I've been thinking about disowning some of my genes lately. I have a few healthy, happy, long-living optimists in my family tree - most of them fans of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, a major champion of positive thinking. But I've got plenty of ancestors who played out more tortured hands.
The first person who ever told me that happiness was work was this manic-depressive artist I knew when I was in my 20s. I was like, 'What are you talking about? Happiness just happens. That's even the root of that word. How could it be work?
In all of my looking at happiness, one thing I noticed right away is that the opposite of happiness isn't unhappiness or even depression, it's anxiety. It is something that can constantly block our happiness, or our chance to reach that sort of meditative state in our work or our home lives.
It is a great paradox and a great injustice that writers write because we fear death and want to leave something indestructible in our wake and, at the same time, are drawn to all the things that kill: whiskey and cigarettes, unprotected sex, and deep-fried burritos.
Maybe it goes without saying that if you want to become a famous writer before you’re dead, you’ll have to write something. But the folks in my classes with the biggest ideas and the best publicity shots ready to grace the back covers of their best-selling novels are also usually the ones who aren’t holding any paper.