A Joyful Read

One of my favorite fiction authors is Katherine Center. I eagerly await her books. But then a funny thing happens. Once I buy her newest book, I hesitate to start reading it. Because once I start reading, it’s hard to stop. And if I read too quickly, I’ll finish the book too quickly. 

Ms. Center’s latest novel, What You Wish For,  was no different. It made me smile. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me bite my lip. And it made me look up George Michael’s “Freedom! ‘90,” and play the sample on the iTunes store. (page 234, if you’re curious)

This week, allow me to share some of my favorite passages with you:

“Joy is an antidote to fear. To anger. To boredom. To sorrow.”
“But you just can’t decide to feel joyful.”
“True. But you can decide to do something joyful. You can hug somebody. Or crank up the radio. Or watch a funny movie. Or tickle somebody. Or lip-synch your favorite song. Or buy the person behind you at Starbucks a coffee. Or wear a flower hat to work.”

 

You really have to read the description of the school library (page 107) to become fully enchanted, but meanwhile I’ll share this bit with you:

“I wanted to make sure that if kids felt an impulse at any moment to pop by the library, there’d be nothing to stop them. It was the best way I knew to turn them into readers: to catch those little sparks when they happened and turn them into flames.”

 

“I’m not happy because it comes easily to me. I bite and scratch and claw my way toward happiness every day.”
“It’s a choice. A choice to value the good things that matter. A choice to rise above everything that could pull you down. A choice to look misery right in the eyes … and then give it the finger.”
“It’s a deliberate kind of joy. It’s a conscious kind of joy. It’s joy on purpose.”
“I’m telling you. I know all about darkness. That’s why I am so hell-bent, every damn day, on looking for the light.”

“Life doesn’t ever give you what you want just the way you want it. Life doesn’t ever make things easy. How dare you demand that happiness should be yours without any sacrifice – without any courage? What an incredibly spoiled idea – that anything should come easy? Love makes you better because it’s hard. Taking risks makes you better because it’s terrifying. That’s how it works. You’ll never get anything that matters without earning it. And even what you get, you won’t get to keep. Joy is fleeting. Nothing lasts. That’s exactly what courage is. Knowing all that going in – and going in anyway.” 

Moments of Happiness

A few months ago, a good friend gave me Option B written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.  I’m about halfway through it, and already have quite a few Post-Its tagging pages.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, there has been an awful lot going on in our family during the last couple of months.  The other night I read a few passages in Option B which really impacted me, and I wanted to share them with my readers.

“When we look for joy, we often focus on the big moments.  But happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity.”

“Paying attention to moments of joy takes effort because we are wired to focus on the negatives more than the positives.  Bad events tend to have a stronger effect on us than good events. “

“Even when we’re in great distress, joy can still be found in moments we seize and moments we create.  All of these can provide relief from pain.  And when these moments add up, we find that they give us more than happiness; they also give us strength.”

And, I’d like to take it a few steps further and share with you three moments that made me happy this past week:

  1. Driving in our car, my ten-year-old son sat in the back seat, singing along to “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies, but doing it our family-way — substituting “Oh Ryan” for “Oh Sugar.”
  2. My son and I watching Apollo 13 (again), and applauding when the three astronauts safely splashdown.
  3. Sitting on our patio the other night after dinner as my son and husband ate bowls of chocolate ice cream, and I sat and watched — our giant pinwheel spinning, a hummingbird, and “my guys” on our glider.

It’s a good reminder that when things seem hard, or scary, or overwhelming, moments of happiness are all around us.  We just have to pay attention to them.

Readers, I’d love to hear from you.  I invite you to share your recent moments of happiness in the comments section below!