(Written 23 Dec 2011)

Dear All, 

As we approach the season of good cheer it may be a fine thing to think for a moment about Sam Levenson’s view on happiness from his book, You don’t have to be in who’s who, to know what’s what (1979).

“According to polls, happiness is no longer at the top of the list of personal priorities. To most, making the most of life means getting the most fun out of it. It seems that in these times people find happiness too difficult to pursue.

Fun is quick, immediate. Fun is easily available in toys and (computer) games of all types. Fun calls for a minimum of emotional investment.

Happiness requires nurture. It has to be carefully cultivated, often with pain, often with considerable unhappiness. It does not grow wild to be plucked at will by any whistling passer-by. It flourishes only when nurtured in soil rich in human possibility by people who believe beyond human possibility.

Happiness, in fact, pursues those who pursue glorification of existence. When the first sprouts appear in the early greening of happiness, they are more likely to make you cry than laugh. This is one of the basic differences between happiness and fun.

Happiness, like other men’s goals, may never come to fruition for an individual or for a society; but the effort at happiness makes one live greatly, even joyously … if not always happily.”