Lennon on Happiness

That John Lennon quote to the left is famous, but I’m on the teacher’s side.  I think a goal to “be happy” is like a goal to be “well-fed.”  It’s a goal, true, but it’s unattainable without action, so how are you going to get there?  And “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is a perfectly good action goal, although a dumb question to ask children; that’s a question to ask adults, most of whom haven’t completely grown up (aka dropped dead) yet.  (Also, he really did not understand the question.)

Sometimes happiness just happens–the sun breaks suddenly through the clouds and stops us in our tracks with the beauty of the world, somebody we love laughs in joy and delight, we’re transfixed by a moment of absolute peace–but more often, happiness comes about because of something we did, something we made, something we caused to happen.  What I’m saying is that “I want to be happy when I grow up” is the equivalent of “I don’t want to be poked in the eye with a sharp stick when I grow up.”  EVERYBODY wants to be happy.  How are you going to get there?

So what did you do to be happy this week?  And as long as we’re talking, what do you want to be when you grow up?

(Also, my mother is 92 today.  Happy birthday, Jo, and thanks for those tough-as-an-old-boot genes!)


64 thoughts on “Lennon on Happiness

  1. Happy birthday, Jo!

    What did you do to be happy? is a good question and one I struggle with. I tend towards inertia.

    I’m trying to spend less time on social media (Instagram maybe and definitely Twitter, I already kicked Facebook) because I know I feel more content without them. They give me a quick adrenaline hit, but then I’m restless afterward. And I think for me it is in an all or nothing thing, unfortunately. Like some people can’t have one potato chip , I can’t spend “just a few minutes” on social media.

    The good news is 1) I’m trying to fill my downtime with reading. 2) I planted sunflowers and zinnias yesterday. 3) I made cookie dough for oversized chocolate chip cookies and I’m very excited to try it out. The NYT recipe by David Leite with giant chocolate chips. My stomach is growling thinking of it.

  2. I went to my first writer’s convention this weekend. It’s a rather small group of romance writers (about 220 members, 60 of which were present) and I had expected to feel rather unimportant and pathetic because I don’t have huge sales figures and honors like “bestselling author” under my belt. Instead, I found a very inspiring group and I felt so motivated that I worked at my current manuscript until 2 a.m.

    Also, two of my three children are here at the moment (plus my son-in-law) because it’s my daughter’s birthday. So, lots of reasons to be happy.

    1. This applies to Jenny and all those others in this conversation. I want to thank you for writing books. The genre doesn’t matter although – perhaps unusually for a man – I have always enjoyed romance; from about age 11 with, I recall, Girl of the Limberlost. Without you and all the others taking your courage in both hands and putting the first words down, I would never have had the enormous pleasure of book reading. That it is hard at times I know. As a long time research consultant I found final reports tough enough. To create a whole world and people it with interesting characters and a story to tell; I think it a “blessed” profession.

  3. On Friday I managed to walk to one of our favourite spots in the UK Lake District. We haven’t been since my cancer diagnosis in 2015. This was mainly because I was diagnosed at stage 4 and recovery has been a long slow process involving an initial 3 month hospital stay and chemotherapy. But now with stamina slowly returning and with the aid of my walking stick and the support of my DH we made it along the single track path and I watched and listened to the water tumbling down and to the birds singing and looked out onto one of the most beautiful lakes. Sadly the red squirrels were hiding from us. It’s the little things in life that make you happy, a smile on a child’s face, being with your family and the realisation that the support and care you receive is because you are loved.

    1. I am so pleased you are doing well.

      In the US I cannot think of any way insurance or Medicare or Medicaid would pay for a 3 month hospital stay. Unless you were in intensive care, you would be farmed out to a care facility after 20 days, maybe sooner depending on your insurance package. And while a lot of convalescent care facilities are good, they are not the equivalent of a hospital.

      See. Another reason to be happy. You are in the UK and have better medical coverage.

  4. I have pretty much been partying it up for Birthday Week since oh, last Saturday. Theater shows, several storytelling events, it’s been busy! Then I have Scottish Games today.

  5. Happiness is well family, good friends, feeling healthy, and tasty food.

    I had most of that this long weekend. The folks are ok, I saw two of my besties when we went for Infinity War, I did a 5k Parkrun, and I have given up sugar.

