Posted in Books, Canada, Cats, Chocolate, Family, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

1ahappy12Everyday in the media and social media I hear about happiness.

Happiness Projects,
Happiness Quotients,
Happiness Index,
Gross National Happiness,
polls, songs, quotes…
what’s with all the happiness?

Is wretchedness and melancholy really that out of style?

Where are the memes celebrating the drudgery of everyday life?

Where are all the T-shirts promoting doom and gloom?

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If happiness is sooooo easy why does everyone have to be constantly reminded to be happy?

When did we become so obsessed with measuring and quantifying happiness? When it became big business, that’s when. I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately so I was drawn to The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being by William Davies (Verso). I felt the book was overly academic, like I needed a degree in something to understand it, but it did have some fascinating, logical, brilliant, and disturbing points about how we’re being sold happiness and at what cost. Happiness is a new religion.

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But what if we’re being sold a one-size-fits-all happiness coat? It seems to insulate us against heartache, but instead, it’s drafty, the seams are fraying, and oops, it’s not waterproof. I’ve been sales-pitched happiness for years, and I’m starting to feel consumer fatigue. I’m guessing a lot of people aren’t feeling ‘the happy’ the way they’re told they should be feeling it, especially if the amount of loneliness, antidepressants, and boredom are any indication.

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I find people endlessly fascinating, though I could live to be a 1000 and still never grasp their full complexity. Maybe I don’t want to, there’s nothing more thrilling than a mystery. I’ve observed that people seem to think they have to add things and people to their life to be happier, but what if it’s quite the opposite, what if you have to remove things and people to be happier?

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I decided to start my own Happiness Savings Plan – pool then diversify my assets and lose some liabilities. I want to make sure I keep falling in love, over and over again, with my son’s laughter, books, music, clouds, chocolate, TV, movies, loved ones, conversation, kittens, dreams, puppies, laughter, hope…I’m tired of hearing about: The Kardashians, FIFA, Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn (I don’t care about the choice, I’m just sick of endless publicity-seeking), spy pigeons, wrinkled selfies (pretty much all selfies at this point actually), drought shaming, fat shaming, age shaming, sex mad marsupials…sigh, I’m feeling less happy just thinking about it all.

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So for the next 365 days my plan is to make changes, one per day, mostly removing things; perhaps it will make me happier, perhaps not, only time will tell.

I invite you, my dear readers to join, if you so wish, don’t feel like you need to, or do the same changes. And don’t worry, there won’t be endless posts about my C-C-Changes Plan, just an update here and there…

My first week is as follows:

1. Remove 15 minutes or more of internet time per day.

2. Remove 15 minutes or more of news/politics per day.

3. Remove 15 minutes or more of sitting per day.

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4. Give up one TV show.

5. Change 15 minutes of screen time into reading or listening to a book time.

6. Take 15 minutes or more to organize .

7. Learn something new each day.

It might be challenging, but as G.K. Chesterton reminded us, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

P.S. I’m going for less.

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Posted in Books, Political, Uncategorized

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

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The world is full of sure people.
I don’t mean confident people.
I mean sure peoplesure they’re right and those that don’t agree with them are wrong.

They know what is best. They know what is ‘the best’.
They know where you should live, what you should wear, drive, read, watch, worship, love, hate, etc.
I was more like that until someone made me unsure. In retrospect, they probably did me a favour, but it didn’t have to be so horrible. Ironically, they haven’t changed.
I knew what was right and wrong; I really knew what was wrong.
I didn’t know that what I didn’t know was more important than what I knew. I’m pretty sure about that.

Sure people don’t need to listen to other people, they’re already sure they’re right.
They’ve made up their minds. Often, not even facts will alter that.

I’m a voracious reader. I can tell you why I like or dislike a book, but I don’t know if you’ll like it.
Same goes for TV, movies, restaurants, clothes, technology.
I can recommend.
I can advocate.
I can oppose.
But only you can decide.

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Image/Random House

I was thinking of Sure People when reading a surprisingly funny and fascinating book, Would You Baptize An Extraterrestrial? (And Other Strange Questions from the Inbox at the Vatican Observatory) by two witty Jesuit astronomers, primarily involved in research, who try to answer all the wild and wacky questions posed to the Vatican, but in a conversational, refreshing, and unexpectedly, amusing style. Pope Francis said last year he would baptize a Martian…hmm, are they trying to prepare us for a coming invasion? 1bap5This book tries to show that religion and science don’t have to be at odds. People can believe in both. Do you think that’s true, dear readers? I certainly think we have more important things to worry about. We too often go for ‘or’ when we should use ‘and’. Economy and the environment, not or. Security and civil liberties, not or.

Which brought me to trust, can we trust when we’re not sure?
We can observe, listen, use our instincts and critical thinking, look for facts, question, see the world as it is…I prefer reality, if I want fantasy, I’ll watch TV or a movie, read a book or listen to governments.1bap1Which brings me back to, the Sures.  The more I learn, the more I hear, see, and observe, the more I wonder.

I’m only sure of so many things in this world: Love. Compassion. Hope. And cookies, and who knows, maybe those aren’t even what they seem.xf11