herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Marisa Mackle: Happy New Year and other wishes

Happiness is not on my list of New Year's resolutions. In my opinion happiness is unachievable. It's just not a sustainable emotion. You can have moments of happiness, of course, but you cannot be happy all the time.

You would not be human if the only emotion you felt was happiness. If you grinned all the way through the nightly news you would clearly be a burger short of a Big Mac. It's important to feel disappointment and frustration now and then, as it makes you stronger, more determined and a better person.

I would feel sorry for somebody who merrily danced by a homeless person shivering in the street. It's not okay to think 'I'm alright Jack, pity about everyone else'.

I often read celebrity interviews where famous people say they are really happy right now. It sounds kind of vacuous. And I often meet people who say they don't care about money as long as they are happy. Maybe so, but not having enough to pay the bills never made anyone happy.

A lot of people seem to ram their forced happiness down other people's throats. I don't buy into it. I believe that it's perfectly possible to be a well-rounded, contented human being -- but to want to be happy all the time? It sounds a little false. I wouldn't want to be happy from morning to night. I wouldn't like to read about people losing their lives in car crashes and think to myself, well, as long as I'm happy . . . Being happy, seems to me, a very selfish thing to want to be sometimes.

So I need other resolutions this year. Obviously, because I'm a woman, I have losing weight as a priority. Same as last year. A half stone would be grand. Isn't that what we all want? To lose a half stone? Ask nearly any Irish woman if she would like to lose a half stone and you will rarely hear one say, 'ah no, sure I'm grand the way I am'. But skinny people don't look happier than fat people, do they? It's hard to be happy when you're totting up calories in your head.

If you're making New Year resolutions, aim high. I remember writing 'getting a book published' as my number-one resolution. It may have seemed like I was reaching for the impossible at the time, but my wish came true. When you write something down, it's no longer a dream.

It is so therapeutic to make a list. Put some immediately attainable goals on your list -- like spring cleaning your house. Then when you do that you can tick it off and feel satisfied that you've achieved at least one goal. It will motivate you to keep going. The same year my first book was published I also got a cat. 'Getting a cat' was another resolution. Then the cat had kittens and suddenly I had lots of cats. My book was published and I was expected to write another one and another one. My 13th book is out next month.

'Getting a man' was also a resolution one year. One promptly came along but then disappeared again. I was left holding the baby. These days I'm a mummy surrounded by cats and lots of books bearing my name. I could have been more careful about what I wished for . . .

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