The Happy Friday Series: Should Life Be Serious?

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.

~ Brendan Gill

Read that again. Roll it around in your head for a moment. Let it sink in.

Brendon Gill (1914 – 1997) was a writer at The New Yorker for more than sixty years. I have yet to read any of his articles or books (though I have his non-fiction work, Here at The New Yorker, on hold at my local library), but that quote has always stuck with me. When Jayme asked me to write a guest blog, it was one of the first things that popped into my head.

What if life really isn’t meant to be serious?

What if we’re missing the whole point?

I was especially delighted with Jayme’s invitation to the Happy Friday Series because she and I met over a conversation about happiness. It was 2009 and, as part of my pitch to win a writing contest with a “good mood” theme, I put together a fundraiser. Jayme was one of the very few people who stepped up to participate. We were complete strangers, and yet she raised her hand and got involved.

All these years later (Has it really been FOUR years?!?!), we are still friends; and – apparently – we are both still interested in happiness.

Happiness is a funny thing. Everyone professes to be pursuing it, but so many people seem afraid to express it. There’s a strange stigma attached to happy people. I wrote about this in a post on my marketing blog about the power of enthusiasm, “Sadly, happy people are often looked down upon … We assume that they must be missing something. We’re suspicious of people who smile too much. What image comes to mind when I say ‘village idiot.’ How about the expression ‘grinning like the cat that ate the canary’? See what I mean?”

People who seem too happy are often labeled as being “not quite all there.” We are more willing to trust cynics and pessimists. Something in our culture has trained us to elevate the worth of opinions that are based in negativity and doubt the veracity of the happy.

  • Let’s stop that.
  • Let’s start a new trend of trusting happy people.
  • Let’s make it acceptable to show your happiness.
  • Let’s dare to be happy ourselves.

Can you imagine the possible ripple effect?

Here is a video I originally shared on the blog where Jayme and I met four years ago. It’s guaranteed to make you smile. I hope you’ll share it far and wide and set some happiness in motion today.

 

 

P.S. Here’s one more bit of Brendan Gill wisdom, “The first rule of life is to have a good time. The second rule is to hurt as few people as possible. There is no third rule.”

Go forth and be happy.

 

Jamie Wallace is an award-winning copywriter and marketing strategist by day, an aspiring author by night, and a mom and hopeless romantic 24/7. Find her at suddenlymarketing.com or on Twitter @suddenlyjamie.

 

 

 

Image Credit: Image of dog by J. Star

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23 comments
jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

WHY WHY did I miss this...I love this. MS JAMIE OF THE SUDDENLY SORT

 

I'm a New Englander, girl. Aren't you a MAINER?! Then you know that here, if people are nice to you and you don't know them, it's weird. I am definitely suspicious of happy people.

 

Then I remembered that I do love to laugh LOUD and I love other people laughing loud, and I realized joy is an emotion that I enjoy in others.

 

Ain't no need to get academic about it. Jamie let's meet the next time BUB is in our part of the world. We'll travel.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Ah, joy and happiness, camaraderie and fun...something that the online world seems to be forgetting sometimes. This is a great reminder Jamie and Jayme, and if we all took a little more time to "spread it around", the world would be a better place.

I'm adding the happy dance, in honour of spreading some joy: http://youtu.be/p1d7Omb4fUI

 

Faryna
Faryna

Paulo Coelho was once asked if he is happy. He replied that happiness is not a permanent state to be secured but belongs to moments. He then explained that he will never be happy per se because he will always want more. To be better. To do more. To rise higher.

 

In the Nichomachian Ethics, Aristotle suggests that our search for happiness is our search for excellence - in our accomplishment of the highest states of perfection of our behavior, action, thought, understanding and capacity to love.

 

In spiritual teachings, it is also often said that true happiness comes a great cost. And that pleasures are often suspect.

 

Worst of all, in our pursuit of true happiness (to embody truth, goodness and beauty), pain and sorrow seems to be the most effective teacher. At least, this is what I and others have observed.

