A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a book to read about happiness from the perspective of various dead (mostly) white (mostly) philosophers. I finally have begun to give it a read–maybe a couple of pages at a time, but it is not a terrifically long book so I may finish it sometime. One good result of this is that I think about being happy more than I have been doing over the last few years. Today I had one of those inadvertent thoughts that come along occasionally and that thought led to the question of whether we just plain can decide to be happy.
I am actually not going to even attempt to answer that question–at least not until I have finished reading the book (if ever I do). However, the inadvertent thought came about (I think) because of an encounter at my local this morning, so I am going to tell you about that encounter.
Walked in, was pleased (but wouldn’t say exceptionally happy) that there was no line and that my usual chair was available, and one of the people I say hello to was there. All of that was quite nice, but the happy came next. The barista was wearing a white collared shirt (more of this sartorial stuff, sorry) and had on a tie. This was not a normal tie, if such exist. It was an exceptional tie. A rather large bow tie, it was. But the really happy thing about the tie is that it was a striped bow tie, and it was a tie that just made my mouth turn up into a big smile (even though that makes all of the wrinkles show more than usual). Without even thinking about it, I was happy. But that wasn’t the end of the story. I told him I really liked his tie. He told me that his mother had given it to him a year or so ago, and that she had found it while on a vacation to Italy, wandering down a street filled with vendors. He said she saw it and just had to buy it for him (now this is not a particularly young man about whom we are speaking–upper middle-aged married [I say because his hair is gray] with maybe grown kids). I immediately had a mental picture of the sighting, the joy that she must have felt when she knew she had found the perfect gift for her son, and I can almost see his expression (and his kids’ expressions) when he saw what his mother was offering to him. And, saw in the gift the person she knew him to be, and was apparently delighted by that sight, because he actually wears the tie even when his mother is not there to see.
So. First, I was happied by the sight of the tie, and then I was happied by the intuition that this was one very happy family being represented by the barista, and finally, I was happied by the knowledge that I was happy at that moment and for a while after.
What do you do when get all that happied? You come home and do your happy dance, sing your own secret happy song, and purr to the cat as you tiptoe through the tulips in your home. I am not sure that I decided to be happy. I know that I was happy, and that I am happy right now as I relate this story. Picture me happy, and hopefully that picture will make you smile and be happy too.