Much has been written about happiness - what it is, how to find it, how to maintain it. It's something I often think about (even more so as I get older) and occasionally write about here. So a few posts on the topic caught my eye this week:
French philosopher Albert Camus was born 100 years ago Nov 7, and Maria Popova over at Brainpickings took the opportunity to reflect back on his writings. She notes that we have become so singularly focused on the pursuit of happiness that we often overlook the fact that "unhappiness can have its own dignity and can tell us as much, if not more, about who we are than happiness." Or, as Camus himself tried to convey, the notion that we can live with a dualism:
"I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come."
In a related post, Maria shares some great tips for finding your center as you try to integrate work and life, mind and spirit. Here's a snippet (and one I think is particularly important not only to creativity but to happiness in general):
#4 Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
This month also marks what would have been Kurt Vonnegut's 91st birthday, and Huffington Post published a post on what Vonnegut can teach us about life, gleaned from his novels (like the importance of laughter, kindness, and standing up for what you believe in). I like this one in particular:
Art can be therapeutic: Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
Lastly, there's an interesting discussion thread about What Has Life Taught You going on over on Quora. Check it out.
I think it's the end of the year that gets us thinking about this, as we take stock of their lives, consider what we're thankful for, and make plans for the new year.
What is it that makes you happy?
Related: Getting Off the Hedonic Treadmill (a timeless - and timely - post from 2005)