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The Happiness Project: Enjoy Now

April 5, 2016

doctorow quote

Of writing, E. L. Doctorow said, “It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Before I jump into April, I want to look at one point in the March chapter on work, which Rubin entitled “Aim Higher.”

While setting goals is necessary for actually reaching them, it’s so easy to fall for what Tal Ben-Shaba calls the “arrival fallacy.” We sometimes miss the joy of doing what we love because we’re convinced once we finish, we’ll have achieved a bigger measure of happiness.  It’s human nature to live for the weekend, for spring break, for the end of the semester, for graduation. Postponing our own recognition of the joy along the way can result in disappointment. I’ve arrived. Now what?

We can’t always be engaged in vocations or avocations of our choosing, but when given the choice, choosing to do what we love makes sense. I know that even when I despised the endless marking of essays, I always loved teaching English. I knew I was in my element, working with students I loved teaching in a discipline I enjoyed and valued.

Finally, I appreciate Gretchen Rubins’ suggestion to make the most of small increments of time. If I wait until I have enough time to finish something I want to do, I’ll never start.  This past weekend at the Gathering of Poets in Winston-Salem, poet Joseph Mills pointed out that even writing five or ten minutes a day can produce a poem, a story, eventually even a novel. This works with almost any endeavor.  Why else are FitBits so popular? Being able to see how steps add up makes a person want to find ways to keep moving, even when walking a mile or two is impractical or even impossible.

A perfect analogy for me is reading a good book. When I’m caught up in a story, part of me can’t wait to reach the conclusion and another part doesn’t want the story to end. Either way, I’m always eager to pick up the next good book.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2016 9:18 pm

    Speaking of books . . . I’m reading the following right now, depending on my mood: The Jesus I Never Knew, You Should Have Known, and Tell No One. (How do I use italics on WordPress?) Plus I try to get to Jesus Calling every day. I keep ordering both Kindle and paperback books on Amazon. Two are coming next week, both thanks to you, Cuz. Also have a nonfiction on Southern writers arriving next week. I keep thinking of all the time I’ll have in the car in May and on the train in August. I know I’ll be reading!

  2. aandj8804 permalink
    April 20, 2016 4:02 pm

    That’s true. We often wait until we are done with something to celebrate or be happy without recognizing the choice of the process. Thanks for the reminder! (And I have to say that I too can never make up my mind on whether or not I want to get to the end of a book or stay in the middle! Some books are just that good!)

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