Friday, September 4, 2009


What I love about folklore is the way with which it reflects society.Want to know what a particular culture thinks about something, check out its folklore. Remember: folklore is the lore of the folk, the everyday people who hold certain truths to be true.

Take for example Gretchen Rubin's recent Huffington Post blog about Happiness. The blog, 5 Tips For Happiness Reinforced By My Recent Family Vacation, is a list Rubin credits her family with creating.

This post is part a special project. Rubin is
a writer working on The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving every conceivable principle about how to be happy, from the wisdom of the ages to current scientific studies, from Aristotle to Ben Franklin to Martin Seligman. On her Happiness Project blog, she reports her daily adventures on her way to becoming happier.

The principles she references are, in fact, elements of folklore; societal interpretations about what happiness is and how it can be both achieved and experienced.

Happiness is subjective. It means something different to different cultures. So what does it mean to Rubin and the American society within which she lives?

Before we begin with Tip #1, notice here the American approach to happiness: vacation - the need to get out of the daily grind; to take a break from what is routine, etc.

So here's her first tip. What's yours?

Being on vacation reminded me of several things about happiness - the first being, remember to take a vacation! Especially given the technology these days, it's tempting to have a change of scenery and call it a vacation. But a vacation really means taking a break from work.

I was reminded of several other happiness principles, as well:

1. Fun is important to happiness. Is there such a thing as "fun for the whole family"? I think so, but I've learned that on vacation I need to make sure I make time for the things that I find fun - which in my case means reading. Sometimes I think, "Why am I just lying here, reading, on such a beautiful day? I should be going for a run/playing in the ocean/learning to play tennis." But it's a Secret of Adulthood - Just because something is fun for someone else doesn't mean it's fun for me. I love to read, and now I let myself read as much as I can get away with, given the realities of a family vacation. After all, I still do plenty of other things.

No comments:

Post a Comment