Happiness, All Over The World

The Washington Post did a book review recently that argued that Americans are doing happiness wrong (well, we have good reason) and that people in other countries know joy better than we do. And they recommend four books that will tell us how to do happy as well as the Japanese, British, Swedish and Koreans.

There is, for example, The Book of Ichigo Ichie, which tells us that “The moment is a jealous lover that demands we give it our all.” Oh, good, something else demanding something of me, just what I needed. Or there’s the British concept of coziness which, according to the article, is less elitist than hygge because it involves things like socks and baths. I don’t know when those became British, but I’m wearing socks right now–snowstorm outside–so I’m gonna take a flyer here and say that socks are international. (Mine say, “Fight Like a Girl,” so foot-warming AND heart-warming.). Then there’s The Little Book of Fika, which celebrates taking a moment to relax. So far, this is all stuff I’ve been doing, not realizing I was so damn internationally cosmopolitan, but then I got to The Power of Nunchi, and that was new. It’s the Korean practice (according to the book) of eye-assessing or, as the essay sums it up, “Pay attention.” Now there is something I should do more of. What it has to do with happiness, though, is beyond me.

I am not buying any of those books. That makes me happy. What made you happy this week?

(I typed that damn headline because it’s late and I just needed something and now I have “There’s a kind of hush . . . all over the world . . . tonight” stuck in my head, and it hasn’t been in there in decades. Damn Herman’s Hermits. And I know all the words, which is not hard because there are only about twelve. If you don’t count the “la la la”s. Which I don’t because the la-la-las make me want to kill somebody. I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS EARWORM.

94 thoughts on “Happiness, All Over The World

  1. Haha, I looooooove Herman’s Hermits. Especially Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. I find them something just kind of soothing and lovely about them.

    I get a little tired of all these books telling us how other countries do things better than the United States does. It’s not that I necessarily disagree! But there is always a lack of nuance. There was a popular one about raising children the French way which was very trendy when my first was born. The books and articles never talked in depth about how France has a totally different healthcare system and family leave policy. Hmm. . . Maybe that could be a big factor too. Parents who are less stressed about work and finances will be able to put more energy and patience into their parenting.

    Speaking of the first born, he is 11 today and we’re having a ice-skating party. It will be very small, but he will get to skate, which will make him happy. I will get to skate, which will make me happy. Younger one is having a friend tag along, so he will happy. Husband is just generally low maintenance and easy to please 🙂 so he will be happy too. A good way to spend a chilly January day.

  2. I just bought a new copy of The Four Agreements, which I read years ago and must have loaned to someone, since I can’t find my original copy. Unless I got it from the library, which is possible. It’s a book about wisdom, not happiness, but in theory if you can stick to these four tenets you will be happier. I’m actually pretty good on three: Always do your best, Be impeccable with your word, and Don’t make assumptions. (Okay, maybe not quite as much that one.) It’s the fourth one I have to reread and try and act on: Don’t take anything personally.

    It basically means that people do the things they do because of their own reality, and not because of you. And in most cases, that’s probably true. (See publishing for one major example. Being rejected doesn’t mean your writing isn’t good.) But it’s still tough not to take things personally. So I’m working on that one, and hoping it will make me happier.

    But my big happy this week is twofold. One I can’t talk about yet, but it is good news for my writing career. (WHEW) The second, which made me almost as happy as the first, was the news that Mama foster cat, Freya, who was a great mother and a really sweet cat, was finally adopted from the shelter and taken to her forever home. A forever home with no other cats, which is what she really needed. SO HAPPY about this. It has already been a pretty tough year, but getting two miracles within two hours on one day was pretty wonderful.

    1. Thanks for pointing out this book. Even if I won’t read it (there’s still so much waiting in my TBR pile, so I don’t know whether I’ll add it), it sounds like a very clearly defined structure of good advice. I know I’ll have to work on the assumption one and most certainly on the taking stuff personally, too.

    2. I still have my copy on my Keeper Shelf – thanks for reminding me. I remember when I first got it and simple it seemed, but hard to practice.

      Time for a re-read.☺

  3. I’m wading through a sea of belongings I don’t use, don’t need, don’t want, and trying to get them out the door. So much dust and physical effort. The goal is to downsize out of this gigantic house that we don’t need, into a smaller place. Our realtor calls it “right-sizing” except that the place of the right size and price has yet to materialize.

