Reading and the art of happiness

As you know I have been reading a lot lately about how to make the best of yourself and life in general. Not only have I indulged myself for my own sake but I have found it very helpful with my characters. It has given me a more concrete base to explore behaviours.  Understanding what people do to be more successful, to be more creative or simply to be happier in life is invaluable for a writer’s development of tension and motivation, and thus the credibility of their characters.  It’s not bad for us in a more generic sense either.

Coincidentally my reading this week has been about the habits of people that are happy. This worked really well for me when at the fortnightly meeting with my writers group the subject came up because of the behaviour of one of my characters.  My female lead seems to be a bone of contention. My group questioned whether Lia could really live with such a difficult person, that person being Nico, and be content?  Delving into the topic sparked even more discussion. What makes people happy? What is it that they do to obtain that state? Is it event directed?  Is it a state of being we can maintain or is it fleeting?  Whilst my short story in our anthology (due out July this year) is along paranormal lines my novel is part of a romantic series.  Romances are notorious for demanding a happy ever after. Romance readers want the characters to experience supreme happiness and not necessarily just at the end.  They want the courting process to have that joy once we get over the first attraction tension blues.

I have always loved reading; found it both a soothing past time and thought-provoking. Fiction is an escape, and romances are a fantasy of excitement and love that we can live vicariously until the moment we close that last page in that last chapter.  Sitting at our spot in the Riverway Cafe and enjoying the tranquil surroundings our discussion centred on ways for me to give Nico a more solid platform with which to connect to readers.  The group has just done a heavy duty edit of my novel. This edit is a big one as I am almost ready to publish and in fact I would have done so except for some reservations about sections dealing with Nico.  He isn’t always nice to Lia, and in fact as I said he can be a most difficult man. 

One of the group members asked me to define the characteristics I think Lia finds in Nico to believe she can be happy living with him. Just as important to understand are the characteristics in Lia that soothe and settle Nico. He might not call himself happy but something suits, unexpected or not. Do you need to be a happy person to experience happiness, or do you have to be a certain kind of person who lives in a certain way that encourages happiness?  Is happiness a habit we can acquire by the right behaviour?  Lia thinks so. Consciously and perhaps subconsciously at times she demonstrates with patience and example that it isn’t that hard to be happy. Attitude is what makes or breaks a situation. Despite his arrogance Nico already does many of things that encourage happiness.  Subliminally he is prepared to receive Lia’s messages.

Nico is wise enough to follow some of the Wise Habits of Supremely Happy People  not because he has read the post but because I have. Travis Bradberry once again brings common sense to the mix and Nico has plenty of that so I combined the two.  The post explains the road to happiness is obtainable because the road is made up of simple elements, common sense elements.  For instance Nico knows to surround himself with the right people to support him.  He exercises understanding his body is important if he is to enjoy life.  Our instincts are wiser than our intellect if we take the time to listen, or read.

Likewise we, the real people, not fictional characters writers manipulate, can find happiness by being practical in the habits we acquire.   One of these habits is deep conversations. Lia has no hesitation indulging in these. It lends strength to her to do what she must in order to lead a life that will make them both happy.  Time and time again for me personally the ability for deep conversations has been my saving grace and kept me afloat.  Having the luxury of someone to talk to, someone to admit fear to and someone that encourages you to find solutions is liberating. You gain a much more viable perspective. My friend Julia who is a health coach talks often about health being as much mental as it is physical as it is spiritual.  Feeling good is made up of many things and they need to be in balance.  Her latest post has some wonderfully simple hints to better living. 

I like to think that having these conversations helps the other person as much as it does us and that brings me to another easy habit to get into – helping others.  Happiness spreads through people and this helps positivity.  In turn a growth mindset occurs.  The alternative is a fixed mind-set where there are no roses to smell because there is no time to grow them.   My writing group which by the way goes by the name Wordwick3d (how cool is the name) can see an improvement in my work. I owe this to the reading I have done, and to the people out there that make a great effort to simplify information for better reception. 
It does puzzle me though that as a reader I have always had the information at my fingertip page-turning fingers and yet I have been slow to act.  So have a lot of people so why do we not take it on board sooner?  My hero is a very logical person yet he fears happiness and makes a supernova effort to destroy what he has.  We may not be quite so ferocious yet we still stray off the learning path. I think I have finally worked out why and had to look at something in a whole new light – technology.

I have had my whinges quite frequently about technology.  Despite my protestations it isn’t my lack of ability to use it that upsets me, well yes it is but, and it is a bit but, that technology distances us from each other upsets me more.  Emails and face book are immediate but leech the personal touch out of communication.  Internet research pushes books aside with its speed, and its visual access to anything and everything even to banishing shopping trips to allow online ordering.  Yet all of these things also mean the outside world becomes an inside one.  I read a sentence or a paragraph, find it fascinating or not, press a button to learn more or completely change direction. Easier, faster access does put the message across in a much stronger fashion.  How can it not when it is virtually bombarding you with sound, colour, and images all adding up to an unstoppable instantaneous connection to our brain?  It is this easy access that has encouraged me to look deeper into my own motivations and feelings, and at my stage of life speed is good. 

I may never produce a best-seller, may not even publish (yes I will), but the feeling of progression that comes on a daily basis cannot stop the happiness bubbling, boiling more like it.  I just hope I can transfer my knowledge to my over bearing and bossy hero through my more balanced and people-orientated Lia so that my sexy brooder learns being happy has some real advantages.  I can only hope.

Alla prossima

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