The Third Question

The first question took me to the kitchen where I made sticky buns and bathed in the aroma of cinnamon (see “Cinnamon Rolls” on this blog); the second led me to cupcake pops and the art of having fun (“To Lick or not to Lick?”). I’m ready to take my chances with the third:  “Do you always feel inclined to write uplifting?” asks my friend Bonnie (windshieldthinking.wordpress.com). “Sometimes I enjoy the mire”, she adds, “getting dirty and then coming clean.” It’s tempting: I’ve written about the frightful nights of my childhood when my dad spanked me for waking the family up; about my mother’s fall into depression and dementia after his death; about the head injury that’s left me with balancing issues and PTSD; about my niece’s untimely passing. Why not publish and show the world how resentment, anger, and pain muster forgiveness, acceptance, and joy? Why not join the band of voices that comfort the world with their tales of trials and struggles?

Author Gretchen Rubin’s new book “The Happiness Project” was released a week ago. She decided while riding a bus that she could be a happier person and she set out to research how it could be done. She then did what is done these days: she blogged about it (happiness-project.com) and got published in print. As she practiced what she learned, she uncovered “Four Splendid Truths”. The second is my personal favorite: “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” Her fans enthusiastically agree: the book is currently number 6 on Amazon bestsellers’ list. Happiness projects are the hip New Year’s resolution.

As a wife and mother I know all there is to know about making others happy. Making myself happy is a work in progress but the one thing I know for sure is that revisiting the rainy days of my life only serves to keep me stranded in the darkness and is no recipe for happiness. Choosing to focus on what makes me come alive, on the other hand, fills me with warmth and excitement. When I breathe from that place –balmy and bright, like a day at the beach- my friends and family take notice and feel happier too. I call it “The Happiness Effect”.

The word ‘effect’ is defined as ‘the power to produce results’. (dictionary.com).This power comes from within and is activated by steeping goodness not by brewing mud. The much anticipated result is this: instead of simply enduring life’s many upheavals we slowly get the hang of dancing through the storm. Clouds are the signal to grab our shoes –equipped with non-slip ‘in-soul’. Rising winds tell us to start swinging to the rhythm of our happy memories. Lightning lights our path and thunder keeps the beat. When the hail comes, even though we’re drenched and cold, we manage to skip to the exciting part: we’re not alone. The maelstrom is attracting attention. As we take onlookers by the hand and spin in unison, they join the party and bring their friends. Once the storm passes we sit and bathe in the sun. We savor. We dream. We celebrate.

Yes, I always feel inclined to write uplifting. Because I believe in the mighty strength of optimism and hope. Because dancing through life is a lot more fun than drowning in quicksand. Because being happy makes me happy, which makes others happy, which keeps me happy!

Copyright – January 5, 2010

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21 thoughts on “The Third Question

  1. Lovely paragraph:

    ‘As a wife and mother I know all there is to know about making others happy. Making myself happy is a work in progress but the one thing I know for sure is that revisiting the rainy days of my life only serves to keep me stranded in the darkness and is no recipe for happiness. Choosing to focus on what makes me come alive, on the other hand, fills me with warmth and excitement. When I breathe from that place –balmy and bright, like a day at the beach- my friends and family take notice and feel happier too. I call it “The Happiness Effect”.’

    Thank you for this.

  2. It’s quite easy (and fashionable) to winge and whine and opine about how bad things are – it’s not like you’re taking the easy route here. It takes an act of the will and a bull headed determination to “write uplifting.” Uplifting writing is like good conversation – it’s not all about you. It’s generous. It doesn’t ask the other guy to carry your crap.

    So … since the down-sending parts of life are part of life, and since they’re usually part of really good fiction and essays, how do we work with them? The problem I find with writing about things that are not oriented toward the light is that they need their context. If the writing can’t contextualize the shadow within the light, then the message is shadow, and shadow’s not the truth. Or, I don’t think it is, anyway.

    We can tell it the usual way (whatever “it” is) — we can say, yeah, there’s good but there’s also bad. Or, we can tell it the uplifting way — we can say, yeah there’s bad, but there’s also good.

  3. Nicky

    In my opinion happiness translates into positiveness and vice versa. Happiness is “inspirational”, positiveness is the “quality of being encouraging or promising of a successful outcome”. I have to agree with you, why use all your energy to focus on the shortcomings in life. Even though shortcoming experiences may help others, your results from sharing happiness always blossom into more happiness. Keep sharing the happiness and you would certainly make others the happy. Happiness is like an electric pole transmitting electricity, if you are connected the flow of happiness continues. Or maybe we can say it’s like yawning, it’s contagious!🙂

  4. territiffany

    And your voice uplifted me today too! I tend to write about some of the trying times in my life to point to how I got through them and how to use those reminders for the future.
    You are right– your site is a happy place! Thank you so much for visiting my blog today.
    Are you in France? I have to ask as I visited there once– a life long dream after studying the language forever.

