Happiness: happiness in life and at work in 2021.

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Alba Pezone - Yumi family

As soon as I received the commission, I immediately reworded its title in the application. How to be happy, in life and at work, at a time like this? In fact, it is not a matter for me to say what happiness is (this, each of us knows, for ourselves), nor how happy we are today (I cannot measure or compare collectively with a before or after), but to tell how to be happy. So I have chosen to stay in the world of behaviors, which influence our thoughts, which influence our emotions.

"I try to do, in life, the things I like, and for some of them to become productive."

What you are about to read, about how I managed to find (because I lost it from time to time) the thread of my happiness, has no general value but only example value in which, perhaps, some of you will recognize yourself or, I hope, find stimulation.

Let me state right away that, personally, I do not distinguish happiness in life from happiness at work. My professional equation (I have been freelancing for several years) is more or less this: I try to do, in life, the things I enjoy, and that some of these become productive.

Having said that... When everything suddenly closes for an indefinite duration, and there is nothing, or so little, left of the freedoms of before, what do you do? What do you do when you feel that, in this closure, in-happiness lurks? (I don't like to write unhappiness, I prefer in-happiness, to keep denial separate and protect the integrity of happiness).

Pulling me out of the daze of the first confinement was a book, The barbarians. Essay on mutation, by Alessandro Baricco. Written in 2006 (visionary Baricco).
From the very first lines I knew it contained everything I needed. A jolt of life. In fact, a double shock. For the content (the book is an attempt to think) and for the form (of live writing). Baricco writes from inside the mutation, being in it. It is therefore possible, I told myself, to think, to understand, to move forward, to move, standing in the midst of a storm.

"It is (...) a cure," writes Baricco. In the great current, to put in safety what is dear to us. It is a difficult gesture because it does not mean, never, to save it from mutation, but, always, in mutation. For what will be saved will never be what we have kept safe from the times, but what we have allowed to mutate, so that it may become itself again in a new time."

I had therefore, was Baricco's invitation, to save my happiness by letting it mutate into Covid time.

This, the first lesson: To be happy, you have to keep thinking. If you think, you are alive. If you are alive, you desire. If you desire, you are on the side of energy and joy, expressions of happiness.

But if thinking is paralyzed and undernourished (no friends, no movies, no theater, no museums, no travel), what do you do? It is the body you have to get moving again. I decided to move in confinement. Not the occasional, indolent ice cream walk, which produces nothing in me. But the committed walk: fast, daily, minimum 1 hour. I knew that, sooner or later, the thought would follow (in the former world, I swam every day).

This, the second lesson : In-happiness is stillness, happiness is movement. To be happy, you have to move.

And so it was. Walking fast, new and happy thoughts, unexpected, never thought of before, came to the surface. More thoughts put together became reasonings. And the most tenacious reasonings became projects on which I worked, or am working. Not all of them have worked (but for me the ability to desire matters more than the satisfaction of fulfilled desire). I applied for a place I dreamed of having, couldn't have, and didn't get. But I did it so seriously -- for the three months of the candidacy I learned and imagined a thousand things, that many believed and supported me. I imagined a new book, to cross Italy from north to south, which will be published. I cultivated my passion for Procida, which will perhaps become the basis of a new venture. I also wrote this article that way, walking fast to the port of Naples.

This, the third lesson : When everything is missing, we are left with what we are. But we have to dig, in what we are. Dig dig dig, happiness comes out.

Hunger (desire, movement, introspection) is the best cook (for happiness).

Schopenhauer quotes this proverb at the end of The art of being happy. I am not sure if this is the main teaching of his little book of practical wisdom in 50 maxims. But it is the one that left the deepest impression on me.


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