    She keeps telling us it’s a good time to sell, which we are coming to understand doesn’t also mean it’s a good time to buy. Yesterday I had the brainstorm of selling, then just renting for six months to a year, and seeing how the market is doing.

    Essentially, waiting for a market downturn, banking any money we make from this sale, and trying to add to this down payment money while we rent. Of course, renting is more expensive every month than owning in our area. And yet, if I tote up all we spend over the years on maintenance, repairs, and improvements, and divide it by the number of months we’ve lived her, the difference between these two figures is a lot less. But, of course, the theory goes that you turn a profit from home ownership, which is maybe true, depending on what happens when you sell.

    We are both ready to have a break from home ownership, which I realize is probably financially very stupid. But I just want to live in a clean, modern place, without having to worry about the next hailstorm damaging the roof, or having to update a bathroom or kitchen, or twice yearly maintenance chores, or whatever. Not having to deal with yard work. Not having to regularly arrange for sprinkler maintenance, furnace and evaporative cooler servicing, tree pruning, etc. Not having to climb up and empty gutters, or pay to have it done. Oops, the dryer broke, time to find a repair service or buy a new one.

    Is this a bad plan? Or is it a good one? I can’t decide and waffle back and forth.

    It’s so hard to know what to do, but I’m really feeling wiped out with home projects. They mostly fall on me to find people to come and give quotes, evaluate quotes, scheduled things, supervise the work, etc., because I work from home and my husband does not. At it’s very exhausting. Not to mention house cleaning. A friend suggested hiring a cleaning company… more money out the door every month, more time spent finding/evaluating/scheduling, etc.

    I feel like going back to renting is the polar opposite of conventional wisdom for two people who are mid- to late middle-aged. And it would mean significantly downsizing even more than planned, because our original goal had been to purchase a small home, but with a garage or a basement, for storage of some long term items.

    And it would mean giving up most of my art, because I wouldn’t be able to set up a room as a messy studio in a rental apartment, with paint and resin everywhere, and we certainly couldn’t afford to rent both an apartment and a separate studio space. My husband has pointed out that I don’t sell the art, so it’s just money out the door, but it gives me solace and joy. And his passion for music CDs doesn’t earn money, but listening to music gives him solace and joy. So…

    Sorry for the long post. I just want to live in a smaller space, be able to walk to a grocery store and a coffee shop, and have room to keep doing my art at home. All for a price we can afford… ha, ha, ha.

    It doesn’t sound insanely out of the way, but it just might be. I’m so depressed in this big house in the suburb though. There’s nothing nice within walking distance. I hate all the driving. I don’t actually like having groceries picked out and delivered by someone else. And I hate the amount of work that goes with such a big place. It was perfect when there were four of us and a kazillion pets living here. But that was then, this is now.

    Oh, boy, do I need to find a way to reach a calm decisive decision.

      1. I hear you, Diane. Same for us. It is so taunting. All the fabric and the books. A room for creating is a must. A smaller home with enough wall space to hang all the paintings and Sid Dickens plaques.

        Slow going. Rent or buy or rent then buy, as the real estate market is unpredictable here and the government has tried to cool it for a couple of years. It is creeping up again but where I want to live it is quite stable.

      2. Yeah. We looked a place today that was very expensive, very nice, but so incredibly small. No way to do art, really didn’t feel the love there. Just too small and too pricey.

    1. I have several middle-age friends who sold their homes and then rented. Any chance you could find a small house or a townhouse to rent? More space would allow you to have space for your art. If that’s not possible, perhaps there are coop spaces in your area where you could share studio space?

    2. Renting sounded like a great idea to me till I got to the bit about giving up your studio. Then it suddenly sounded awful. And your husband saying your art’s just money out the door. Ouch! Have you suggested he give up music for 6 months and see if that makes him understand the effect it’d have?

      Echoing Susan on looking out for a coop art space. Or is there another form of art you’d be keen to explore for that time, like drawing or photography?

    3. I don’t know how renting works in your country. In the UK, tenants have no security of tenure. After the initial 6-month (or sometimes 12-month) lease, the landlord can give you two months’ notice at any time, for no reason at all. Which makes renting pretty stressful – along with the high rents.

      I do hear what you’re saying about the stresses of ownership, but couldn’t you afford to buy a smaller house in good shape? For me, being in walking distance of shops, friends and evening events was a high priority – both to be sociable, and so I don’t need to run a car if that gets too expensive.

      I wouldn’t try betting on the market. Just focus on finding yourselves a home that really works for both of you. Regardless of the hypercapitalist culture we live in, you want a home, not an investment.

