But what does
happiness have to do with writing?
Happiness sometimes gets a bad rap in creative communities.
There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the tortured artist trope. After all, as writers, we want to know what’s really going on beneath the surface. We want to know how people really feel, what their challenges are, how they wake up in the morning and move through grief or sadness. How we break and how we become whole. Real and true emotion fuels us, our characters, and our ideas. So sometimes, the idea of happiness can feel as though we are merely skimming over what’s real, aka what’s difficult or challenging.
But in doing this, we forget that joy and happiness, in their true form, are perhaps the most powerful — and least understood — of all emotions. They are so powerful that any hope for happiness is one of the first things taken away from us when the power-hungry are in control.
Why? Because true happiness isn’t dependent on outside validation or buying something other than food and shelter. True happiness is simply a state of being, a state of a deep and abiding sense of kindness, of compassion, of purpose, and of worth. It doesn’t feed into greed or fear. It’s hard to exploit or control. It is its own revolution. With this in mind, happiness doesn’t just equal more creativity; happiness equals power.
If you’re getting stuck on the idea of “happiness” and what that means, you’re not alone. Happiness is notoriously hard to define. Here’s the Writers Happiness shorthand: think of happiness simply as the deepest thing you want more of in your life, the thing that underlies all other wants. Maybe you call it peace, maybe contentment, maybe understanding. The more of that we are able to cultivate, the more we can write whatever it is that only we can write.
Science is finding more and more that a state of high energy and positive emotion seems to be an excellent foundation for improved creativity, easier time management, and the ability to find meaning — all things imperative to writers. These studies also show that regardless of our hardwired or learned emotional state, any of us can train the mind to perceive more happiness on a regular basis.
Please do not think that any of this means you have to be cheerful 24/7. Not at all. True happiness doesn’t mean we never feel sadness, grief, fear, anger, rage, loss, or any other emotion that is part of life. For many of us right now, these are truly hard times, with far too much blatant cruelty in the world. It’s important to remember that true happiness doesn’t pretend this isn’t so. True happiness is, rather, a state of knowing that there is beauty and joy in the face of it all, and then actively letting that beauty and joy be accessible. It’s about feeling the luminosity of life regardless of what else is happening.
True happiness also helps us to see ourselves, our art, and our lives with more clarity, thus allowing us to notice how and when we might fit in pockets of writing time. This kind of happiness exists deeper than anything external. It’s the baseline from which we move, an understanding of joy and gratitude and love paired hand-in-hand with an understanding of sorrow and pain and the suckier things in life. It allows us to show up for all of it while still staying filled with, and rooted in, love and joy and kindness. It reminds us what we’re capable of. It not only lifts us up; it gives us the strength to lift others up, too. And, as writers, it lets us create our very best work.
Thanks for being part of this small wave of joy. May it help you write and live and remember who you are.