    I did the last one before, but it didn’t stick because of the depression. Now that I’ve been on meds for four months I feel like I can do it. There’s nothing but benefits for me such as, sharper mind, balanced energy, clearer skin, and more. Having had those previously, I want it again!

  6. I went to New Orleans for a work (volunteer) meeting this past week, but I pushed myself to see some sights and just enjoy the experience, which made me happy. (We ate All The Foods, and there’s a lot of them in New Orleans!) I came back from the trip feeling more optimistic about my volunteer work than I have in years!

    Also, playing with kittens. Well, not quite yet. Too young to be handled, and momcat would probably bite my hand off if I tried. But standing there laughing at their antics and saying soothing nonsense to momcat is good. Took a video of them crawling around last night and now I need to figure out how to post it on Instagram.

  7. I managed to post two photographs (last week I missed out Instagram). I watched ‘Sunshine on Leith’ again, which made me smile. I worked out which seeds to sow this week – I’m gambling on moving by June. And if not, I’m sure I can find homes for the seedlings. And I’m rethinking my design ideas for the new garden, now I know the fences are a foot shorter than expected.

    When I grow up, I want to be a productive creative: making images and telling stories that delight me.

    1. PS. Bluebells. My favourite. Just walked round the hillfort and the ramparts are covered with them, just starting to flower, so at their most intense indigo. I got faint wafts of scent despite the cold – there’s something amazingly calming about the scent of bluebells. I could really do with a bottle of it.

    2. I like that movie. To me the take home message was that there’s joy and value in a ‘regular’ life, lived well and with love.

  8. This was a good week for happy for me. We dropped my car off at a dealer to sell and the weird swelling on my senior dog’s face turned out to be just a weird allergic reaction. Sixty bucks for the vet and some generic Benadryl and he was good as new.

    Tall Boy and I spent Friday working outside and getting some spring chores done and then yesterday we went to Edmonton to see Infinity War (which was amazing) and today we are doing inside spring cleaning.

    We have had wonderful warm weather and most of the snow is gone and that makes me very, very happy.

    1. I was in Edmonton on the weekend. Beautiful weather on Saturday. I spent the most of it in Home Depot buying materials for the Reno to the duplex in the Arctic. Decided to do install the same flooring throughout the unit. Found a lovely silver oak waterproof flooring. And paint and butcher block countertops which made me very happy. It is going to be everything or close to what we wanted to do for mother in law, but she wouldn’t let us. Heading up to open the storage trailer which has not been opened in years. It will be like opening up a tomb. What will we find? Hopefully the parkas she made for my husband when he was a baby. She made beautiful parkas. Hopefully!

      1. My parents ended up overseas for 13 years. When they came back for the storage unit, they found their Commodore 64.

  9. I rode my bike to work every day this week – it’s a 20 min ride through residential neighbourhoods and I arrive at work in a happy state of mind, no matter the weather. The snow is finally gone and there’s lots happening in my garden – no tulips yet but the backyard is covered in a carpet of bluebells. Although it was a crazy work at week (short-staffed, urgent/last minute requests), I kept reminding myself that by Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be sitting on a beach in the Dominican. Beach + ocean = happiness.

    When I grow up, I want to something creative everyday (writing memos doesn’t count).

  10. Glad to be home after a successful show. Less thrilled to have a cold or something, but it also makes me thankful that I am so seldom sick.

    I think I’m siding with John on this one. I want to do something that allows me to feel productive and satisfied and makes me enough money to live. Customer service for years, administrative assistant for years, office manager for years. I’m not fussy about the what so much as the feel – which is how I ended up in the office supply world for 16years; believe me, this is not something one plans as a child.
    My boss is making noises about wrapping up her business sooner than the original plan, which may mean I may need at least a part time job before I can afford to retire, and i seriously think I might like to work at the locally owned grocery store. Or the coffee shop. Or whatever. I’m not fussy about the specifics, as long as I feel that something worthwhile is getting accomplished.

    What I really want to do when I grow up is sing on key, and I have come to believe divine intervention would be necessary, so I am planning that one for next life time instead.

    1. Have you considered looking into the nonprofit world? There are LOTS of small patient advocacy organizations, and I’m always seeing ads for executive directors and admin assistants, some of it on-site, some of it virtual. The pay isn’t great, but it’s work you can be proud of and feel like you’re really doing something worthwhile.

  11. This brings up a very happy memory. The best thing I’ve ever heard from passersby in front of my house. Adult voice: And what do YOU want to be when you grow up?
    Preschooler voice: A frog!

