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Jane Armstrong

Editor's Introduction

When I posted the call for stories, essays, and poems about happiness, I didnít expect much of a response.  We donít do happiness very well, I thought.  Weíre much more adept with trouble, deception, entanglements, threats, betrayal, despair, and darkness.  And why not?  Just read the daily news.  Sometimes we can manage a ďhappy ending,Ē but itís likely to be ambiguous, bittersweet, or deeply ironic. 

So I was surprised to receive almost 400 submissions for this issue, all attempting to interrogate, contemplate, quantify, meditate upon the true nature and meaning of happiness; all of them were beautifulóa complete pleasure to read.

I canít say that I found any definitive answers to the questions I posed in the call for submissions, but isnít happiness found in the search itself?

I offer here 22 results from my search.  What is happiness?  Itís persimmons, pie after golf, your Darliní Pieís kiss, the unexpected pleasures of solitude, dancing with your children, bread crumbs, falling leaves, new love, familiar love, frozen squirrels, the silence of snow.  Itís also none of those things, but 500,000 other things listed by google.  Itís a subject too ridiculous and embarrassing for serious study, but you can seriously study its science at a major American university. 

What is happiness?  Maybe itís an attitude, a commitment to compassion, a mode of thinking and being, a way of viewing the world with kindness, even when everything feels so brutal and wrong.  And why not?

 Read, be happy, pass it on.


Jane Armstrongís work has appeared in Newsweek, The North American Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, New Orleans Review and elsewhere.  She is an infrequent commentator for National Public Radioís All Things Considered and an editor at PublicScrutiny.net.  She teaches at Northern Arizona University.

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