"Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back"

So says the divine Florence + the Machine.  But what does it mean? Happiness hit her suddenly? Transformationally? Or happiness killed her?

The two most common anthems to happiness that crop up in my life are the completely antithetical "Carpe Diem" (Horace, 23 BC) and "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" (Alexander Pope, 1709). If happiness includes opposites, then it must include everything, or nothing.

What one person claims would bring happiness--wealth, fame, success, love, glory, honor, family--is anathema to someone else.  Having happiness, or nirvana, as the end goal, may be the root of the problem. A quick Google search for the definition of happiness is "the state of being content." Similarly, reaching nirvana provides "a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self." Both talk about states of mind that sound pretty selfless, that don't sound like what most people want when they talk about happiness. Where are the parties, the bubbles, the champagne, the gifts, the accolades, the adoration?

When I asked people recently what it would take for them to be happy right now, a simple If This, Then That, I got the highly specific "the ability to ski moguls well" and the nearly global "peace, everywhere peace." Here are twenty more answers and their variations that I got multiple times to the prompt,"I would be happy if I were:
  • thinner
  • healthier (healthier and maybe younger, but not too young. I was stupid when I was young)
  • warmer (much warmer)
  • rich, and blonde (definitely blonde) (still blonde)
  • more popular 
  • less scrutinized
  • sitting on a beach with a frozen drink in my hand
  • married (married to the right person) (in a relationship) (with someone else)
  • single
  • a mother (pregnant)
  • not a mother
  • somewhere other than here
  • with my friends (with my real friends)
  • by myself (alone)
  • at a new job (a job where they would appreciate me) (at a new school)
  • retired
  • at home
  • on vacation
  • anywhere but here (with anyone but the people I see everyday)
  • someone else (the person I was meant to be).

If you could be happy then, and happiness is a state of mind, why not choose to be happy now? Right now?



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I welcome your comments and questions and will do my best to answer in a reasonable time, though working on my next novel has to come first.