Being happy as defiance

I’m well aware that, writing a book about how to be happy, I’m likely to come in for a certain amount of stick from certain quarters. Hey, even my internal critic has a go at me sometimes, What the hell do you know, sitting in your ivory tower while the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket. Grow up!

Apart from the context, that I have been – was – depressed for many years and found a way to claw out of that; Apart from the realisation that writers write about things so that they can understand them, and in that sense, happiness and the achievement of it deserves as much attention as any other subject we can write about, there is a more basic point running through all this.

Happiness Matters, because so often, people are anxious to deprive us of it. And in their attempts, they so often succeed. They succeed, until, one day, we decide that Actually, No, I AM going to be happy, because, I may be stuck in the social, emotional and psychological equivalent of a Gordian knot, but I defy anyone to take away my right to be kind, caring and loving, and to enjoy my life.

It is only when the chips are down and we are facing our nemesis – okay, now I know that this person doesn’t care how much damage s/he inflicts, now I see that; now I know s/he doesn’t care if I live or die, that s/he is quite calm facing the prospect of my demise – or more seriously, causing the death of a close family member I can’t get to, perhaps – it is only now that I truly understand why my brother insisted that we be happy, as we watched his struggle with cancer. To transcend suffering means to defy it to turn us ugly. Even as we cry and worry and wish things could be different, we have the power to enjoy.

In difficult circumstances, gentleness and being joyful and loving are our true gifts, the only things we may have to offer in a horrible situation; and the only way we will ever claw back enough energy to smile again, to keep going forward, and to enjoy life, appreciating the gifts offered by blameless, generous, kind-hearted souls who know nothing of our torment.

We would no more allow someone to savage a painting with a knife, than we would wish to weep and rant and go ever so slightly crazy in the midst of a maddening situation. Happiness is a prize worth protecting, and fighting for. Because happiness really does matter.

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