The Theory Of Happiness
Did You Know?
A 95-year-old piece of paper just netted 1.56 million dollars in a recent Winner's Auctions & Exhibition auction.
13 words and a signature on hotel stationary.
Who would pay that?
More importantly, what 13 words could say something worth that much money?
OK, you say, that makes sense, Mrs. A. He must've written something of huge worldwide importance that impacted world leaders and nations...and that's why it was so expensive.
After all, Einstein came up with the theory of relativity and such, right? Bright guy says amazingly scientific things - maybe it was a formula or something. But you would be wrong.
It wasn't a note to another scientist. He didn't write something to a world leader. It was to a mere hotel messenger in Tokyo, Japan who had brought something up to Einstein when he didn't have change available to give a proper tip.
What It Said
So he wrote the messenger a note instead.
Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe.
Which translates to:
A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.
As an author, this really struck me. I had just had a most satisfying conversation with another author the day before all about the two different worlds we live in as writers creating work. That some are living in a world where their work must lead to fame and fortune or else they feel a failure. Some are living in a world where their work must lead to benefit for someone else.
When people try to stand in both of these worlds, they are often left feeling conflicted and pulled in two directions.
With good reason!
If you are a new author doing tons of research on your genre, you might be finding that your youthful naive energy towards the craft is getting quelled with the weight of rules from those who are established and successful.
But are your ultimate goals aligned with theirs?
The Ultimate Goal
If this is just a passionate hobby rather than the only way you can support yourself, then you're in a totally different world than other authors. It doesn't mean you should discount ALL their advice. You might just need to stand firm in your world while looking at their perspective.
Throwing yourself into another's world when your ultimate intent is NOT to succeed in their world will cause nothing but stress to your writing.
Read that again - the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.
Now, you know those people. Ever monitoring every bit of analytics while cranking out word counts and cracking down on SEO for ultimate algorithm friendly content. They never seem to sleep, always at it with schedules and notifications and white boards, etc. And even when a book makes a great impact an sells well, they are too busy on the next projects to enjoy it at all.
Doesn't sound much like happiness as we naive indies dreamed of, does it?
But Calm And Modest?
Now, you might feel that the term 'a calm and modest life' means puny or boring. And who wants
to live a meager life not full of adventure? Look at what the Kardashians have going on with world travel, expensive clothes, exclusive parties, etc. It's so fabulous! Think if our books were polished enough and pushed enough to get us to that level!
Yet, if your book only brought benefit to a handful, would that truly be a waste? If your real life experience crafted into an inspirational book were able to change the life of even one young person...and I mean really change their life...for the better...wouldn't that make you feel good? Do you need the most exclusive clothes and airplanes before you're able to help another?
So when you read this 1.56 million dollar note from Einstein about happiness, consider what world
you are standing in or straddling. If you are feeling that the theory of happiness is eluding you, consider your true goal. If you need this book to sell or you will lose your house, you know the world you are in. If you want this book to bring benefit and the money and fame is not in your plan, you are in a totally different world.
As a writer this moment, are you happy?
Don't get confused of where you stand - it can stress you out unnecessarily. If there are areas of your life triggering restlessness, sleepless nights or worries about being a fake, examine the priority that has in your life. Do some introspective thinking about whether or not you really WANT to feel this way as a writer.
Do you want to write and be stressed about it day in and day out?
How could you change things to be one step closer to a less stressful, happier life one year from today?
What is your theory of happiness?