After listening to the advertisement I wondered, what could Katie Couric or any of the other celebrities on the show have to tell me about finding happiness? Why would a celebrity be considered an authority on the topic anyway? I am not picking on Katie C. I'm sure she's a nice lady, but the thing is, I don't know her. Is she happy? By whose measure?
And what by the way would be the measuring stick used for happiness? Would it be riches or fame? Fast cars or long life? Does the word happiness even mean the same thing for each person?
A storyteller named Joel ben Izzy wrote a book several years ago called The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. A friend gave me a copy in the dark days after my mother's death, and it was just what I needed to read at the time. I have since bought and given away several copies of this book that shares the story of Izzy's journey through depression when he lost his voice. The message of his story, interwoven with the tale of the beggar king, is one we all need to hear--to learn to accept what is, to appreciate the life we have while we continue to strive. Izzy's version of happiness is close to my own, and his book put me back on the path to my own place of light.
The radio ad brought all this to mind and I once again considered what the word really means. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as "a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy," or "b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience."
Contentment and well-being. Those words have little to do with riches and fame, at least in my world. Contentment is sitting on the porch in my rocker and looking out at our burgeoning gardens, or watching grandchildren disappearing into the woods on an adventure. It's hot tea in a china cup and hot coffee in my travel mug. It's seeing snowfall and a fire leaping in the fireplace. It's my husband's smiling face as he fixes breakfast in the morning for the two of us. It's little things.
And well-being? The sense of being loved and of loving, the knowing that I am in my right place in this world, and that all those I love are also doing well, that to me is well-being. Good health plays a role certainly. The basics of survival--food, shelter, water, and love--are the also the basis of well-being. Wealth and celebrity do not provide well-being; security and support do.
Perhaps I over-simplify but I am a simple woman and my needs and wants are down-to-earth. I missed the radio show so I will never know what Katie advises on the topic and I'm not feeling like I have deprived myself of great knowledge by not hearing her take on it. I have defined happiness in my own terms.
But what about you? What is your secret to happiness?