      Give yourself some thinking time. Do some things that relax you – maybe go for some long walks? – and let your priorities become clear. There’s so much bound up in a home.

      1. PS. I’d look hard at not keeping anything in long-term storage. If they’re not things you need or love to have to hand, I’d get rid of them and free yourselves from the weight of excess possessions. (Like a black cloud looming over you, in my experience.)

      2. Everyone’s suggestions are good. I guess the hard part is that there are almost no homes for sale right now. So, we want to put our home on early in the season to beat the rush (per realtor), but that leaves us with nowhere to buy right now. A smaller house in good shape would be ideal, but those are hard to find in the more walkable neighborhoods, which are older.

    4. You might also want to talk to your accountant. While it can be dependent on a few different issues, in most cases (as I understand it, and I am definitely not an accountant) you pay a substantial amount of tax on any profits from selling a primary home. Those are defrayed if you use the money to buy a different home. So deciding to sell and just rent could conceivably cost you a lot of money.

      If anyone has more experience or knowledge with this, please feel free to chime in.

      1. Diane, it sounds to me as if you haven’t been able to vent about all these concerns. You really need to talk as part of the process of finding out what you want to do. The advice folks have given is good. (Jane, one of the few protections in the US is in housing; renters can’t be quickly tossed. But rents rise, and we have too many bad landlords.) Deborah is completely right about consulting an accountant (and about having a limited time before buying a house if you made a cap gain on selling). I think you will feel better when you understand your budget, by which I mean topics like how much you have to live on; what is and isn’t negotiable; how your resources will change with retirement and social security and medicare. Numbers are very useful tools — even though I’m usually afraid of them until I’ve figured them out.

      2. Not a legal or tax opinion, but the last I knew, in the U.S., the profit (remember it’s profit, not sale price, but net of sale price minus original purchase price) from sale of a primary residence is generally tax-free up to $250K per person or $500K per couple. I think Deborah’s thinking of a like-kind exchange, in which case there has to be a sale and a purchase within a specific time-frame. The exemption for primary residences does NOT require the purchase of a new primary residence. There are restrictions, however, so it’s best to check with a tax pro.

        If you want to read more about it before talking to a pro: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p523.pdf

        But the bottom line — check with a professional tax adviser before doing anything with potential tax ramifications — remains very wise.

      3. I’ve already gotten rid of most of what I don’t want. I’m thinking now of my artwork that I love, but can’t hang on rental walls. My family photos, which I love, my art supplies, and a few other things. The places we saw for renting today were crazy expensive and super, super, small.

      4. Argh! I hadn’t realized you had to invest the money you get into another home in order to avoid capital gains tax. I thought it just had to be your primary residence for a specific period of time.

        1. The investing your capital gains is if you are doing a roll-over of rental property. The capital gains being taxable on selling your home and not buying another home was something that was in effect about 35 years ago. Then it was changed so if you had lived in your primary residence for 2 years and sold it and your capital gain was less than 500 K, you had a one time option of not paying capital gains. Then it was changed again and you did not have to pay capital gains if your gain was less than 500 K but the one time option disappeared. I believe it changed again. So unless you are really good at interpreting tax law, you need to speak to a professional. You might be able to find out from a title insurance/escrow agent since they do loan close outs which might be less expensive than talking to an attorney. A tax accountant is probably the best bet.

      5. The tax is on the profits not the whole payment and I think if you are over a certain age a certain amount of the profits are not taxed for one sale; certainly talking with an accountant to figure out the finances makes sense. There may also be local taxes on house sales and purchases to calculate in.

        1. I think you can also put the entire thing into a retirement account that pays you monthly, and then you just have to pay tax on that month’s income. I think.