  12. I found out that I got a job I applied for (communications associate at a theater within walking distance from my apartment). So I formally accepted and put in my two weeks notice at my current job, which was hard, because there are so many things I love about it, but there isn’t really any room for me to grow in that position, and there have been some management decisions that broke my trust.

    So yeah. I start a new job in three weeks that I’m really excited for! Also today I’m doing breakfast with my little sister, which is good for her and me. And yesterday I did the patient work of spending two hours at the apple store asking dumb questions so now I can have a functioning computer.

    Also I got to look at my cousin try on wedding dresses, which, wow. Some of my close friends have gotten married already, but this is the first time I’ve watched someone I’ve known since we were little try on wedding dresses, and I had all the happy awestruck feels.

  13. For the third scan in a row, the bits they thought were the cancer returning haven’t changed, so they are opening the possibility that the bits are something else, like scar tissue. That made me very happy.

    I travel out of state for my scans and we have made such wonderful friends there. People who welcome us back every quarter, opening their homes and lives to us. Our personal cheering section. They are such a gift and a source of great happiness and joy.

  14. Happiness dropped into my lap when a BFF from high school showed up on my doorstep on Friday and we spent two days visiting as if we’d just seen each other yesterday, not 16 years ago. So, I didn’t do anything to make that happen, except be smart enough as a teenager to recognize a really good friend when I saw her.

    More actively, I planted my container garden and now my deck is in full gorgeous bloom. I get a hit of joy whenever I look out the window.

  15. This has been a great gardening week: painted the fiberglass planter black and filled them with bronze-leaved cannas, and planted two big ceramic planters too. Attacked the mold on the tile deck and actually got it off. Now I am ready to deadhead the tulips and daffodils which are over. That is more being pleased then happy.

    Happy is that my cat Aubrey, who has something serious wrong with his liver and has been slowly going down hill, started purring at me on Wednesday and has been better ever since. Even though he had not purred for two weeks previously. And he seems to actually be getting stronger. And he wants to be cuddled again. Two weeks ago I really did not think he would make it to this weekend. And now I am thinking if this keeps up for another few weeks, maybe we can start cutting back on his meds.

  16. I belong to a private group and we have a list of birthdays, and I thought about doing that here, but since this isn’t private, I think it’s dangerous to put that detail up, even if you don’t post the year you were born. So no on that. But if you’d like to give us a head’s up (“My birthday’s tomorrow”) so we could congratulate you on your day (or on any other day you’d like celebrated), just put it in the comments. We’ll take it from there.

    1. My birthday was yesterday, then 🙂

      My happiness was celebrating it with my witchy group (which is basically three of my best friends). Okay, we were really celebrating Beltane (May Day), but also my birthday, and the happiest parts were that we got to go to my friend Robin’s house (she moved about 45 minutes away many years ago, and we rarely get to hang out anymore), AND she and 11 year old Sophie wrote and put on the ritual (which meant that, for a rare time, I got to just relax and enjoy it), AND we got to have our usual lovely feast (with her hubby and son Nate joining in for that bit) which included a homemade honey cake topped with lavender and rose petals for my birthday cake, AND the rain held off until we were heading home. It was lovely.

      1. Mine was yesterday, too! 🙂

        Happy belated birthday, Debora! Sounds like yo had a wonderful day.

        What made me happy this week were all the birthday greetings I received via Twitter, whatsapp, message and FB (I don’t use it, but people sent their congratulations to my mum who forwarded them to me). I felt so blessed to have so many friends and caring people in my life. Especially right now when the going is hard.

      2. Happy birthday, Deborah and Shass!

        Deborah, I see you name pop up now and again on Tawna Fenske’s feed 🙂 Always good to see a friendly face/name in the wilds of the internet.

  17. It’s been spring here off and on this week, so I did my favorite springtime happy thing–I took pictures of flowers and posted them to Instagram and Facebook.

    I also went to my grandkids’ Grandfriends’ Day at their Montessori School and they showed me their lesson plans and I thought how lucky they are to go to a school where learning, even the stuff they don’t love, is taught as a pleasure and not a grueling task. Because sometimes the thing that makes us the most happy is knowing the people we love are happy.

