Advent: A Time To Reflect Between Thanksgiving & Gift Giving - Ten Tips To Happiness

Posted at 10:37am on 2nd December 2008

I woke, yesterday morning, feeling bad-tempered. This is a rare occurrence and is almost alwaysas a result of my husband’s snoring! There’s something deeply offensive about lying next to someone whose somnolence – loudly and bed-tremblingly declared - is the sole reason for your inability to sleep. Don’t you think?


But that wasn’t the only reason I felt bad-tempered. Truth be told, I went to bed feeling ever so slightly irritable – partly because the seams of my favourite jeans have parted company; partly because A1 vision in threading a needle to mend them is now something I can no longer take for granted; and mainly because I’m dieting! So you can understand, I’m sure, that the addition of sleep deprivation meant that any feeling of contentment was conspicuously absent! Never mind the bad tempered ladybird story: I felt distinctly waspish.


My mood was quickly dispersed, however, when I drew back the curtains. A silver sky embossed with deep purple, blushed, unhurriedly, to a gentle rose pink. You couldn’t help but be infused with an aesthetic appreciation of nature and all things creative.

I wrote, recently about how we, in the Western World humorously define happiness as sex or chocolate. But with the American Thanksgiving Celebration last week and Christmas looming in less than a month, I've found that new definitions have been thrown up in a kaleidoscope of website wisdom and internet intellect. Overwhelmingly, the advice is that money can’t buy you happiness. So once again – as someone with an abiding contentment in life – I find myself not only trying to define happiness, but to capture and convey its elusive qualities. And this is what I’ve come up with:

  • RELIGION: Most of the religious systems of the world teach the need for contentment, but many rely on self-imposed regimes. Denial is one – to achieve a state of nothingness. The development of acclamation and habits is another – to convince oneself of a sense of wellbeing.
  • COMMUNISM: Karl Marx, credited as being the founder of Communism, stated that ‘religion is the opiate of the people’. To which I would respond: can numbness equate to happiness?
  • PSYCHIATRY AND PHILOSOPHY: Both recognise the benefits of happiness to the human psyche – but rely on learned techniques to achieve changes in behaviour, and often fail to impart the principles in an enduring manner.
  • MEDICINE: Medics, too, subscribe to a belief in the physical and mental advantages to be found in emotional equilibrium, but often create reliance on pills.
  • GOVERNMENTS & COMMERCE: Intent on encouraging prosperity for Western societies, both encourage a belief in materialism and consumerism as the means to happiness.


What strikes me about this list is that almost all rely on an outward expression of their own beliefs, values and feelings. They demand action on the part of human beings: either through denial of needs, or indulgence in wants.

Happiness, in my view, is an inner state of mind which is not, necessarily, dependent upon circumstances, any premeditated action on my part, or on the behaviour of others. Yet it is, above all, a response. And at this time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a good moment to reflect on what it is we’re responding to.

  1. Happiness is the grateful acceptance of the Christmas Gift.
  2. It’s the recognition that we none of us deserve to be treated to this Gift.
  3. It’s the acknowledgement that though the Gift is priceless, that price has already been paid.
  4. It’s having the grace to receive with open hands and hearts.
  5. It’s the certainty of knowing that however unlovely you may be, you’re loved by God, if by no one else.
  6. It’s the assurance of feeling valued – not for what you do, but for who you are.
  7. It’s the joyful, spontaneous welling up of love for all you’ve received
  8. It’s an impulsive and inexhaustible appreciation of all that the Creator has created.
  9. It’s an overwhelming urge to give – out of the abundance of what you’ve received.

PS If the above is not your experience, find someone for whom it is, and attach yourself to them!

PPS: The view is from my bedroom window - but not yesterday. It's not hard to understand why I'm so appreciative, is it? Even at this time of the morning! (You can see the street light still on bottom left.)

Your Comments:

Post a comment:

No HTML allowed. Web URLs will be auto-linked. Please stand by your comments; anonymous posting is permitted but not encouraged. Your email address will not be published, nor will it be distributed. Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the editor has approved them. They may also be removed without notice or explanation.

Related Posts

Posts on related themes:
» Life, Faith & Other Stuff
» Personal Growth
» Self Help

My Latest Book

Picked for a Purpose

Available in paperback from my books page
Buy Your Copy

Find the Real You...

Start Now
Take a FREE
Personality Test

BBC Radio Devon Interview

Listen to me chatting to Dave Fitzgerald about my latest release, Chosen, on BBC local radio.

Recently On Twitter

@MelMenzies Will You Play Author Squid Games?
tweeted by ThePRExpert
on 17th November at 15:51
@tomi_token Don't miss this amazing project in the world of cryptocurrency. #TOMI means WEALTH. Just jump in. You w…
tweeted by Jhonsensales
on 29th October at 12:16
@tomi_token Don't miss this amazing project in the world of cryptocurrency. #TOMI means WEALTH. Just jump in. You w…
tweeted by Jhonsensales
on 29th October at 05:12
Follow Me on Twitter

Who's online?