    5. We have done exactly that, with a twist.
      We were a couple living in a huge 4 bed/3 bath house with lots of other extra rooms, filling up with stuff and dust. For my health we wanted to move to an other part of the country, went ant looked and bought another house there. BUT, hubby still has to work for at least another 6 years, loves his job (and pay).
      So we ended up renovating the new house quickly, and renting it out via abnb, so we keep maintenance and cleaning under control (income from it more than covers the cost of long distance maintenance).
      We then ended up renting a 2 bed/1 bath apartment, walking distance from his work.
      And you know something? I totally love it! Walking to restaurants, shops etc; station is across the road (we don’t hear the trains much, as we are on 7th floor, facing the other way). We barely use the car anymore.
      I have set up 2nd bedroom with a quality foldout lounge and added Ikea Billy cupboards, with doors. When the bed is folded out, it just fits. But after nearly a year, we haven’t used it as a bed yet.. This room is my ‘escape room’, to not watch hubbies creepy whatever movies, have some separation and leave my craft stuff lying all around.
      And not to have to rush out to clean the drains with every approaching storm, not to have to spend hours cleaning (unused) rooms, no large gardens to take care of is the BEST ever! As well as not having all the stuff we had for years and don’t need/want is a really good feeling too. We had a storage locker for a few months, slowly working our way through all the stuff and mainly just throwing it all out/giving it away. (Our house sold ridiculously fast).
      I’d say: Go for the Renting option, take a breather and after see how things are after a year or so. The great thing with renting is that you are also allowed to to cancel the agreement with notice.
      Just don’t try to fit furniture for a large bouse into a small unit. We simply sold all the old stuff, after giving kids first refusal. And started out new. Was like getting married again, but better, as we now have money and don’t have to take everyones leftovers 😁

    6. Get a two bedroom and put down a tarp. Anything that gets on the walls can be painted over.

      It sounds like a smart move to me. Find a condo. That’s like a house but you don’t have the hassle.

    7. Don’t give up your art! Friends rent (professional artists) and put down drop cloths to protect the floor or make other accommodations. It’s manageable.

      A house gives you control of your environment, which an apartment doesn’t. And you only move when you wish if you own. I understand the dilemma and keep going through it myself. Sympathies.

      1. This is an interesting conversation: owning vs. renting. We’ve somehow managed to rent an apartment for the last 30 years in different areas of the country while always thinking we’d buy a house. We’re now in a 1-bedroom apt. in a really expensive metro area and have been looking for a small, affordable house for the last couple of years. No luck yet. While apartment living does have controlled costs for the length of the lease, there are also lots of limits on what you can do–and no backyard or private outdoor space. On the flip side, people keep warning us about how much work a house is.

        But even though there’s only the two of us, my office is in our living room, we still have totes and filing cabinets in lieu of tables or nightstands, and our sofa is our only seating besides my office chair, so something has to change. If our apartment didn’t have such lovely, large windows (and the incredibly noisy neighbor hadn’t moved out), I would have reached my limit a long time ago.

    8. You could take the radical approach, put everything in storage and become professional housesitters for a year or so – take your art around the world. It would be a different perspective on the tyrrany of stuff. Art workshops en plein air and Spotify, sorted!

  4. Huh. The paying attention thing makes me think of exercises from Learning by Heart, Sister Corita Kent’s book on being an artist. She was really big on focusing on the small details and really seeing things. Seeing the world like an artist might not make you happier but it certainly does shift perspective.

  5. I think that books on how the French educate their children or how the Danes practice their hygge is just a way of generalizing that doesn’t take you to the core of things. Particularly not if they leave you with the feeling of a lack of accomplishment. It’s rather that having a sudden insight concerning things that we used to be clueless about is what makes us happy, and that can come from a lot of different sources.

    My Happy today was that I was able to find the pangram of the daily New York Times spelling bee quiz for a whole week straight. I have an online subscription for the NYT but it doesn’t include the spelling bee, so it will usually only admit three or four tries before locking me out, and I consider that my special challenge as a non-native speaker. It’s fun and good practice at the same time, and I think it matches the “all over the world” part, too. 🙂

  6. Consecutive 12+ hour days at work didn’t make me happy but not having to go into the office today makes me happy-ish. However, when DH and DS went to local community college open house to check out programs for DS next fall, they also enquired about the horticultural program for me. I’m going to apply for fall 2020 and if I decide not to retire, I can decline. Having a plan always makes me feel better about a decision. Wasn’t all work this week – fun time at a friend’s 60th BD/Retirement party and walked home in a snow storm. Woke up to deep fluffy snow – so pretty.

  7. Wait, what – Are you really telling me there IS a book called “The Small Book of Fika”? Has someone actually sat down to write that?

    Fika is untranslatable (at least direct translation) but it’s not really a way of life or anything. It’s not a philosophy or lifestyle. Fika just happens. I don’t even really get it why the rest of the world is so fascinated by fika. It’s just seeing someone somewhere or inviting them to your place or whatever, have a cup of tea/coffee/juice/whatevernonalcoholicdrinkofchoice and something to eat with it like a sandwich or cookie or slice of cake and…be together; talk, gossip, laugh, NOT look at your phone 100 % of the time. That’s it. Must’ve been the easiest money ever earned for a book…

    Oh and we have fika-pause at work – but doesn’t most work places have a coffee pause sometime during the day?