  18. My mother-in-law once asked everybody, what would you change about your life if money were no object?

    I thought about it, and was pleased to discover that the answer was “very little.” I think I decided I’d take a sabbatical to do an MFA in creative writing, and perhaps teach part-time instead of full-time (which would probably just mean working only 40 hours a week). But I really love what I do and love to be busy!

    I’d probably also buy a few stupidly overpriced items of clothing from time to time, but other than that…

    Happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have, right? And I’m blessed with good health, a living family, meaningful work, a comfortable (if cluttered) home…

    When I grow up, I think the answer is the same: teaching and writing, maybe some art. Connecting with people through words and images.

    And to get rid of these damn ants!! The infestation has abated but they still occasionally crawl across my foot if I’ve been, say, sitting still and typing….

    1. ANTS. We get big black ones every spring – just three or four at a time, in the oddest places. We smoosh them and a bit later find three or four more. I’m grateful I don’t have an Alexa or smart TV to hear me say, “I’m so sorry, but you know the rules. If you come inside, I have to kill you.”

  19. In an attempt to learn the use of my cell phone as camera, I snapped a rose photo and posted on Facebook and asked for advice. Already received one helpful bit, use of an app for in tight and up close shots.
    Spur of the moment ticket buy for “Noises Off” at a playhouse we can walk to, and the hilarious second and third acts are worth the slow buildup of the first. Further humor: my friend envied our ability to “stroll” to the theater versus her longer drive. Oh, honey, you sure don’t know our life, particularly Friday night. We do stroll on vacation, however.
    At the native plant sale, scored some luscious aloes. Made a new best friend, a top-rank landscape designer, and she gave us design tips. If only we were the kind of folks she designs for, but we’re different breed of gardeners. Still, new friend! Well, until she visits our yard.

  20. Happy: I played with paints and produced something cheerful. Still thinking about how to care for my time, so that I include more playing.

    I am what I thought I’d be when I grew up – someone who sits at home and writes–except when I was little I thought I’d be pounding on my typewriter to produce the next Nancy Drew, not banging on my computer keyboard to produce website copy about municipal pumps.

    1. Yes! Always thought I’d be a writer when I grew up. Did not think I’d be writing software user documntation. 😊

  21. Happy bithday to you mom, Jenny.

    (I thought I had noticed a few years back our moms shared a birthday.)

    Mom left us in February, so all we could do today with drink to her memory.

  22. I think happiness is a day-by-day thing. In fact it can be a minute-by-minute thing – you really have to grab it whenever it’s there. The trick is, I think, being able to recognize happiness for what it is when it happens. I think we often get stuck seeing only the negative things in our lives. It’s so much easier to see those, and much easier to remember them. I’m sure there’s a scientific study about that somewhere, perhaps about how it’s a survival mechanism so that we don’t get eaten by saber tooth tigers or something. I don’t think we’re genetically predisposed to be happy, just to survive. I think it’s proof of our enlightenment that we’re capable of happiness, and certainly to seek it out and develop plans for attaining it. I think I just digressed all over the place.
    Back on target! So when I see people who can comment on their happiness and share it with others, that just makes me feel good. Happiness is contagious that way.
    As for me, I had a delightful weekend involving a geek convention and my geeky friends. To top it all off, I wrote 8,000 words tonight on my first romance novel. That makes me pretty happy.

  23. On Saturday I went to my son’s acapella concert. He looked so happy and sang so well it just made my heart swell. (This is the son that has in past been suicidal and is dealing with a ton of stress – so it was especially happy-making to see him doing so well.)

    I also altered two out of three prom dresses, and the smiles on the faces of those girls were magnificent. Doing something for someone else, especially if it’s something they cannot do themselves often makes me happy.

  24. When I grow up I always wanted to write books, alas not yet. I have written short stories. I have been creating beautiful things though. Made almost all most own clothes for years, lots of Vogue patterns which I still have. So I have been creative just another form. And I’m painting again. Helped a friend by editing her book which got me thinking and excited about writing a non fiction book. So maybe there is a book coming soon.

    Happy belated birthday, Jo.

