happiness is

Eric Weiner says only a philosopher or a fool would attempt to generalize about happiness.

Christopher Hitchens, channeling Dr. Johnson, says only a fool would write except for money.

There’s two quick strikes against me, but here’s my foolish, unremunerated generalization:

Happiness is a day in June when school’s out, the kids are home, the weather’s fine, the bikes are oiled, the net is up, and the latest netflix disc is in the mailbox.

Not saying that’s the only answer, just one of ’em. Yesterday’s. Wonder what today’s will be.

Wednesday’s big adventure: a bike trek to Target, at Younger Daughter’s request. (All those birthday gift cards were screaming for her attention.) Not exactly the Tour de France, but enough hills and heat to make it an achievement for the likes of us. The shine’s officially off the Schwinn.

Then, back to the hospital. Granny’s surgery went well. Nice view of the Tennessee state capitol building from her room. The girls like eating in the Food Court.

Home in time for dinner, courtesy of our wonderfully thoughtful neighbor. Then another round of badminton, again at Younger Daughter’s request. You can expel a lot of aggression, smacking the birdie.

We  were disappointed when a couple of thunder-claps cancelled the free movie in the park we were planning to enjoy, but then capped our evening instead with a screening of the first Lost episode, at Older Daughter’s request. A disturbingly-gory plane crash (some of us had to leave the room), an unexpected polar bear, strange intimations of supernaturally-tinted evil. I’m not sucked in yet, but I would like to visit Hawaii.

My real generalization: happiness is what you make it. Don’t guess it takes a philosopher to recognize that. But maybe it does take just a little maturity, at least in the chronological (if not also the emotional) sense. Did you see the headline? Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says.

Worry stays fairly steady until 50, then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50, declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85. Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly at the end, but they never again reach the low point of our early 50s.

That’s really great news.

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