    The world is an odd place… 🙂

    Happy coming week, everyone!

    1. Hmmm. My work doesn’t have a coffee break as such. People stop for tea or coffee, but there’s nothing coordinated, so you only have a break with other people if you organise to share your breaks. And I don’t invite friends over for coffee like that either. We mostly have dinner and a whole evening together, and mostly in a group, not one-on-one. So my life doesn’t really have fika in it. Your description makes me wish it did.

    2. Why does a fika pause sound so much more relaxing and interesting than a coffee break? (Maybe it’s the difference between “pause” and “break.”)

    3. I hereby invite any of you that happens to come to the Netherlands to “ta en fika” (have a fika) either at my place or someplace neutral. I might not live in Sweden anymore but I am still Swedish, so I declare my rights to have fika wherever I wish! 🙂

      1. Ooh, where in the Netherlands? I visit every year or two, for partner’s family. Last year twice…

        I would love an outside reason to take a break from visiting with them. They don’t seem to be able understand anybody wanting to be alone for a while but they’d totally support a fika-pause with a friend, the way you described it. I can exaggerate a bare internet acquaintance into “friend” but I’ve never been willing to flat out invent a friend to visit. Tempted maybe. They live near Breda but I’d totally be willing to travel.

        I would be charmed to meet you in person, too. I’ve not ever met in person someone I’ve met on the internet

  8. Last week was a bit low on happy and high on frustration, for a bunch of reasons, none of them life-changing, just frustrating. But if I actively focus on the happy … my brother’s coming to visit later this week, and so’s a friend from the UK. That’s anticipated happy :-). And I signed up for a drawing course. That’s more anticipated happy, but just the act of signing up made me happy and I’m really looking forward to it.

  9. I don’t know if it’s helpful, but for what it’s worth I only know that song because of The Carpenters. I personally find The Carpenters more euphonious than Herman’s Hermits.

    Today I am happy because I did some yard work yesterday; I spent time with a friend yesterday; I have a tango lesson today; and after that I’m going to see ‘An American In Paris’ with another friend. Yay TCM and Fathom. The husband was invited but alleged that 3 hours of Gene Kelly is something he’d prefer to experience at home.

    Also I have Monday off work which will definitely mean a writing binge and possibly also a little more yard work.

        1. I am reminded of the movie Ghost. Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg was a ghost whisperer/medium (Isolde Goldberg?) To get her to help him, Swayze’s character (a ghost) sang Henry the Eighth over and over and over until she gave in.

          Unchained Melody is a much nicer earworm.

  10. My current “happiness” methodology involves getting rid of stuff.

    Last week I went through the boxes and boxes of holiday decorations in the garage and ruthlessly got rid of things I hadn’t used in years but was still hanging on to just because.

    Yesterday I did the same in the hall linen closed which is where linens, vases, candles, and a lot of other random stuff lives. I both got rid of tons of things I never use and found several things I didn’t know I had.

    Getting rid of stuff always makes me feel happier and lighter and perhaps it makes whoever buys my donated items from the second-hand store happy too.

    When not throwing things away, curling up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a latte, and a good book is a close to happy as I can get without having a dog in the house.

  11. Happy that my road got plowed, so I could get out to the main roads and therefore the grocery store.

    Herman’s Hermits: I’m Into Something Good – one of those rare actually cheerful songs.

    Getting to work with my sister most of next week, instead of real job, so nothing but good times.

    1. You know, “I’m Into Something Good” is okay as an earworm. Very happy.

      “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” should rot in hell.

      1. I had to look up that song on youtube, never heard it before !!! And I realized that the lead singer of Herman’s Hermits looked like he wouldn’t be allowed on stage after 8 p.m. You’re right, “Henry the Eighth” should not be an earworm. “Something good”, however, I don’t mind. And, of course, “God only knows” by the Beach Boys. My favorite song from “Love, Actually”.

  12. I thought I had lost touch with two of my oldest and closest friends over the last few months. I got a birthday card to the first one back and an email to the second was bounced back. I tried searching online for the birthday girl but all I found were older listings . I think that I had the same card returned three times and neither of her telephone numbers was in service.

    My big happy is that I told the whole sad story to my sister, who knows both of these friends and has much better internet skills than I do. She found the first friend, complete with address, telephone and internet in very little time and my project for the coming week is to reconnect with her ASAP.

