Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

IF YOU’RE HAPPY . . . . . . .
A little while ago I started this blog based on the kids’ song "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands". I got totally bogged down because I couldn’t get my head round happiness, contentment, joy, pleasure etc For a start, in your life, right now, would you or I clap our hands? 

There seems to be a tendency to equate happiness with materialism rather than an indefinable state of mind and I don’t just mean money.
Fell walking
I once spoke to a man who had lost his wife and only daughter within a few months. He said to get away from the loneliness he used to walk the fells in all kinds of weather. Cold, wet and uncomfortable. One day in the midst of a blizzard, just for a moment, he felt ‘happy’. From that moment he started to move forward with his life. I don’t know what it means but it suggests the feeling you get when you acquire a new car or win a game of chess is not happiness. The new car is a fleeting pleasure, the win lasts until you lose a game.

My mother had a highly developed sense of the dramatic and I remember her stories of the hardships during the strikes of the 1920s. Even as a pre-teenager I can remember sensing that in some strange way they were good times. Maybe it was because she was young, had young children, loved her husband - those things transcended the hardship and made her ‘Happy'.

I’m rambling again ! but bear with me.
In the wartime 1940s in my pre teens, Christmas was good. Maybe my Christmas stocking would contain some home made sweets, a couple books, a pair of nice warm home knitted gloves and a Dinky toy - what more could a small boy want?

However, the message I was bombarded with from well meaning adults was "Never mind, just wait ’til the war’s over and then we’ll have a real Christmas". Quite seriously, Christmas was ruined for me well into
Bah Humbug
adulthood - I constantly expected something magical. Just what, I didn’t know but the war was over so where was this wonderful Christmas? All I could see was more. Nothing to surpass the childish excitement of the Christmas morning stocking - just, disappointingly - more. I suppose that’s materialism.

I managed to keep my attitude to Christmas away from my children and turned it into family joke. So much so that only a few years ago I was given a special Christmas jumper.

Bill, who shares responsibility for these ramblings, came up with this:

I don’t have a lot of money thank God, if I was to win the lottery I would be worried to death on how to deal with it. Every month I check my bank statement, it is generally about the
Dining Out
same as the last month or sometimes a little bit more.

We are retired and our needs are few and we don't covet the things that are out of our reach. We can go out to a restaurant for an occasional treat, and have the odd glass of wine with our meal. In fact, we also consider our selves to be rich.

Every night when we jump (sorry,
crawl)into bed my wife invariably says “Aren’t we lucky to have a nice warm bed” I always agree with her , but I wonders is it luck or is it being thankful for small mercies?

Talking to my friend Steve about this he commented on an interesting phenomena he has that he calls 'inherited nostalgia' which is being nostalgic for a time he didn’t even know but was possibly to do with the number of stories and anecdotes being told by adults as he was growing up.

“Happiness and state of mind is a fascinating and complex subject but is at the heart of what makes us tick. Joy, disappointment, sorrow, anxiety and even that ‘can’t be bothered’ feeling; there’s a whole range of human emotional states that we have little control over. I reckon we have a 'tickover' default mode that just changes in response to either our environment or our interpersonal situation.

If everything around you is going smoothly and you are appreciating your friends and family then probably the best state of mind we can achieve in those circumstances is a feeling of contentment. So, what does being truly happy really mean? I think that it’s an imaginary state that we set as a goal for ourselves and the summit of which will differ from person to person. Is my feeling happy as good as yours or the bloke next door?

It’s interesting that you started writing the blog based on a children’s
Happy Child
song because I think children can experience a happiness level that transcends anything most adults can experience because they are free of ‘what ifs’ and wondering whether the bailiff is going to come knocking.

Now who’s rambling?!! It was only going to be a sentence to encourage you to carry on with the blog.

Another friend, William, told me his mother wasn’t a happy person.

“She was one of seven children and had a secure and happy childhood. The family lived on a miners wage, but her mother (my grandmother) was very careful with money and her dad worshipped the ground she stood upon. They never really went without. Despite this she was hardly ever really happy with her lot, and worried constantly about money etc.  My dad said she was never satisfied. They divorced in 1965!
Young coal miner

My dad's childhood was not a happy one. His mother and father died within a year of each other in their 40's. His seven brothers and sisters were split up between relatives. He won a scholarship to grammar school but it was decided they couldn’t afford for him to go so he went down the pit on his 14th Birthday

His idea of happiness were simple pleasures such as a pipeful of tobacco, listening to the wireless, walking the dog or playing dominoes with his
mates in the club on Sunday afternoon. 

Both my parents remarried, my mother wasn’t very happy but my dad seemed content with his lot. Me? I’m a mixture of the two. The little things in life make me happy, but little things can also give me sleepless nights.  Aren’t we complicated!”

There you are then. Started off rambling and it got worse as my friends joined in. Wouldn’t be so bad but we still didn’t reach any real conclusion.


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