10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings

This post applies to all book types EXCEPT horror. I’m fine with everyone being dead at the end of a horror book/ movie.

  1. I read to take a break from real life. While I don’t mind a good depressing book, life is difficult enough without reality intruding in my entertainment. A lot of bad things happen in real life, and we can’t always count on them ending well. It’s important that books end on a hopeful note.
  2. When I live with a character in my head for several hundred pages, I want good things to happen for them. I start to enjoy spending time with a character as if they were my friend. Therefore, I prefer that things work out for them.
  3. Sad endings can make me introspective, but happy endings are uplifting. When I’ve read a book with a roller coaster ride between the pages and then a happy ending that feels right (not forced), it can make me feel cheerful the rest of the day.
  4. I believe that most problems have solutions. What I mean by that is that often when there’s a depressing ending, it happens, not exclusively because of circumstance, but also because of people’s choices. I like it when a character engages in problem solving to find a solution to a problem, and I think it sets an excellent example for readers.
  5. I believe that people can be happy in spite of circumstances. What do lottery winners have in common with paralyzed accident victims? This is not a joke.  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… One year after the incident, they both tend to return to baseline levels of happiness. When a book has a happy ending despite bad things that happen, it means that people can triumph over anything. Happiness has to do with the individual, not the circumstances.
  6. They combat the negativity that seems to get the most airtime. I can’t get on social media without seeing something about some celebrity feud, someone complaining that someone is talking about them behind their back, arguing over politics. And don’t even get me started on the news. Ugh. If we believe the information we’re inundated with, we’re all the wrong shape or size, everyone is mean and wouldn’t give a glass of water to a dying man, and if you’re not “with” my politician, it must mean you hate me and everything I stand for. I don’t believe any of that BS. It’s nice to read about relationships working out, people talking through their differences, and people lending helping hands. It’s even nice to occasionally read about people discussing politics without creating Hatfield/ McCoy feuds.
  7. Hope matters. For those of you who don’t know about 13 Reasons Why, it’s a book about a girl who leaves a tape behind to be passed to the thirteen people she feels contributed to her suicide. It’s both a book and later became a Netflix series. It was under controversy because many teens cited the book as triggering them to attempt (or in some cases, tragically complete) suicide. If books can have such a negative impact, why can’t they also have positive ones?
  8. Happy does not equal shallow. I think that sometimes people equate depressing books with emotional richness and thought provoking, while dismissing books with happy endings. Do you know how much harder it is to be positive than to be negative? Try it sometime. Go forth in the world with a smile and a kind word for everyone, and see how difficult it can be. I love books that put a character through a difficult struggle and end up deserving the happy ending.
  9. Heroes should always triumph over villains. If we don’t believe that the light side of the force will always ultimately triumph over the dark side, then what’s the point? Maybe good doesn’t always triumph over evil in real life, but it should. Maybe the detective doesn’t always catch the murderer or find the kidnapping victim in real life, but he should.
  10. I want to feel like there’s a point. When I read a book that’s depressing for hundreds of pages, and then ends on a bleak note, I often feel like, “Well, what was the point of that?” We all know that bad things happen and that sometimes people never recover. It seems meaningless. When I see people suffer for hundreds of pages but ultimately triumph, I often feel like, “Wow, that person didn’t let anything stop them from reaching their goal.” When I did therapy, I used to ask my groups a question: What’s the difference between success and failure? There’s only one difference… the successful people never quit. If you try something 1,000 times, fail 999 of those times but only succeed once, people will call you a success. I like books that show that.

What do you think? Do you prefer happy endings or endings when things don’t work out? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reasoning?

H is for Happy Money

UnknownI think that Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, is the first (and perhaps only) non-fiction book to make the list.  I say “perhaps only” because I don’t have all my posts written yet, and there are one or two that are in competition for a letter slot.

The Haunting of Hill House lost to Happy Money in this case.  Sorry, Shirley Jackson.

Anyway, back to the point.

I’m a bit… frugal.  I buy a lot of my clothing at Goodwill, and feel that secondhand stuff is almost always as good (or better than) new.  Maybe that’s a legacy from my grandparents, who sold antiques and reproductions at flea markets.  (And my uncle, who currently runs Holly Hill Antiques… hey, it’s another H!)

Pretty much the only things I spend money on are books and notebooks.  I really love notebooks.  And pens.  Oh, and I love my laptop, but that’s not really something I regularly spend money on.  Seeing a theme yet?

Anyway, in Happy Money, the authors call on research that disputes the age-old claim that money can’t buy happiness.  Actually, it can.  But not if you buy stuff with your money.  Cars, houses, furniture, etc. won’t buy happiness.

In order to purchase happiness, one must buy experiences.  Those experiences depend on what each individual likes.  For me, I love any experience that involves going somewhere and seeing something new.  Bonus points if it’s something natural.

Because I’m frugal, I used to feel at least somewhat guilty about spending money on vacations or for consumable experiences, like concerts.  But after reading this book, I realized that the happiness I got from these experiences was an investment in my future.

If an experience has the ability to absorb all my attention, to transport me, to enrapture me, then it’s a good value.  I recently saw David Gilmour in concert.  It was relatively expensive, traveling to Los Angeles to see him at the Hollywood Bowl.  (He wasn’t playing locally.)

It was a show unlike any I’ve seen before, and live music is always better than pre-recorded music.  The Hollywood Bowl is an outdoor venue, and the music filled the air.  People sang along with songs, the drunk guys behind us bumped into us every 37 seconds and spilled beer on my backpack, and the electricity made my heart race.

I’ll never forget it.

There are a lot of things that are needs, and a lot of things that are wants.  In my opinion, experiences fall somewhere in between those two things.  Because experiencing things, both positive and negative, are what living is all about.

