I’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.
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).