Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thus happiness is a gift ...

By Susanne, Spirochicks contributor

Last night we watched Nicholas Nickelby (2002) based on the novel by Charles Dickens. I was so moved by this summation of the story I had to share it. 

"No matter how full or empty one’s purse there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfills. Thus happiness is a gift. And the trick is not to expect it but delight in it when it comes.  And to share in other people’s store of it."

I think it's easy to forget that in centuries past, hardship was the norm. And it still is the norm in many countries outside our own. We've come to expect the good life: health, wealth, and happiness. I LOVE this quote because it is a reminder that life IS hard. So you better revel in those moments when happiness passes by. It is often easy for me to indulge in life's hardships and over focus on the have not's. But to expect hardship and view happiness as a gift puts an entirely different perspective on life, one that is not mainstream in our culture.

I think "delighting in it when it comes" can take on many forms. For me it's reveling in a moment around the dinner table with my family and we're enjoying some anecdote from the day. Sometimes it's on a long car drive and we share some common experience. Sometimes happiness comes at the expense of tragedy. Like when we hit a dear on the highway and no one was hurt, but we had to have our car towed 150 miles home. I could revel in the fact we were all okay. And we shared a few chuckles at how many husband responded to the shock of hitting a deer who literally jumped into us. 

Happiness is often a flash in a moment of my day amidst the challenges of living. Learning to delight in these moments expands my view of happiness. And sharing in these moments with others creates the same sort of expansive happiness. I was born a pessimist. But learning to view happiness as a gift has produced a more authentic joy amidst the challenges of living life with chronic illness and all the typical other hardships of life.


Alix said...

Hi Susanne,
That is neat to see how Dickens described basically what living in the present moment means, but it's so much more as the quote implies. I was on a boat in Maui last week and the crew was so happy and fun and welcoming, it was indeed a true "delight" and I would have used that word before reading your quote!

BTW, hitting a deer might be a tragedy for life lost.... but one less carrier of Lyme (assuming deer though many are asymptomatic can pass infected blood to uninfected ticks) is not necessarily a loss to the Lyme community.

Kim said...

Always good to remember the gratitude.

keith (themadchemist) said...

Hello Susanne

a VERY wise elderly man told me when I was about 17 (46 now), a very true statement that I have tried to live with as I've made my pilgrimage through life.

"Happiness is a state of mind. Only you prevent happiness, not your circumstance."

Its hard when in pain to be happy.
I just tell myself,

Another one just bit the dust

8 )