  5. Bonnie

    Here I am…all dirty🙂

    I am a fan of yours and this post (even if not of the Happiness Project itself.)

    It’s neat how we met in a writing class & that’s where I got the “writing myself true” bit. Otherwise pretty positive, it can get dicey writing true to my childhood days. Some may say, “well don’t write about it.” But I WANT to! It makes me happy. My life now (thank goodness) is pretty calm and stable. But my childhood has “yellow-brick roads” (fun) and “backseat to a cake” days (drama) that are a part of me and sometimes in that exploration…like a kid playing in it…I get muddy! It’s o.k. though because I have uplifting friends like you who can hose me down, yes?

    Thank you for your generous writing spirit!

  6. Marie-Christine

    “Yes, I always feel inclined to write uplifting. Because I believe in the mighty strength of optimism and hope. Because dancing through life is a lot more fun than drowning in quicksand. Because being happy makes me happy, which makes others happy, which keeps me happy!”

    C’est le cadeau de ton amitié si précieuse !

  7. wendy

    So glad to get back to reading your blog! While reading it I could hear your voice saying the words. I think your writing is so wonderful and it just made me happy to read your words of wisdom. Basically if you seek happiness then it will come and multiply as you share it.
    I have just begun a new relationship with an old male friend who lives in Queens. His upbeat nature and frequent laughter at himself and others is contagious!
    We are oh so different but being with him just makes me happy so I quess it is right.
    Keep up your words because they bring such joy and pleasure to me in times of uncertainty.

  8. Lovely post. Happiness is a way of living. I have learned, through the years, that happiness is a choice, even when times are challenging. It’s not so much an external thing as internal. When I take personal responsibility for my life, my situation, my happiness, I am empowered. Happiness for me also comes from doing things I love to do, like photographing flowers and nature. I feel alive when I am communing with nature through a lens.

    Your writing is beautiful, inspiring and uplifting. I will be back again soon!!

    Cathy

  9. Hi Maryse!

    I totally agree. I can’t say I’ve come through my own storm completely unscathed. (We can all sit and cry in our beers.) But I can say I’ve made myself happy. It didn’t take a ‘project’ to get me here. But to each his own. I’ve surrounded myself with those who encourage, uplift and support me and I know happy. I live it everyday.

    Keep up the good work.
    Diane

  10. Gretchen

    I saw the nice mention of my book, The Happiness Project, here. I very much appreciate you shinning a spotlight on my work. Thanks and best wishes,
    Gretchen

  11. Lovely post. I agree and wish you much happiness on your new outlook. Happiness is a choice– Struggle comes and goes but its the outcome of those struggles that define the person.🙂

  12. Hi Maryse!
    LOVE this post – your writing is beautiful, poetic and heartfelt! I so love the Happiness project too! I have some stressed friends who look at me like I’m totally NUTS cuz I’m always happy, positive, sending out good energy – they think I’m on drugs for godsake. It’s a simple choice! Like you, I’d rather dance!
    Thanks again for the visit to my blog!
    hugs
    suZen

  13. Hi Maryse,
    Yes, happiness is the buzzword these days. I imagine it is because we have been in such a national malaise for years now. I am currently reading Sylvia Boorstein’s “Happiness is an Inside Job,” a Buddhist-interest book, and am adoring it. I’m with you. Write uplifting, there can never be enough of that. There is plenty of suffering to go around and whatever we can do to assist another, let’s go for it. Blessings to you!

    1. Dear Jan,

      Thank you!! I’m going to get that book. It sounds more profound than taking on a ‘project’.

      This blogging thing is certainly bringing much happiness in my life. I’m meeting a whole bunch of very nice and highly creative people.

      See you soon in the blogosphere!

      Love,

      Maryse

  14. I love to read your uplifting pieces because you really capture the feelings that we all often forget or it’s too fleeting for us to notice.

    It’s so hard to find really good happy written things. I’ve looked for happy news, happy articles, joyful things to read, but people love to write about the drama and often times it gets so down.

    This is so refreshing! Keep it up!

    It reminds me of what Sonia Choquette told me personally that her teacher told her

    “If you want to help the miserable of the world, don’t be one of them!”

    love and peace, Lisa K.
    http://spirituality.lmk88.org

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