What is happiness?
Big thinkers of the past tried, very clearly and powerfully to described it, giving an illuminating vision of it that maybe there is not anymore in our times.
I was thinking while I was reading this book that all the best inspirations are derived from the past and that the past remains much more vivid and a happy place where to fall for meditate than not what the present sometimes can offer us.
Starting from quotations and wise words of great thinkers, Haim Shapira in his book: Happiness and Other Small Things of Absolute Importance published by Watkins will try to define for himself and for the reader the concept of happiness, giving at the same time according to me thanks to the numerous quotations in the book the chance for the reader to find his/her own happiness. Yes, because happiness is very different from person to person. I am happy when I write a piece because I am a reporter, when I read a book, when I write a review and I spend good time with friends, when I go somewhere for a walk, or I listen to music or I take a picture etc but for another person it can be all the opposite.
This one doesn't want to be exactly a self-help book in the real sense of the word, but it is more a long talk about happiness, love, human condition, feelings, love, memory, the meaning of life passing through the erudition of the past and the great thinkers this Earth presented to us during the past centuries.
For the author as well, it was a meditative state in which he expressed his considerations about his feelings.
The first chapter analyzes the best attitude for being happy.
I appreciated a lot the density of the argumentations.
I loved in particular the Winnie the Pooh's philosophy of living called wu wei: without effort.
Living after all happily is a condition we can search for with simplicity because it's not so difficult!
Just: try to find good friends, force yourself to live a lot of wonderful adventures and the rest it's up to the destiny.
Choosing to live sadly is a choice like searching for happiness.
I loved a lot the anecdotes of the man who drove with his truck for 6 days for talking again with his sick brother recuperating so the lost time as would say Marcel Proust.
Powerful the fable of the ant and the grasshopper seeing under four different perspectives.
You will be opened to a lot of reflections.
Stoicists with their philosophy believed that a fact, an event, a situation can't be controlled but what it is important to discover will be our reaction at that peculiar situation.
"The ability to characterize small things as moments of joy is an art form" assures the author.
Of course I really enjoyed Walt Whitman and his philosophy of life.
What a positive and refreshing poet he was!
The words by Walt Whitman are powerful and they resonate through the centuries in the heart of people fresh, pure and felt as when he wrote them. In a poem called Miracles Whitman said that it's happiness "Walk the streets of Manhattan, stand under the trees in the woods, talk by day with any one...Look at strangers...riding in the car...Honey-bees busy around the hive...My own eyes and figure in the glass..."
Here the entire poem from the website: www.poets.org
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
Mentioned also our Saint Francis of Assisi with the legend of the Wolf of Gubbio, like also the story of his trip with the donkey and the moving words the saints said him. The donkey hearing these words started to crying. Saint Francis was famous for being very connected with nature. Rich, son of merchants, he abandoned his beautiful life for becoming poor and help the others.
I found pretty interesting the tale by Tolstoy regarding a man who wanted to buy some lands. A sad but meditative short tale.
In the section dedicated to love a definition of love starting from The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery, examining the love between the little prince for and with the rose and then the dispersion of love.
What is love if not a moment in our existence that we can perpetuate 'til the end of our days?
The author later will arrive at the Symposium by Plato and the purest meaning of love, passing through the sad and damned love of Paolo and Francesca and the spiritual one lived by Dante Alighieri for her Beatrice in La Divina Commedia.
The final section is dedicated to time and memory with lines from the book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and the dialogue between Alice and the Mad Hatter regarding Time and the Waste of Time.
Is time wasted? No, according to mr.Shapira.
At the end a sum of happiness. For finding our own happy world.
I want to thank the author for loving and appreciate our culture and Italy so badly. It's touching. Grazie mille.
I thank NetGalley and Watkins for this eBook.
Anna Maria Polidori