9 MollyGreen.com | Summer on the Homestead | Summer 2016
He’s right, of course. Absolutely, positively dead-on right. I needed the kick-in-the-pants reminder.
Recently I re-read a favorite historical
novel, Avalon by Anya Seton. It takes
place in early Medieval England, late AD
900s to early 1000s, when Viking raids
were common. Brief synopsis of the last
quarter of the book: the main character, Merowyn, is kidnapped by Vikings
and taken to Iceland, where she weds
an Icelandic man and has a son. After a
period of difficult adjustment, she grows
to dearly love both her husband and new
home. Later she and a group of other Icelanders colonize Greenland, where she
bears a mentally handicapped daughter.
When her husband dies twenty years
later, Merowyn returns at last to England,
that gentler country she missed during
the cold bleak years on an ice-swept land.
As a widow, she must make do as best
she can and ends up marrying a man she
respects but doesn’t love. She thinks back
to the silvery-gold early days of her first
marriage and realizes she was happy then
and didn’t know it.
For some reason that phrase—she was
happy then and didn’t know it—haunted
me. And it made me wonder: how many
of us are happy but don’t appreciate it,
know it, or realize it?
"Happiness" is such a loaded and
multi-faceted word that no one can
really define what it means for them. It’s
different for everyone. Happiness can be
found even in places and circumstances
you may not like;
but it’s often there,
buried among the
less enjoyable parts.
Facets of happiness
satisfaction, pride of
can all contribute to
the overall qualities
of the emotion.
I think what haunts
me about the notion
of being happy and not realizing it is
how many of us let overall happiness
slide through our fingers because we’re
too concerned with little things we don’t
like. Anyone who takes their health for
granted and then loses it, for example,
will appreciate how much happier they
were when their health was good.
We all have a zillion things we would
like to do. I look for ward to when we can
make some cosmetic improvements to
our house—paint, replace ugly carpeting, sheet rock the walls, that kind of
thing. But we can’t forget that despite
the “fixer-upper” aspect, we have a nice
home that keeps us sheltered. And if we
lost our house, how much would we look
back at the ugly carpeting and unpainted
walls and realize we should have appreciated a solid sheltering home when we
The sad thing is when people place con-
tingency measures on happiness. They
stubbornly insist they WON’T be happy
UNTIL such-and-such happens. They
won’t be happy until they paint the house.
They won’t be happy until they get a dif-
ferent job. They won’t be happy until their
spouse changes to meet their particular
criteria. They won’t be happy until they
achieve a [fill in the blank] goal.
"Won’t" is a pretty stubborn word. What’s
preventing them from being happy now?
We all have goals, plans, and ambitions
for the future, and I think those are
critical (imagine how bleak life would be
without goals), but what’s preventing us
from enjoying the present now?
Dissatisfaction with some aspect of
now can prevent us from appreciating
many beneficial things, even if it can’t be
described as “happiness.” What about
contentment? What about the satisfaction that comes from fulfilling duties
and obligations, even if those duties and
“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person
to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun
during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover,
when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them,
to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom
reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness
of heart” (Ecclesiastes 5: 18–20). 1