    The second friend was a little more worrisome because the email that didn’t go through was to ask if their mailing address had changed. I know that they moved into a flat in a suburb on the other side of town from the P.O. box they had been using. It didn’t make sense to continue to rent a box so far away from their home, so I wrote to ask how I should write them now. The email address is through Judy’s employer and I didn’t see her name listed on their website. There were references to exhibitions she had curated, but those were not current. I was afraid she had taken early retirement and I would lose all contact with her.

    After my sister couldn’t find any current info on her, I reexamined the address on the bounced email and found that I had made a typo. I haven’t tried resending the email yet, but I feel confident that she will get it. I don’t really think they had enough money to retire yet, but we are getting close to that age so I really don’t want to lose contact now.

    The last happy of the week is that I got a letter from a friend with whom I have had no direct contact in almost a year. She has 3 month old twins, 2 older kids and has just returned to work. And her husband is working nights. I can’t imagine how she found time to write. I have been keeping up with events in her family and sending along the odd gift through her parents, but this was especially sweet. It included a thank you from the almost 6 year old and a painting from (I think) the 3 year old.

  13. This is the first quiet, peaceful, nothing-I-have-to-do day since — let me check my calendar — umm, okay, I just checked back a full year and didn’t find a day when something wasn’t hanging over me. Husband’s shoulder has healed enough from surgery in November so that he only wears the sling at night — he injured it last June. That has been a bother. January through June were rush rush months. We had major work done on the house in June, July, and August.

    The holiday season ended a few days ago when my daughter and her cat left for their home.

    I’m enjoying the moment.

  14. Yesterday we had a double birthday party for two of the theater people, involving an escape room, lunch, and going out to a bar and playing cards. The birthday people liked the gifts I got them, WHEW. We solved the escape room. We had a lot of fun. A lot of us were able to get together this time, which doesn’t happen that often but worked out well.

    Did end up sitting by the crush most of the time and he definitely liked what I got him, so that’s a yay. I miss seeing him and having excuses to hang out with him, so it was good to get to this time. I do think someday we will finally get together, it’s just a “heck if I know when he’ll ever be ready” situation, sigh. I may go over to his family business tomorrow since I have the day off, I dunno if I’ll get up the nerve.

    I despise January and it’s cold, awful, and dull and depressing, but this was one good day in the month. (This definitely helped since my week at work was crap and I got kicked out of my private office. Fuck work.) I also finished reading a book that I’ll plug later in the week, and I went to the gym for two hours and somehow weigh a lot less than I thought I did, so that’s a yay too.

  15. Re: books on happiness.

    A few years ago, I read a very interesting book, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.
    The author, a professional journalist, traveled to several countries in different parts of the world and compared the levels of happiness in each. His observations and conclusions were fascinating, and the writing was superb. I would recommend this book to anyone.
    Below are a couple of quotes from the book.

    p. 3 “…we subconsciously conflate geography and happiness. We speak of searching for happiness, of finding contentment, as if these were locations in an atlas…”

    p.163 “…happy people remember more good events in their lives than actually occurred. Depressed people remember the past accurately.”

    1. I remember reading an article that said something similar, except it said that the assumption that depressed people are always looking on the gloomy side of things, but when they were actually studied, the problem was that they were more in touch with reality than optimists.

      I find that depressing.

      1. After all the years I’ve spent in therapy for depression where they told me that I was not processing things clearly, I find this very interesting. I also find it easier to believe in the current political climate.

  16. My happy is that DH and I are departing tomorrow for 10 days in Lisbon and environs, where I’ll turn another year older and we’ll scout out locations for our move later this year.

    Diane, the down-sizing/getting rid of stuff is daunting, isn’t it? We’ve gotten rid of so much stuff and it feels like we haven’t made a dent. And since most of this stuff isn’t going to Portugal, dents must be made! I’m happy to report that I’m already doing much less just-in-case thinking than I was when I started, so more stuff is going now. It’s a pleasure to look in my closet and see spaces between hangers!

    1. It really is. Particularly because there are some things I need and some things I just love and want to keep. Most of it can go. But I’m finding that it’s oddly hard to find a middle-sized property in the areas that are livelier in my city.

      The suburban areas have huge homes. The livelier neighborhoods have super small ones, well under 1,000 sq. feet. I’d be happy enough just to find a small home with either a basement or a garage w/ storage space. So far, no luck. Condos have some advantages, but to me, they don’t really feel like homes, but more like hotels. I’m not wild about living with so many people right there.

