“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
Who knew Nathaniel Hawthorne was such a Zen guy? This sounds more like a quote from the Dalai Lama than one of America’s pre-eminent nineteenth century novelists, and the man who brought us The Scarlet Letter. However, in modern America, where busyness is often equated with happiness, it bears consideration.
We rush, rush, rush to accomplish as much as possible, but does accomplishment bring happiness? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.
Think about your writing career. Completing a piece of writing—whether a novel or a blog post—brings a certain sense of satisfaction. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of having written. The journey has its ups and downs, but the ending is sweet. At that point, do you take enough time to “sit down quietly” so happiness “may alight upon you”?
Career success these days stresses quantity. We are told we must be prolific in order to succeed. Every successful marketing strategy I’ve seen stresses the importance of producing multiple books every year, year after year. The best example is the three-book series, released back-to-back in three successive months. Obviously, each book is not written in a month, but one would still need to crank them out pretty quickly in order to be ready to do it again next year, and the next.
If a writer is capable of this level of productivity, it’s an excellent way to build a readership. It requires dedication, organization, and a tremendous level of plain, old-fashioned hard work. But does it allow time to re-charge, to sit quietly and let happiness happen? For those of us who are not Nora Roberts, this can be a quick path to burn-out. We think the frantic pursuit of higher sales will bring happiness, but will it? We’re all in different places. Only you can answer that question for yourself.
I don’t have an answer, but I do have this photo of a hummingbird at my lemon tree. To capture this image, I had to be still, sit quietly, and simply wait. I invite you to take a few minutes from your daily rush, take a deep breath, and let a little happiness find you.