Resetting the Happiness Ceiling


“I don’t think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem.” Jonathan Safran Foer

All week I have been looking at a glorious, orange-bronze carpet of fallen leaves on a bright, forest green bed of grass. The wonderful colours of Autumn are calling me to store mental memories of the beauty to last through the dark, dull days ahead. Each day the trees are looking starker and the leaves on the ground turning brown and mouldering.

My son, on a recent tour of New Zealand, had a momentous encounter in a camper van with the ceiling of a multi-storey car park. The result was a badly damaged roof and a burst water pipe, resulting in a visit from the local fire brigade. The firefighters apologised for the inaccurate height signage and spent the next half hour giving excellent tourist advice on the not to be missed sights!  He tells the story with such panache and humour that the hefty bill incurred fades into irrelevance.

I’ve been wondering lately why we would limit our own happiness and whether it is time, personally, to crank the notch up a little. When I have a truly miserable encounter with someone whose happiness ceiling is lower than mine it seems so ridiculous and unproductive that it makes me want to stretch my ceiling even higher.


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