What Do You Want to Do when You’re Happy?

Once a week I compile the reflections I’ve offered on Facebook into one blogpost. Here are the thoughts from the past five days:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I’ve been thinking about happiness lately. My hypothesis is that we don’t engage in destructive behavior when we’re happy. We don’t say, “I’m so happy, I think I’ll go eat a pint of ice cream,” or “I’m so happy, I think I’ll drink a bottle of wine,” or “I’m so happy, I think I’ll watch some mindless television.”

I don’t mean to say that wine and ice cream and television can’t be a part of happiness. Just that when we are happy, we eat a serving of ice cream or drink a glass of wine with great pleasure and gratitude. We watch television or other forms of entertainment because it is deepening our souls rather than keeping us up on the surface of our lives.

I thought about happiness when I listened to a segment of the Ted radio hour about addiction. Johann Hari talks about how addicts stop using drugs when they are meaningfully connected to other people. When they are happy (in a deep sense of that word), they are healthy.

So if we find ourselves in a pattern of living that isn’t healthy, that brings us to the surface of our lives, that feels good temporarily but leaves us feeling icky afterwards, maybe the answer isn’t punishing ourselves for the behavior, but rather, looking for ways to connect, to deepen, to seek out a deeper and more sustaining source of happiness.

 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

We’ve just started reading A Wrinkle in Time again (in anticipation of the movie version coming out next week! Our first time through was three years ago, and the story of awkward Meg Murray and her little brother Charles Wallace and their adventures through time and space to save their father and save life as we know it doesn’t disappoint.

I suspect Ava Duvernay’s imagined visual world taken from this book and put on screen will not disappoint us either, and I suspect that having a multiracial cast (including Oprah Winfrey) will enhance and deepen our reading of the book. My imagination tends to go in directions that reinforce my own experience. This is a book that invites exploration and pushing beyond the bounds of personal experience, and a film that conveys the same plot and themes using unexpected characters can only help my imagination grow. (To read more about her vision and the imagination behind it).

I’m encouraged to encounter more and more ways–in literature, on screens, and even in advertisements–to expand the types of people who inhabit the stories we tell and therefore to expand the ways we tell them. We can imagine so much more for the real people in our lives when we have stories that aid us in that work.