Aside

How to be happy

I’m just back from a weekend at Champneys. I’m not sure why I cringe a little when I write that. Champneys is my (now not so) secret indulgence. Every few years when it feels like I’m at another junction, it has become the place that I go to escape. On my own. I am more used to avoiding me-time than craving it.

Anyway.

For the last three days I have alternated between gym and sun-lounger, tiring myself out equally with sun and exercise. It is nice to let my brain switch onto a different track for a bit. To move from thinking thinking thinking to the distinctly different states of doing or not-doing.

In between the doing and not-doing, I have been wondering about happiness. Again. I know it is a much sought after thing and I also know that when it becomes a search, the effort is often futile.

I read a précis of ‘The Writing Life’ on Brainpicker a while back. Author Annie Dillard is quoted: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It is one of those lines that I have absorbed, without really noticing, until it bubbles to the surface again. I know, of course, that a life spent doing nice things doesn’t guarantee happiness or even equal a recipe for it and yet –

It hit me in the Sunday morning zumba class that perhaps it’s not all that complicated. Perhaps the route to happiness isn’t found in deep meaning or introspection but in 45 minutes spent dancing to tunes that demand dancing. That maybe it’s as simple as working out what you like doing and doing it. Happiness isn’t, after all, this big mystery but just a morning spent lying in the sun.

Is that shallow?

Maybe.

At the end of Popova’s review she again quotes Dillard with: “There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough.”

I wonder how that’s achieved. Dillard is looking specifically at a writer’s life and I realise that writing and zumba are poles apart but –

I do not think that doing the things you like doing is a bad strategy, at least in the short run. It seems far better than this endless soul-searching. I know that a life built on things is likely to tumble down or leave you hungry….but there’s something about being in the moment – and finding that special feeling in every moment – which I seem to be overlooking.

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