Happiness is.

Since May 2006, every year for Mother’s Day my family has reluctantly agreed to be photographed. They, my husband in particular, are very unwilling subjects. They, my husband in particular, also know that photographing them makes me happy. When I’m happy, everyone’s happy, or so I’m told.

In college, my friend Steve once told me I was too smart to be happy. He wasn’t being unkind or unpleasant, and it may have been meant as a compliment. I haven’t the foggiest idea what we were talking about, though I suspect it was comparative literature, which we of the black coats, cigarettes and Camus took so seriously back then. I hadn’t thought about his comment in more than 25 years, and then one of the Wednesday Wisdom quotes from “The Daily Pessimist’s Calendar” brought it to mind.

“The Daily Pessimist’s Calendar,” available exclusively at despair.com, is my favorite Christmas present from last year. It’s funny and clever and full of delicious ironies. Discovering each morning what the new day’s page will bring is a moment of pure delight. Many of the daily calendar entries are included or expanded on the blog, appropriately named “The Pessimist,” which includes the hilarious “50 Shades of Meh” and “The Pessimist’s Guide to the Sequester.

I love The Daily Pessimist because it’s the perfect foil for genuine happiness. It’s a constant reminder that truth is stranger than fiction.  I love The Daily Pessimist because it reminds me every morning that happiness is a choice, not some naive perpetual giddiness. It’s the conscious decision to be peacefully content, fully aware of the alternatives and acknowledging life’s ebbs and flows.  It’s a child’s belly laugh amid the torture of a photo session, on an overcast Mother’s Day.


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