What would You Call a Happy Life? #SaturdayThoughts #Happiness

happiness is a choiceHappiness is a modern obsession. I’ve come across many articles that define happiness, an insightful Ted talk or two. (Check them out, they’re fascinating.)

Personally, I used to think think that happiness depended on where you were born. Your surroundings, the conveniences available to you.

It then became a sort of goal, something for me to achieve once I’d reached a certain milestone. That failed–because those goals didn’t bring me the happiness I expected.

Later, I thought family, friends, and relationships led to happiness. If you worked on making those great, you’d be happy.

Happiness is a choice For the past few years, I’ve felt that joy exists from moment to moment. How happy you are depends upon the quality of your attention, and what you turn that attention towards.

It is a relative thing, a chimera, something that depends entirely on your perspective. It is a Choice. A more difficult one to make on some days, but a choice, nevertheless.

Here are two pictures of happiness I saw this morning.

Community and contentment, despite stolen electricity and no sanitation, no education and no proper home.

Ask these people, and I don’t know if they’d say they’re happy, but this morning I woke up to laughter, sunshine and the joyous shrieks of children, and that definitely struck me as happiness. (Here’ my post on Instagram.)

What about you? What would you call a happy life? What is happiness? What is the secret to it? Do you think these are happy pictures?

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How Much Do You Read Online? #reading

Reading online has grown in leaps and bounds over the past years.

I get most of my news online. I read articles my writer friends post on social media. I read book reviews online, and also recipes. I read travel stories, columns, how-to-write-better-articles, even workshop class notes online.

This takes away from time reading fiction–I do read that too, both for pleasure, and well, because that’s my trade. (For the purposes of this post, I’m excluding e-books from reading online: when I’m on my e-reader, I’m offline. But that maybe different for others.)

I find online reading quite convenient: my phone is always with me, and I learn so much about the world, from genocide accounts in Rwanda to deforestation in India to book publications on topics as varied as astronomy and gardening. I also read fiction online, on the Forge Literary magazine which I help edit, and also many other magazines online.

The downside is, I sometimes justify spending time on social media: it makes me think I’m learning and growing.

That is only partially true, though. Some of the best minds on the planet are right now bent towards turning us into online addicts. So I’m wary of the online life as well.

What about you? How much time do you spend online, doing what? How has that changed your life from that of your parents, for example? How much of your reading is online, and does that affect your offline reading? Does it matter? What would you wish online reading were like?

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