      I need to get a good night’s sleep, consult an accountant, and speak w/ our realtor next week to see how other people handle this weird, “I’m selling, but where will I live now” hassle.

      1. When I cleaned out the house so we could move, I took photos of lots of things that I wanted to remember but really didn’t need. That helped me get rid of many things. (Thank goodness we have digital cameras these days, so even lots of pics are cheap!)

        1. I do that, too! It gives me the relief to release things. To date, I haven’t looked at a single picture, and have missed none of it. 🙂

  17. I started crocheting again. Apparently, I can’t remember how to count stitches, so the scarf I started making got gradually thinner as I went, but it was comforting to listen to a book and keep my hands busy doing something productive.

  18. I had emails – with pictures – from a couple of distant friends, in response to my Christmas cards. My Australian author’s property has survived so far, although the fire got close to the back of her house. I’d got worried about all the creatures in the soil, but she says her compost heap, with worms, has survived.

    I was excited to find some unusual plants I fancied for my garden available (at a good price!) by mail order from Great Dixter (famous English garden); and equally thrilled to buy strawberry and raspberry plants for the allotment – all due this next week.

  19. And now I have it. Thank you so much. It will be days before it gets out of my head. And that thing where you sing just the first few words of a different song? Physically impossible. I can’t not finish a line. Not if I want to be able to function for the rest of the day!

    1. Advertisers depend on that. When you said it, I remembered the cigarette commercial, “You can take Salems out of the country, but…”

  20. My plan for today was to nap and write – but then I got started on the bathroom cabinet which hasn’t been cleaned out in maybe ten years. Maybe more. THEN my BFF said she was going grocery shopping and I needed organizational stuff for the cabinet so I went with her.

    It was a nice afternoon, relaxing and chatting as we did errands together. Very happy-making. And I can write tonight.

    1. I once found a package of travel-sized fancy hair products that I won at a friend’s baby shower for her son. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that he was 15.

  21. So many crazy happy things.
    I saw The Last Ship with Sting today and it was brilliant. Costume Set Music Acting movement

    Tomorrow I am invited to the pre-read of Joel Coen’s Macbeth starring Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington. In addition to my own part they requested I read all three witches. I am not kidding! That is going to be so much fun.
    Also last Thursday I did a part on a tv show called Schooled. And this Friday I have a small role on AP Bio.
    Plus the paperback of Irish Magic is up for pre order on Amazon and the audiobook is now available in several markets. Not yet on Audible. Apparently it takes longer to get up there. I produced it through Findaway Books.
    Plus my sister and a friend painted my hall. So much happiness.

  22. I was cleaning out the second spare bedroom closet and realized that a lot of what I’d been hanging on to were dead pillows. I also had an old flat sheet, a stained table cloth, and a duvet cover. The sheet and table cloth will be made into pillow cases and then sewn together long sides and stuffed with the dead pillows then those will be popped into the duvet cover to make a dog bed. I got 6 pillow cases made today. I also put aside 3 sets of sheets to go to the thrift store and tidied the linen closet, all of which made me happy.

    It’s warmed up considerably and so tomorrow I get to shovel out the front path where it’s drifted in and be very grateful for the neighbour who cleaned part of my sidewalk with his snowblower.

    Apparently it’s bedtime. Fred is wandering around and flopping down dejectedly and sighing the sigh of a very put-upon dog. It’s his turn to sleep on the people bed and I’m cheating him out of time on the comfy mattress.

  23. Attention is a coin with which happiness is purchased.

    Sounds profound, no? I suspect, but can’t prove it well enough to write a self-help book (unless it is literally a self-help book, readership of one) that there are a plethora of currencies and denominations of change for buying happiness. The people who say, “Money can’t buy happiness” are using the wrong medium of exchange. Try negotiable bearer bonds, for example.

    Did you catch the word “change” above? That thesaurus about which we spake would inform us that it isn’t just a word for metal bits jingling in our pockets. Change may buy happiness. Loose change is at least grin-worthy.

    Changing weather. The dotter was disappointed that it didn’t snow last night. She wanted to play with her kids in it. While committing shopping therapy after dinner (Ruby Tuesday, Cajun Ribeyes) this evening, I asked at one point, “Is it raining?” It wasn’t. We had reached that temperature and condition where the fog or humidity freezes, and little frozen spicules of ice are suspended. You feel them, but there’s almost nothing to see.

