Sunday, July 25, 2021



Hey, if you’re a writer and you’re not happy, get over it.


You’ve been given a gift.


I once read this quote, and for the life of me, I can’t find who said it, but it has applied to me for years. “I’m a writer like a dog is a dog. It doesn’t mean I’m a good dog.”


I just read Seth Godin’s blog where he asked the question, “Is Mood a Gift or a Skill?” It’s fascinating how certain subjects come up when you need them.


 Some days, wrote Godin, we wake up with optimism and possibility. That would appear that our moods are handed to us. 


Other days, we must work to obtain a good mood—write morning pages (yes, Godin mentioned morning pages), meditation, music, who we hang out with, and what media we consume.


We want a Deus ex machina, “The God of the machine” to save us. (A plot device from Shakespearean plays where a seemingly impossible problem is solved by a god who was swung onto the stage by some contraption and thus saves the day.)


If our mood is governed by some otherworldly intervention, we are victims.


Being in command of our moods is a skill, and skills can be learned and perfected.


David Robson wrote in The Guardian that as a teenager, he was plagued with insecurities. In contrast, his mother said, “The problem with your generation is that you always expect to be happy.” He was baffled. Surely, he thought, happiness was the purpose of living, and we should strive to achieve it at every opportunity? He simply wasn’t prepared to accept his melancholy as something beyond his control. 


Later on, in life, he realized that his mother was spot on.


 “Over the past 10 years,” wrote Robson, “numerous studies have shown that our obsession with happiness and high personal confidence may be making us less content with our lives and less effective at reaching our actual goals. Indeed, we may often be happier when we stop focusing on happiness altogether.” 


Well, well, that takes me back to my favorite story on happiness.


A little cat believed that happiness lies in his tail, so he was always chasing it. The Wise Guru Cat said, “Little cat, little cat, don’t you know that if you go on with your life, happiness like your tail will follow?”


Other researchers think that those who focus, who do affirmations, pictures, those sorts of things to achieve their goals, actually harm.


 I take issue.


Those people are pushing too hard. The more you are determined that this thing that you want will come to you, the more resistance you are putting on it. You are saying I do not have this thing I want. You are chasing your tail. 


The Universe or whatever, The Blue Genie, sees you as not having it. And appearing ignorant when you say I do not have this thing I want. He hears, “I do not have.”


Weird, I know. 


All your affirmations ought to be that you DO have it. And if you affirm, picture, repeat, it ought to be fun, and with a light heart, with exuberance and joy. It is programming your unconscious, remember? It is not beating it into submission.


Genies don’t assume. They are literal. “I do not have this thing I want.”


“You don’t? Okay.” 


Instead, perhaps instead of reaching for happiness, we reach for joy. 


  I remember the day my sister, Jan, and I were standing at our mother’s grave site. This was years after she passed, and she had no gravestone until we kids decided to buy one. It was December. I had driven the 150 miles to visit Jan and to see our mother’s new headstone. It was snowing. We both had purchased flowers, and on the way out her apartment door, Jan grabbed the broom to sweep away the snow that she knew would be covering the flat stone that marked Mom’s grave.


After reading the inscription, we stood there talking about our wonderful mother and how we missed her. Suddenly the snow stopped, and above our heads, the sky cleared, and the lightly falling snow stopped. 


Dumbfounded, we looked up, and Jan said, “I feel joy.”


“So do I,” I said. 


At that point, the sky closed, and the sprinkling of snow began again. 


Were we happy? I don’t know. We were mystified, and we felt joy.


 These are the moments in our lives.