So this is definitely going to be a continued talk and review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, because I really did honestly just like it that much. Another theme this book explored, in a very discrete way, is happiness. The scene that sparked my thoughts around this is when Louisa is talking to Nathan (Will’s personal nurse) about Will’s happiness. She asks Nathan if he thinks that Will is happier since she’s come around, and Nathan states that he thinks Will just likes when Louisa is happy. This isn’t a revolutionary concept, but it sparked an important question. Are you truly happy just by seeing other people happy?
I can think of a couple potential examples, even though I haven’t experienced a lot of them. One that seems to fit the mold would be parenthood. I don’t have kids, nor do I want them, so I can’t be sure – but it seems as thought parents thrive off of their children’s happiness. I’ve always said the love of a parent for their child seems unfathomable to me, because I’m not sure children have the capability of expressing such love for their parents. Parents, generally, seem happy when their children are healthy, receive awards, thrive in social situations, and become successful adults. A lot of people talk about parenthood being the most enjoyable part of their life. It’s easy to see how a small human’s whole presence can help contribute or take away from a parent’s happiness.
However, I can also think of a couple of examples that might be contrary to this. Postpartum depression is the first that comes to mind. Acknowledging that this is a very serious disease that effects parents, generally mothers, after birth, their mental and physical well-being is not wrapped up in how well their child may be doing. It’s important for these parents to work on their own well-being, as a separate issue than the well-being of their children. There is also the example of the absentee parent. The image that society presents of parents are those that are involved and concerned about their children’s lives. As unfortunate as it is, that is not always the case for families. For some, children are a burden that contributes to a person’s lack of happiness.
Another, and perhaps the most relevant to the novel, would be happiness that is derived from the happiness of a significant other. Can you truly live a happy life based on the happiness of your significant other? For me, I find that when my partner is in a negative headspace or mood that affects me much more than when he is in a good mood. On the other hand, my favorite thing about people is the passion they show when they’re talking about something that is of great interest to them. When my partner is excited about something, that enthusiasm is contagious. It is often seen as dangerous and detrimental to have one’s happiness tied up in another person’s. Young women are often (sexist, because it’s far less common for men to be arbitrarily told this) told not to rely on a man for their happiness. While this is usually said out of concern for the person, it seems this piece of advice and what is typically “expected” out of partnership often differ.
I’m not really sure where I fall on this topic, but the fact that Me Before You sparked this train of thought is a telling of how powerful the novel can be for a person. What do you think about this?
Until Next Time World…
Very interesting thoughts. I have three kids and had post partum depression with each of them to varying degrees–most severe with my first. What I learned at that time speaks directly to this post here–I had to find my happiness within me. Yes, my children make me happy and seeing them happy makes me happy, but that’s not enough…at least not for me. I had to make sure I was focusing on myself as well. So while happiness of other can certainly contribute, it shouldn’t be an end all!
I think it’s an interesting concept, and a lack of happiness unfortunately affects a lot of people. Although it’s usually described as something easily attainable. I definitely think it’s important to focus on yourself, ESPECIALLY if you’re in a caregiver role of any kind (or as I assume parenthood is…a caregiverlife). Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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