A Reminder about Happiness from 1662.

Here’s the passage that I read:

“This day by God’s mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate; and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any is in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers and to bed.”

Diary of Samuel Pepys, February 1662

(That phrase “And so to bed” was a signature sign-off for Pepys, a seventeenth-century version of Cronkite’s “And that’s the way it is” or Ryan Seacrest’s “Seacrest…out!” or my “Onward and upward” at the end of each episode of the Happier podcast.)

I love this passage, and it inspired the resolutions for the month of November in The Happiness Project. I resolved to “Keep a contented heart,” because I realized that no matter what’s happening in my life, I’m going to be happy only if I “have a heart to be contented.”

One of my most frequent faults is fretfulness — annoyance and complaints about minor inconveniences or little mistakes or oversights by others.

One of my main aims is to remember how happy I already am. Do you struggle with this?

I have Eight Splendid Truths about happiness, and the Fourth is: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.

Of course, many argue the opposite case. John Stuart Mill, for example, wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” I disagree; I think most of us don’t spend enough time thinking how whether we’re happy or how we could be happier (at least I never did, which is why I wrote The Happiness Project). What do you think?




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