    A small happy is that I received my SSA-1099 in the mail. I’v had my 1099R from the Navy since December. Now all I need is a W-2 and I can let TurboTax do my taxes for free. Happy.

  24. I am pretty sure every country in the world has some pretty good ways to be happy, and some pretty evil ways to be sad and depressed. Had to laugh at the Japanese one (written by a couple of non-Japanese people), because my teacher was just telling kids that Denmark (Denmark!) is the happiest country in the world, and that Japanese people were the busiest and worked too hard. (We’re studying superlatives.)

    Personally, I’ll go with the Book of Snoopy. Happiness is a warm puppy. Happiness is popcorn and buttered toast and jelly beans. Happiness is a root beer in a French café during the depths of the war. LOL, OK, curse you Red Baron! There’s misery in that world, too. But that’s the way it is.

      1. Okay, “whinging” is “whining,” right?
        Poms? That can’t be Pomeranians.

        ETA: I googled:
        “It seems that the word ‘pom’ actually comes from ‘pomegranate’ – the red-skinned fruit – because that’s what the British people’s faces looked like when they encountered the Australian sunshine.”



        “We start with the word immigrant, well-established by the mid 19th Century as a settler. In a joking way people would play with immigrant from around 1850 or so, turning it into a proper name (Jimmy Grant), to give the strange immigrants a pseudo-personality.
        Equally playfully, a Jimmy Grant morphed around 1912 into pomegranate and immediately into pom, which it has stuck as till today.”



        Nobody knows.

        1. Thank you, Jenny. Aussies are fabulously inventive with language – it was one of the things I really enjoyed when I was over there, in the late eighties, before Australian became really familiar overseas.

          1. Oh, and I gather the ‘whinging’ came from immigrants from the UK who regretted their choice and complained endlessly about Australia.

          2. I’d never heard that about the British. I thought the bad guys were us Ugly Americans.
            When I was in Australia with Krissie, it was right after Bush started the war in the Middle East. We either apologized endlessly or told people we were Canadian.

        2. Coming from a Scottish background some of whose family moved to Australia after WW 1 from what I remember from tales told around the fire when they (or their decendents ) visited
          I understood this meant pompous English people who moaned about the lack of all they missed.

  25. What makes me happy? Right now, being old enough to work from home as a writer (and sometimes substitute teacher to ‘un-hermit’ myself. I prefer pre-K, Jenny will understand that!, and stick to elementary school classrooms). Sub-teaching is the perfect flexible job for a freelance writer.

    What else makes me happy?

    The decision, FINALLY, of moving to a better climate than upstate New York. Speaking of socks, I have on indoor socks that are fluffy, and currently perched on a warmed corn pillow. My outdoor socks are merino wool. I will not need merino wool, a down vest under a down coat, or long underwear, after I get moved to Eastern Tennessee.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of moving for years, but it’s difficult to move when you have land, horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. Okay, the chickens don’t go. But it’s not like I live in an apartment. It’s hard to leave my garden, my fruit trees/bushes, and start over homesteading somewhere else when you’re over 60 – but I seriously hate winter. I hate cold, snow, and ice.

    A good friend is moving to Chattanooga on Feb. 1, so I now have a tiny bit of infra-structure in the south. It will take a while to get all of my ducks (not chickens) in a row.

    Happiness is living in a warmer climate, and writing from a screened in porch with a glass of iced tea instead of being swathed in down, wool, and microwaving corn pillows to keep my feet warm.

    Happiness is being able to ride my horses for more than six months of the year, and gardening year-round with a greenhouse or row covers, too!

  26. The weirdest thing happened: a client realized their project schedule was insane, and moved everything back two months–and I had no work to do this weekend!

    So down came Christmas. Up went fun stuff on the gallery ledge. Out went two bags for Goodwill. And out came the paints, for more palette knife practice.

    Also, I am delighted to report that after shoveling heavy, wet snow for more than an hour on Saturday, I could walk on Sunday.

  27. I’m pretty low overall. Returning from travel combines too much to do with jet lag not to mention lash back from food sensitivities(totally worth it but re-breaking the habit is so hard)

    but I am glad that our house is big enough to shelter a friend, house hunting in a new place for a new job he’s enthused about. Esp noteworthy as it’s seldom I’m pleased with this house. And he’s moving to the area that I have determined is my best bet for moving away from here, so- foothold!

    1. Those are great.
      Must find a way to make them. They look like they’re just rounds so it’ll be gauging the proportions. Thank you!

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