When my Elder son was very small, and was trying to figure out facial expressions, he would ask me, or my husband, or the lady at the grocery store, “Are you ‘appy?”
He was missing his h’s for a little while.
Sometimes my husband and I will still tease each other with that. He’ll see me looking pensive and ask “are you ‘appy?”
It’s a sweet question, and it always makes me smile, for the warm memories of my son at such a young age. But sometimes I wonder if, rather than asking people if they’re happy, we shouldn’t ask them, “are you grateful?” Because joy, or ‘appiness, I am convinced, comes from a capacity to actually see the good things in one’s life, and acknowledge them as good, and then be thankful.
Gratitude that one is employed; gratitude that one can walk across a room, unassisted. Gratitude for the senses. Gratitude for love, where we find it.
Are you ‘appy?
The question can be deceptive; it seems simple, but becomes complicated when one is forced to consider it, head-on.
In a very interesting look back at 1968 (thanks to reader Debbie L!) two Catholic sisters (by their habits I would guess they are Adrian Dominicans) — Sister Marie Arné and Sister Mary Campion of St. Denis Parish in Chicago — participated in a documentary in which they were given a microphone and told to wade out into the crowds of Chicago to ask people (who, perhaps would feel less threatened by a nun with a mic) the simple/complex question, “Are you happy?”
A good question. Are you happy? If you are, why? And if you are not, what might make you happy? And how much of what you are feeling — happy, or unhappy — is related to how aware you are of the blessings you have in your life.
Or do you feel you have no blessings, at all?
Coming at happiness from other perspectives, don’t miss Marcia Morrissey writing on Walnuts and Rice and how they relate to your every day, and Joseph Susanka’s look at what guilt and death have in common and what makes us to rise, again.
Life can be hard, disappointing, full of struggles. But Abraham Lincoln supposedly said that most folks are “as happy as they make up their minds to be” and to an extent, I endorse that.
A true awareness of the good things in your life however small, and a sincere gratitude for those good things — and the other awareness, of what you can and cannot change — it all plays into the happiness equation. It all makes a difference.