Interesting definition of happiness

Lucy Maud MontgomeryI’ve always been fond of L. M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. I think of her as a great contributor to the positive canon, not just in the Anne stories, which are full of humor and duty and compassion for the human condition. But also in the short stories that she wrote and that Rhea Wilmshurst collected a few years back.


Cover of After Many Days
One such collection is called After Many Days. The stories are the continuations of stories that started many years ago — people coming back home who had left and not been heard from, old quarrels revisited, old dreams revived, duty long maintained …

I found this definition of happiness in one of them. I think it’s hard to beat.

Where were the eagerness and zest of new dawns, the earnestness of well-filled, purposeful hours of labour, the satisfaction of a good day worthily lived, at eventide the unbroken rest of long, starry nights? (In the Old Valley, p.65)

The words are in the mind of a man who had left home to become very successful in the business world. After 20 years, he has come back home with a feeling of incompleteness. The story ends with a reunion and these words:

… he understood that he had found his way back to simple happiness and true wisdom, the wisdom of loving and the happiness of being loved. (In the Old Valley, p. 75).

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4 Comments

Filed under Relationships, Savoring, Stories

4 responses to “Interesting definition of happiness

  1. Pingback: Interesting definition of happiness | Shrinknet

  2. Pingback: Positive Canon of Children’s Books « Positive Psychology Reflections

  3. Another shot at defining happiness (which aims to
    more “scientific” and “objective” despite being a subjective feeling): http://www.spreadinghappiness.org/2009/08/what-is-happiness/

  4. Elizabeth Richards

    Here is a similar (but true) essay that echoes similar sentiments…

    http://harvardmagazine.com/1998/07/alumni.why.html

    I wonder what the world would think if I offered my honest submission to the alumni magazine: Claudia Cummins recently left Washington, D.C., where she worked in the White House and then served as a journalist, to return to her family in Mansfield, Ohio. She works part-time at her family’s hinge factory, teaches yoga in area banquet halls, and babysits her brother’s children on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She’d love to hear from anyone passing through north-central Ohio–contact her at her parents’ home, where she still lives.

    The truth is, I wake up most mornings with a happy heart. I’ve crafted a life full of the people and places and creative explorations that I love. I write endlessly, and practice my happy yoga, and many mornings walk through the sky-filled meadows behind our house. My part-time job, in an office I share with my two brothers at our (utterly unglamorous) business, offers me ample time for around-the-world travels. My siblings, my parents, my cousins are also my best friends. I’ve found in them that safety net of unconditional love and laughter so desperately missed in my years away from home. And I’m beginning to feel I’m an important strand in this web of helping hands as well. I have a growing circle of yoga students who say I help them live fuller, happier, wiser lives. All this means more to me than any of my Harvard honors. …
    And so here I am, living either a really small life in a little town in Ohio, or, as I would like to believe, living a far bigger life than I could have ever fathomed. As I recently wrote another Ivy Leaguer, I am in paradise as long as I don’t think about the future. Maybe by the time our fifteenth reunion–or twenty-fifth–comes around, I’ll feel okay enough about all this to come back. Perhaps by then I’ll be old enough not to care so much about how my life reads on paper. Maybe I’ll be wise enough to remember that words and titles and addresses can never capture a life well lived. And that this world is so much more vast and varied, bigger and more brilliant, than any Ivy-covered promise could ever foretell.

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