Hidden Happiness

Happiness is rarely visible to the multitude, says a shrewd observer; it lies hidden in odd corners and quiet places.

Happiness is a shy thing. Grief is blatant and advertising. If a boy cuts his finger he howls, proclaiming his woe. If he is eating pie he sits still and says nothing.

If you ask a man how he is, he searches himself to find a pain to report. If he has nothing but happiness he hates to mention it, and says, “Oh, not half bad.”

We conceal happiness, as a vice.

We are rather suspicious of it, and if we feel particularly well, or have exceptional good luck, we knock on wood.

The fact is that happiness does not come from the big events of life, but is made up of innumerable little things.

Ordinary every-day happiness is composed of shoes that fit, stomach that digests, purse that does not flatten, a little appreciation, and a bit of this, that, and the other, too trifling to mention.

The big things, such as some one giving you a million dollars, are not only rare, but they do not satisfy when you have the neuritis.

We are so cantankerous by nature that we are usually able to spell happiness only by holding it before the mirror and reading backwards. Leonardo da Vinci used to write that way; that may be why he could paint “The Joyous One” with so enigmatical a smile.

For if you seek to analyze contentment you go at it negatively. To feel well means you do not have head-ache, tooth-ache nor toe-ache, you have no dyspepsia, catarrh, gout, sciatica, hives, nausea, boils, cancer, grippe, rhinitis, iritis, appendicitis nor any other itis. And to determine your joy you must reckon by checking off and eliminating the factors of possible pain. Answer – happy, if no pain discoverable. So elusive is joy!

Some day try reversing this process. Note all the pleasurable things. For instance, a good sleep, a delightful snooze in bed after you ought to get up, a delicious bath, the invigorating caress of cold water, a good breakfast, with somebody you love visible across the coffee-cups, a half-hour’s diversion with the newspaper, the flash of nature’s loveliness outdoors as you go to work, interesting faces on the street car, pleasures of your business, pleasant relations with your fellow-workers, meeting old friends and new faces, the good story some one tells you, and so on – you’ll fill your note-book – and you can get your disappointments and grievances into three lines.

Happiness, they say, is scant in this wicked world and hard to find.

One way to find it is to look for it.


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