Choose Happiness

Friday, February 13, 2009

The winds that howled through yesterday's poem never did stop blowing. Even now, dawn, they're out there scuttling, overturning, knocking down the limbs of a favorite front-yard tree (I cradled its carnage yesterday, thought of the leaves that will now never green and singe, the birds that will not roost).

The weather made for mood. I couldn't put my head into the heat and dust of a cortijo outside Seville, because every time I began to dream sun, I'd hear a gutter banging. I sought to distract myself with client work, but the clients seemed to have been displaced by the wind. I moved onto another project, but was temporarily foiled by technical difficulties. I started to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz's latest, and got caught up studying the sentence structures of the first purposely dense page, and that page was a wall, and I couldn't get past it. (Today I will.) And then I went to the dance studio to dance, and everyone, it seemed, had been affected by the wind. Everyone, and also the dancing.

Later I remembered what a friend had said, a few days before: "It's easier to be in a good mood than a bad one." Easier, I thought, and I tried the theory out—spent what was left of the day and night inside a swell of happy. After five minutes of trying I tried no more. Happiness breeds happiness. It breeds calm, inside of storm.


Unknown said...

The wind was pretty down-putting for me yesterday.
I have heard the saying about being happy but sometimes I find it acutally easier to be sad than happy.

Beth Kephart said...

Lilly — oh, it's true. It takes enormous energy to shift your mood, from one thing to the other, in either direction. I always have this chant in my head, Today could be your last day. And so I try to live it that way—reaching out, looking for sun.

You are going through a really hard time. Sometimes it is just impossible succeed, even trying very hard, to find joy each day.

Charlotte said...

Wind scares me. The rose bush was clawing at the kitchen windows.

I have heard that the physical act of smiling actually forces your brain to release seratonin (sp?), leading to an uplift of mood. Also, after grinning like a hyeana for 15 minutes, it is such a pleasure to relax the facial muscles that one feels better.

Liviania said...

I know how true this is. I spent a year very sad, then decided I was going to be happy. It wasn't long at all that I wasn't pretending and got asked (in a hostile fashion) why I smiled so much.

Em said...

Yesterday in yoga, during a particularly intense move, my teacher told us to smile. She said that often we get bogged down in the doing of things and forget to enjoy them. She said that smiling would make the move much easier...and it did!

Your post made me realize that I could bring that into my daily life as well. Thanks for the reminder! I'll be smiling and thinking of you today. :)

Sherry said...

That sounds ferocious.

A different kind of wind blew here yesterday. Leaves on trees didn't move, but I stared at sentences in books, kept hitting re-wind while watching a quiet movie, and spun my wheels trying to do chores.

Beth Kephart said...

Charlotte, the wind is scary. It stole the lives of two nearby yesterday and nearly killed a friend. But what you say about smiling is true...I read that study as well.

Liv and Em: Living proof of the power of smiling.

Sherry: You make me smile. I've been spinning lately, too. I just keep changing rooms.

Keri Mikulski said...

So true. Love this post. :)

Becca said...

We had the same wind blowing bitterly cold here on Thursday, making it's way to you for Friday. Oddly enough, I like the music of a howling wind -as long as I'm tucked up safe inside.

Unknown said...

Hi, I pulled together a site for Oscar Wao with some translations and pop culture reference definitions - hopefully it will help!

Beth Kephart said...


That's pretty wonderful! Thank you.

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