  25. This past week was a pretty rough week, a few ups and lots of downs, but there were some definitively happy moments:

    -planting more herbs and seeds in the gardens
    -taking mom to the quilt shop and finding her a mother’s day gift
    -going to the local uni’s dance performance, and inviting a friend who’s had it rough– it was great to not only spend time with him but also to compare notes on what we got out of the performances
    -sitting in the grass listening to a woman play music about Madrid on her guitar
    -catching up with my brother with a few drinks and some adventurous dinner (waffles made of mac’n’cheese are not my fave, but I’m glad to have tried it)
    -the memorial service for a dear old man at church wasn’t exactly happy (especially as it was the third in as many months) but I was glad to honor him and comfort his family by singing in the choir, and I’m grateful to have known him as long as I did. Especially considering he was 94 and apparently had congestive heart failure since 2002, I am lucky and blessed to have known him at all…

    And, in the spirit of what I want to be when I grow up:
    -I got accepted into the graduate program for Speech-Language Pathology~! Honestly, I was so far down the waiting list that I’ve been more stunned than excited (with a heaping side of “how the heck will I pay for it”) but this is definitely a Good Thing. It’ll be tough and demanding, but it’s almost the perfect intersection of my passions/talents (language/linguistics, teaching, and helping people in smaller groupings than a full classroom) and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Also, making this list has given me a good start on happiness for this week. 🙂 Thank you, Jenny, and happy birthday to your mom!

  26. Happiness is …
    Sharing really good bread and butter with your family
    Curling up with a cup of tea and a new book from a favourite author
    Finishing a UFO that has been in your project bag for 2 years
    Spending time with friends, that you don’t have to think twice about your words before you speak to them

  27. Happy: spent most of Saturday with a friend; planted some more flowers; went out dancing with the husband.

    What I want to be when I grow up: retired. 🙂

  28. Thanks for the birthday wishes! Made me happy, again! Thanks! <3

    Ever since the demon cursing-discussion and you guys Talking about The Good Place I've been very curious about that particular series. So yesterday I decided to check it out and woah. I've ploughed my way through the first season now and I absolutely forking loved it. Exactly what I needed right now. Have been smiling and laughing more today than the last 3 weeks put together. The only fly in the ointment is that the 2nd season isn't available at this point (not on Netflix in The Netherlands, anyway). So THANKS for mentioning it!

    And! I just discovered that if I use Firefox for reading here I CAN(!) actually heart the comments. That makes me happy, too. So yay for Firefox, hearts to all of you – and thumbs down for Internet Explorer.

  29. I had two wonderful friends come to visit. I almost never see them and it’s even rarer to see them together. They Corrugated the trip together. Best weekend ever!

  30. I have the job I want when I grow up—supporting people who lobby for kids—and it makes me happy every day. I was forced out of a similar job a decade ago so I never forget how lucky I am.
    I also went to a music house party for a Celtic folksong group and discovered two of the singers come from the town I grew up in. I went to the garden store unsupervised and came back with lots and lots (maybe 200? ) annuals. Our Korean cherries are in full bloom. And it’s the champagne mango season so I keep making sticky rice with mango.

  31. I was able to escape work for a few hours and enjoy a quilt retreat this weekend. I’m happy that the organizer of that retreat was feeling well enough to attend. She had been in the hospital the week before with acute liver failure due to hepatitis A. I also got to enjoy watching the new Trading Spaces since I was at a hotel with cable. Final happy has been the fact that spring has shown up and we’ve seen sunshine and warm weather.

    Not sure what I want to be when I grow up but I would like it to have meaning and purpose, perhaps to organize all the things. I enjoy organizing stuff.

  32. (-: I’m a little late, but here’s a happy: New Bujold Novella! This one isn’t in the Five Gods Universe, but rather in the Vorkosigan universe: “The Flowers of Vashnoi” (which was the nuked former capital of Vorkosigan district). Whee! https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/16734418-the-flowers-of-vashnoi-bloom-in-may

    Other: I finally got my daughter interested in some English-language TV. She doesn’t particularly like English, or TV dramas. But . . . we binged five episodes of Jane the Virgin, and I’m waiting until she comes home for the rest. LOL, I’m sure it’s all kinds of inappropriate, but she’s almost eighteen. Gosh, I love a telenovela. Maybe when I’m grown up, I can write soap operas.

  33. Yesterday, came across this bit in a recent story in her Five Gods series by Lois McMaster Bujold which seems apt for this conversation.
    ‘” Marry the sorcerer, dear” Des urged, “and put me out of his misery. He’ll be glad you did. If he is happy, I can be happy. And so can you”.
    And that was how it worked, wasn’t it ? Happiness handed around and around, never stopping. It wasn’t something one could hoard tight like a miser. That would be like trying to hold one’s breath for later.’


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