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Happy Thoughts

Ciardi’s essay on happiness shows incredibly clear how he views happiness and the twisted way people, Americans to be specific, view their own happiness. His view of happiness is partial, one can never fully be happy according to Ciardi. His example of that is us, Americans.

Americans basically want what they can’t have. Women want to naturally look like the photo shopped models in magazines. Or people want something new  to fill them with instantaneous joy.*** side note: why are people so happy to buy things, why does it make us feel good to get things, to collect them as ours?  People will blindly buy products based off of a silly commercial if it has some sort of promising, “life-changing” impact. Ciardi also mentions that people “deliberately” make themselves unhappy, a kinda create their own problem situation. And by buying things they might be able to fix their own problems. All to fill the invisible balloon that holds the idea that money is synonymous to happiness.

What he’s centering around though, is that the definition of happiness is highly subjective. It means so many things to each person. There is no way to swallow a word many think of as simple. He shows that happiness comes from the “pursuit” rather than the end. It’s more about the journey than the destination. I agree entirely. After our exercise over this past week in my English class I realized words are not as easy to understand and pick apart as I thought.

Also while reading this essay I was surprised about how many ideas of happiness he put into words in such a little amount of space. I could spend multiple pages trying to define happiness and not come up with the mirror he set in his essay. I am sad to say, though not surprised,  that I’m guilty of majority of what he talks about.

Referring to my earlier side note, I myself feel good after buying things, receiving money in general is a mood lifter for me. It’s not like I need it, I don’t have to pay bills or anything. I think I  probably enjoy the idea of receiving money for a couple of reasons. First, receiving money for chores usually makes me feel a lot better about having to do them. Secondly and most importantly money gives you options, and who doesn’t love to have choices. At my age I can only do so much and having choices is a gift. Also, being able to do something for yourself or buy items for yourself always feels good too. It’s shallow but it’s true that buying your way to happiness is common.

Another part I really agreed with is that happiness is “partial”. I feel like seldom people are happy majority of their time. Maybe I’m another pessimistic (hope not, no one likes a Debbie downer) but I think it’s more natural for people to be in an average mood. Otherwise how would we all appreciate happiness, which sounds cliché, but again I feel is true.

However, I would like to mention that I wish he had talked about different levels of happiness because I don’t think it’s a plain. There’s a difference between “I got an A on my report card” happy and “I’ve got the best friends in the world” happy. Because there are moments when I’m happy and then some when I’m overwhelmed with joy.

Either way he got across different takes on the idea of happiness and how they differ from person to person. and maybe opened my eyes a little that petty items should only serve as a “minor satisfaction” .




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