The Suitcase Lady


December 28, 2009, 6:43 pm

Thoughts on happiness seem appropriate for the end of the year. Recent science theories are raising the possibility that happiness may be hard-wired into certain people and absent in others. I offer no opinions here: I’m simply grateful to find myself in the happy camp.

Buddhists put huge store in happiness. The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh teach that “all people want happiness.” As much as I want to believe this, we’ve all seen people jettison any chance for happiness to get more power, prestige or money.

For those genuinely pursuing happiness (as guaranteed in our Constitution), the bookstores are brimming with self help books on the topic. I do have a hunch, however, that the contents of these books can be reduced to one index card:

  1. Figure out what you like, excluding items that are destructive to self and others. (Three hot fudge sundaes per day, for example, are probably not conducive to lasting feelings of well-being.)
  2. Do the things you like.
  3. Be oblivious to how others judge your choices.

My Aunt Jane was a life long tomboy who hated shopping and fashion. She happily resolved her wardrobe needs by getting out a mail order catalogue and buying 15 identically styled blouses and 15 identically styled slacks in a rainbow of colors. Every day she grabbed one of each item and never had to think about fashion again. Her fashionista sister reacted with pure sartorial horror to this brilliant and colorful pursuit of happiness. To which dear Aunt Jane replied, “I don’t care. It works for me.”

3 Comments for this entry

  • eve robillard

    Mary–Much to ponder here. I suppose some poor souls mistake money & power for happiness . . . I’m a tomboy but love to shop, but there’s something quite appealing about your Aunt’s idea. I’ve always admired people who have figured out their “look” and then simply stuck to it. Then again, I admire people who are more playful with their wardrobes, too. xxxevie

  • julily k

    I love your Aunt Jane. I have basically done the same thing. My insight on dressing came when I went to boarding school in junior year of high school. HIgh school had been hell, for many reasons, chief among them was trying to wear clothes that were seemingly acceptable to my high school female classmates. My joy in boarding school was discovering Uniforms. From then on, I have adopted some variant of that experience. For instance, in winter, I usually pull on any color socks, one of about 5 different colors of Deva cotton leggings, a turtle neck that kind of goes, color-wise (you’d be surprised what works.. I often am), and some boots, which choice is weather dependent. That is the winter uniform. Summer’s is a skirt (one of several colors), a scoop-neck t-shirt and sandals. Spring, Fall and dress-up (rare) are often a subtle but practical variation on the basic, also weather-dependent. Hooray for Aunt Jane and her Uniform Formula that has brought me more calm of spirit during my life than I have ever figured out how to wring from meditation.

  • Mary

    Whatever your formula, you always have the best looking outfits and true style…….I always look forward to seeing what you have created!