Maybe that’s why I love to read so much.  Each book is a little vacation, a new experience, a different way of seeing the world.  And that, my friends, is priceless.

“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
-Dale Carnegie

This Moment

Happy Monday, everyone.

Sunrise, Jerome AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Sunrise, Jerome AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Motivational Mondays, I post something to set the tone for the week.  Here goes:

“Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life.”

-Omar Khayyam

Or, put another way:

“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life.  Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.”

-Author Unknown

Even if everything else is going wrong, take time each day to enjoy something.  Enjoy that sip of coffee.  Enjoy the feel of soft gloves keeping your hands warm on a cold day.  Enjoy the song on the radio or that random person you heard humming “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Life is a series of moments.  Enjoy this moment.

Finding Yourself

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

“Be happy for this moment… This moment is your life.”

-Omar Khayyam

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

What does “finding yourself” mean?  Does it mean you’re lost?  Displaced?  Out of touch?

I think that people sometimes use this as shorthand for “finding out who I am.”

We focus on “finding,” as if there’s something hidden or lost.  As if there’s an answer.

But the happiest people I know, know that there isn’t anything hidden.  There’s no “secret.”  That’s the secret: that there is no secret.  There’s no one path to happiness.  In fact, happiness isn’t a goal or a destination; it’s not the ends to your means. It is the means.  It is the path.

What I mean by that is that sometimes I think we do things just to find an answer.  People go to church for an answer.  We go to school so we can “be” something or somebody.  We make money so we can buy stuff so we can “be happy.”

The fact is that as long as we chase happiness, we’ll never get it.  People who make more money spend more money.  The wise man doesn’t have answers; he has questions.  Work is not usually the most satisfying source of identity.  Most of us want to be seen for who we are, but the problem is that many people don’t know.

When you introduce yourself, most of us give our name and what work we do.  But though interesting, that’s not nearly the most interesting thing about me.  When my friends think of me, I’ll bet the first thing that comes to mind is how often I read.  They come to me for recommendations on books, quotes relevant to their lives or what they’re going through.  I write and like to talk about topics that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything.

I’m loyal and kind, sarcastic and irritable, superstitious and logical, contradictory and secure with my contradictions.

But I can’t be summed up by my qualities, and neither can you.  I’m never bored and don’t understand people who are.  I love drinking up a moment.  The other day, we went to see Blade Runner and then went hiking in the woods.  I enjoyed the loud, dark theater with the gritty tech-noir movie as much as I enjoyed the play of light and dogs splashing in the water.

The secret to happiness is to be happy now, today.  There’s no “when” or “if.”  Maybe life wasn’t what you wanted it to be, and maybe it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  Maybe it sucks.  When people are unhappy, they often want to prove it and justify it.  They list the reasons why they’re unhappy, which usually have something to do with family, job, relationship (or lack thereof).

You can spend time justifying why you’re unhappy, but why would you want to do that?  I believe you, that you’re justified in your unhappiness.  You don’t have to prove it to me!  But is that where you want to live?  Is that where you want to stay stuck?

We can’t change what’s happened to you or how other people treat you.  If you want to be happy, start looking for reasons to be happy.  Reasons to be happy are like seeds.  Sometimes they don’t look like much, but if you water them and give them sunlight, even a little bit, they’ll grow.  Sometimes what they grow into can surprise you.

“They tried to bury us.  They didn’t know we were seeds.”

-Mexican Proverb

If you believe you have reasons to be unhappy, you probably do.  But we all have stories.  There’s no use in comparing the stories, because the worst thing to happen to me is the worst thing for me.  Your worst thing might be different, but it’s still the worst thing for you.  Saying “what happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to him or her” isn’t useful because you’re only living your life.  I think it’s useless to compare your successes to others.  Just be the best you that you can be.  So why would you compare your sadness to the sadness of another?  It’s yours.  Personal.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t be happy.  Stop focusing on the things that make you unhappy.  If you want to be happy, feed what it is that makes you happy.  Read.  Hike.  Draw.  Walk the dog.  Pet the cat.  Volunteer.  Go to concerts or comedy shows.  Sing in the shower.  Or the car.  Or in your backyard… who cares what the neighbors think?

Instead of finding yourself, find what makes you happy.  Everything else will work itself out.


Enjoy Everything

On Motivational Mondays, I post something to set the tone for the week ahead.

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
-Charles Spurgeon

Here's a picture of a cute dog with a penguin toy, for your Monday enjoyment.

Here’s a picture of a cute dog with a penguin toy, for your Monday enjoyment.

Remember, all experiences have value.  When you put it in perspective and look at things as learning experiences, they may become less painful.  It’s Monday, not a firing squad. Find something to enjoy, even if it’s as small as your coffee, the sound of the rain, the feel of sunshine, or your favorite song.  Today’s tone is up to you.

Feel Good Friday

th-1Stray dog joins racing team.

A young woman reaches out to a family having a bad day.

Austin teen raises money for an automatic door for his wheelchair.

A child with autism asks for mail for Christmas, and hundreds respond.

Bystanders rescue strangers from an apartment complex.

Michigan cops and UPTV teamed up to hand out presents instead of tickets.

You get to choose your attitude today, and every day.  What do you choose today?  Do you choose to focus on what makes you happy and grateful, or what makes you sad and full of longing?

Feel Good Friday

I found some really good ones this week.  Take a minute and enjoy them.  Trust me, they’re worth taking the time to read and watch.

Lowe’s employees help a disabled vet.

Singer Colby Caillat is tired of being photoshopped.  This video really touched me.

Police officers buy groceries for a family in need.

Friskies releases “Cats of Summer,” a cute music video.  More importantly, they’ll donate food to homeless cats for every link click.

That’s all for this week.  Have a great weekend!

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
-Omar Khayyam