 

The village idiot is the one rejoices in his/her failures and who takes pleasure in the tragedy of something that suffers more than himself/herself. Like the cat that drags itself through life with its front legs because its hind legs were crushed under the wheel of a car. Their sense of humor is vicious and we are unable to appreciate their laughter at the expense of others.

 

The village idiot's pleasure in the defeat of others, however, is not the same thing as our appreciation for irony regarding our own vanities and self defeat - even as we observe the struggles and foils of others in their pursuit of happiness.

 

None of which means I do not desire to laugh more, smile more, and move with a joi de vivre. [smile]

AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog

I absolutely LOVE that quote... and really believe it. I mean, if you think about it... why else would there be so many stupid people doing stupid things and another bunch of people who spend all their time being cranky and angry over what those stupid people do...? Except... to give everyone a reason to take a deep breath and just enjoy... even if it is a chuckle, because yes, people really are THAT stupid.

 

Sigh.

 

I have been thinking non-stop about the ripple-effect, Jamie. I believe that we ARE making a difference, every day as more people join us, a big difference, in the world.

 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

AHHHHHHGGGGG! I have 666 livefyre points... hurry, like this comment so I can avoid eternal damnation! I'm taking this COMPLETELY SERIOUSLY!!

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

I also love the quote Jamie. It reminds me that I like it when people take their work and play seriously, but don't take themselves toooooo seriously. I disconnect from those folks really quickly. 

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

Happy Friday! I love that quote. Sometimes ambition for success turns people into serious frowny faces. My version of success is all about being happy. Without that...what is there? Nice post, Jamie!

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @jennwhinnem Ain't no need, indeed. :) 

Are you a New Englander now, or born & raised? I'm a north-of-Boston girl. If we're this close, we need to get together - BUB or no BUB (but, preferably with). :) 

 

You're right about the suspicious thing being particularly prevalent in this neck of the woods. We're an 'ornery bunch on the whole. ;) 

 

I'm learning more and more that having FUN and spreading FUN is what it's all about. I love to make people laugh or smile. I'll talk to complete strangers just to see if I can get them to grin. It makes their day, and mine, too. 

 

Off and running - SO glad you got here & kept the party going! :) xo

 

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @KDillabough Love that, Kaarina! Snoopy sure has some moves, and nobody beats that smile. :) Thanks for injecting a little more happiness into my Monday! :) 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Faryna Stan, I encourage your definition of happy for this series using this intense and indepth and thought-provoking comment as the bulk of the article. I can count on you to have perspective other than picket fence.

Latest blog post: We're Drowning In Marketing

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @Faryna I agree that happiness is not something to be collected and hoarded, but something to be experienced moment by moment. Perhaps that is why it is so elusive to so many - we have forgotten how to be in the moment and instead live always in the remembering of the past and the anticipation of the future. 

 

Like "balance," which is so fervently pursued by so many, happiness is not a destination, but a way of being. 

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @AlaskaChickBlog I couldn't agree more about the reality of the difference we are making. So many people all around the world are stepping back and realizing what's really important. They are deciding to be good to themselves and good to others. There's definitely a shift happening. I wish more of our media would provide equal time to good news. 

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @barrettrossie Yes. There's a difference between being dedicated to your work and play and approaching life with no sense of humor. I have personally found that passionate commitment to an endeavor often goes hand-in-hand with a huge dose of good humor and wit. It's a nice combination when you can find it! :) 

 

suddenlyjamie
suddenlyjamie

 @jeanniecw I couldn't agree more. Sometimes we lose sight of just what "success" is. What is it if not happiness? Wealth without happiness is not success. Fame without happiness is not success. We should start focusing on the happy part first!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jeanniecw Good Morning, Jeannie! Thanks for coming over to laud Jamie's excellent post. It would be great if you'd consider writing up "your version of success is all about being happy" for this series!

 

My goal is to go as long as possible without having to write a single post myself!! So far, so good!

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