“This Is Happy” by Camilla Gibb: A Book Review

This Is Happy by Camilla Gibb, is a resounding memoir, seemingly crashing through the barriers of the happiness movement, and continuing to help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. Taking on the challenge of explaining why mental illness may just seem to happen to someone we know, someone who even seems to have it all, by knitting together a story of family, growing up, health care, friends, education, travel, career, marriage, sexuality, a glimpse at people from around the world and babies.

Some people are ill, perhaps from being dropped so many times by loved ones that cracks remain, even after an attempt to fix what may be latently broken within. Toss in a few challenging life circumstances, maybe even the questionably wrong genes for a bit of biology. Yet again, pieced back together as best as possible, even while hanging by bitten fingernails and sometimes getting a mulligan. But to get back up again time after time, Gibb on repeat, says that she must “…stand. The Fuck. Up.”

“…Happiness is something that you catch and release.” Wise words from Shimon Edelman’s book The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life. Happiness is a feeling that we experience, just like all of the other emotions, such as sadness, anger, delight, joy, numbness, boredom – it’s all there to experience.

And if lucky, perhaps just accept feelings as they pass through, which is something I do along with my meditation, which I’ve been practicing for nine years now, would be a really great idea. A certain amount of acceptance of our feelings and of our flawed selves may be a requirement and it kind of tosses aside the happiness drive, an era that is to barf, really. Because, to be happy all of the time is unrealistic for many and I dare say to venture, for all.

Gibb wrote what needs to be said. That life can be imperfect, that it is a mixed bag of crescendo like highs and terrible blow lows. That like can be imperfect, yet there can still be happiness. And as for family? Our family are any of those people surrounding us who choose to hang in with us, to laugh, to cherish, to embrace us, to celebrate with us and to ride along with us even through the dragged down-and-out bumpy times. Yes, This Is Happy, is what happiness is really about.

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