“Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling; true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents.” John W. Gardner
“Storybook happiness” — it’s so seductive, isn’t it? The pleasures of “pleasant thumb-twiddling” are all around us: The forms of distraction we can turn to in order to keep ourselves from the work at hand are endless: Chatting with friends, checking our email, being out and about running errands, making ourselves comfortable so we can get into the right mood to write. I’ve used all of these thumb-twiddlers myself. How about you?
And yet, in the end, these moments of pleasure, while pleasant, often seem to disappear, to turn to wisps of smoke and just evaporate — we’re left with a little faint buzz of enjoyment and nothing more. Or worse still, the sense that we might have used those lost moments more fully.
“True happiness” is something else again, isn’t it? John Gardner says it so well: “True happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents.” Dr. Rob Gilbert, my friend and mentor,* makes a distinction between pleasure and fulfillment that speaks to this. He talks about pleasure in terms of fleeting enjoyment — the “thumb-twiddling” distractions, the “storybook happiness” that we chase after, often enticed by the media.
But fulfillment is something more — it’s the “true happiness” we experience when we are fully engaged, when we are fighting the good fight in a realm we’re passionate about and grappling with something difficult that we really care about — something that pushes us to dig deep and really tap into our “powers and talents.”
Yes, we all need to engage in the world — that’s where much of our inspiration flows from. But sometimes, when we get lost in a haze of outward activity and “pleasant thumb-twiddling,” we lose sight of what we really and truly want. So let’s keep our eye on the ball today. Let’s keep our “thumb-twiddling” in check and tap into our “powers and talents” — that’s where true happiness and the deepest satisfaction flow from. Write on!
*Be sure to check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline: 973.743.4690