The generosity of happiness

The generosity of happiness

When it comes to happiness, women have a common resistance: Happiness is selfish, they say. But our refusal to be happy doesn’t make us compassionate. Our refusal to be happy just makes us mean.

My maternal grandmother was one of those people who made a conscious decision to be happy. Life had shown her privilege, but it had shown her fear and violence, too: War and abuse. She chose to focus on the privilege.

Her sister had a different way.

Growing up, I remember family members marveling at how different these two were, my grandmother and my great aunt. One a classic beauty, the other a wall flower. One a liberal Democrat, the other a staunch Republican. One basically happy and kind, even though she struggled with a mean streak. The other basically angry, even though she tried to keep it in check with inauthentic good manners.

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