11 October 2010

William Morris on Happiness

It is interesting how Morris's words get around. On the "Happiness Project" blog—tied to a book of the same title by Gretchen Rubin—the following was posted on 9 October, accompanied by the photograph shown:
“The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”-- William Morris
I'm thunderstruck by the truth of this observation. In other words, mindfulness. Always mindfulness!
* Today, a reader commenting on the previous post mentioned TVTropes.org (and its addictive qualities). If you've never looked at it, check it out. Fascinating.
* If you'd like the new and improved starter kit for starting your own happiness-project group, for people doing happiness projects together, email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. If you're wondering why you'd want to consider doing that, read here.
It turns out that the quotation, from Morris's lecture, "The Aims of Art" (collected in Signs of Change, 1888), has been truncated into a single sentence and taken out of context. The ful passage reads:
They will discover, or rediscover rather, that the true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, in elevating them by art instead of handing the performance of them over to unregarded drudges, and ignoring them; and that in cases where it was impossible either so to elevate them and make them interesting, or to lighten them by the use of machinery, so as to make the labour of them trifling, that should be taken as a token that the supposed advantages gained by them were not worth the trouble and had better be given up. All this to my mind would be the outcome of men throwing off the burden of Artificial Famine, supposing, as I cannot help supposing, that the impulses which have from the first glimmerings of history urged men on to the practice of Art were still at work in them.
Creating the motto does not, of course,  deny the truth in Morris's statement, of course.

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