Today’s Brilliance from Amy Shea

If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...

  • It takes poetry sometimes. Sometimes I have trouble, explaining directly about happiness.

    We have not been taught, after all, that happiness is not a soft thing whatsoever. It is not the blurred focus of the greeting cards. So we buy and send them off, a wish to be fulfilled by someone else. So easy, our favorite thing.

    So I tell people to imagine happiness as already there, with them, as waiting, as always-has-been-waiting, and not, as they imagined, a thing they wait and wait for to show up after all.

    That becomes too much for them. They order a drink, or jab a quick one-liner, and change the subject. They think to themselves, “who invited this odd-ball writer?”

    They change the subject because, as we all know, telling un-agreed upon truths is frowned on in social settings. Changing the subject, then, is listed under “social graces,” and strongly advised, and even rewarded with things like good opinion and the distinction of being a leader among less party-enabled citizens.

    But, it is still true, as all truths are, for real truths don’t care if they are discussed or not, or whether the light is on or off. They are confident, and have amazing patience. It is us who suffer as we sigh and whisper into our pillows, “I just want happiness, and nothing more.”

    And we wait for it to visit.

    And we imagine it looks like pretty things, or certain people behaving exactly as they should. We imagine things going our way, the way they are supposed to go, obviously, and as they would if others would just stop getting in the way. We imagine ourselves undisturbed.

    And we name this non-disturbance happiness, and know exactly its shape and measurements.

    And we say–again, into our pillows–“I will go and find it. Tomorrow.”

    And here we are, as we started out; here we are at the truth. So patient.

    Happiness is not the softness of pillows and having our way with things, people and places.

    Happiness is not a synonym for words like easy, now, and effortless.

    Happiness wears a thick motorcycle jacket, with road rash on the sleeves. It stares at things, to see just what it sees, and not ideas of things. It doesn’t say “he/she/they are responsible for me.” It never blames, does not complain. It does not explain itself, or where it’s been. It knows its purpose, and applies all its will to it–and what’s around the bend is of absolutely no importance.

    It defends itself, bravely, from all imposters.

    And when you, pillow talker, prefer the imposters with their secret cures and stories of easy street, happiness waits. When you wish it would leave, just go, just take its truth and hit the road, it waits. When you beg it, don’t stare at me from the mirror, happiness waits.

    It waits to be chosen. It does not leave you. It has faith.

    Go ahead. Turn your head to see its face. Any time now works just fine for it.

    Amy Shea

    Amy Shea's first short story was featured in a national magazine when she was just 13 years old. She has continued to write throughout her life, publishing frequently in literary journals and anthologies, and has received the prestigious Dylan Thomas Poetry Fellowship in Paris, France, sponsored by the Paris Review, as well as a coveted residency at the world-famous MacDowell Colony.

    Delighting in narration, Ms. Shea continues as a chronicler of human behavior, with her book, Defending Happiness, and other acts of bravery, published in July 2012 by Danzatore Publishing. In this collection she shares, with unsparing wit and candor, her take on mother/daughter relationships, parenthood, and the unfortunate lack of speed-bumps in online dating. Her hilarious account of aging, along with her tough and tender story of being diagnosed with breast cancer, take the reader on a deeply-felt ride, always focusing on defining happiness in our lives.

    In addition to her writing career, she is president of a brand research consultancy, where she helps brands use research-based insights to improve product offerings. Ms. Shea lectures on brands around the world, and is a recipient of a Great Mind Award in Innovation from the Advertising Research Foundation for her contribution to the body of knowledge on how to effectively measure brand communications. She has also shared an Ogilvy Award with her client, IBM, for her research work, and is co-author of the business book, The Certainty Principle, with Dr. Robert Passikoff.

    For more information, please visit

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