The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

A Happiness Lesson from Claire Danes

Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.

danesThe September 30, 2013 issue of the New Yorker had an interesting piece, John Lahr’s Varieties of Disturbance, about actor Claire Danes.

Though I’ve never watched My So-Called Life (yes, I know this is unacceptable, and it’s on my to-do list), I do love Homeland, so I was interested to read the profile.

Danes was quoted saying something that really caught my attention.

“One of the lessons of her adulthood, Danes has said, was ‘that there is real honor in being a total goofball.’”

This struck me, because I’ve really worked hard, myself, to embrace my inner goofball. Not to worry about seeming dignified, or sophisticated, or knowledgeable, but to Be Gretchen.

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In this respect, one of my patron saints is Julia Child, and of all the posts I’ve ever written, one of my favorites is my encomium to her. She was goofy yet masterly, light-hearted yet authoritative.

Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.

Realizing this was part of my embrace of my love for children’s literature. And therefore it’s especially appropriate for me to quote, in this context, a great master of children’s literature.  In his brilliant essay, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis wrote:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Yes, there is real honor in being a total goofball.

Agree, disagree? In what way do you allow yourself to be a total goofball?

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Also ...

  • Blatant self-promotion: You've probably been asking yourself, "Hey, should I read Happier at Home?" Of course you should! Here are some reasons why you should pick up a copy. For one thing, my sister the sage says it's my best book.

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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