Short and Sweet: Getting From Here to Happiness


Here is something to think about if you plan to turn over a new leaf in the New Year; try a different road on your search for happiness. It comes from a 1967 interview with the movie director Ingmar Bergman for Swedish TV. He told this brief story in response to a question concerning the extent to which he thought about his potential audience as he wrote and directed his movies:

It seems that some time in the Middle Ages a Chinese wood-carver obtained the assignment of making a stand for the temple bells. He was ambitious and talented, so he set about his work. As he began to carve, his mind turned to the idea of all the money he would make for performing his craft. When he was done, however, the wood-carver realized that the stand he had produced was poor. He therefore began again. His head was soon filled with thoughts of how his completed carving would win him everyone’s love. Unfortunately, the second effort also went badly and he again destroyed his sculpture.

While making a third attempt at the wooden stand, the artisan imagined that the finished product would be so fine as to win him immortality. Furious and frustrated when he again failed to do a good job, the wood-carver started over once more. On this fourth occasion he had only a single thought in his head: making the bell stand; and in so doing, he gained love, money, and immortality.

The photo is a Temple bell of the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India, taken by Flickr user 3eyedmonsta, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Hope For the New Year: Old Words After a Tough Twelve Months

Its been a tough year, but not the first in human history. These old words from the great nineteenth-century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson seem just right:

“Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare us to our friends and soften us to our enemies. Give us strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death loyal and loving to one another.”