How To Be Happy
How To Be Happy is a collection of emotionally complex stories centered around the search for happiness. It is the impressive work of the cartoonist and illustrator Eleanor Davis. She opens with an author's note, "This is not actually a book about how to be happy. I've read a lot of books about how to be happy, however, and if you're struggling, the following have been helpful to me." She lists:
Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg
This sets you up for the world you are about to enter, one of anxious and troubled souls, all seeking peace, purpose, and clarity. There are no easy answers - characters are devastating, funny, and painfully heartfelt. Yet they do not feel completely hopeless, and offer a sense that one simply goes on. I especially enjoyed In Our Eden, about a modern Adam and Eve from current times trying to recreate the bliss before the fall.
In Nita Goes Home, an adult daughter living in a glass-domed commune visits the toxic outside world to visit her father on his deathbed. She reconnects with her sister and young niece and despairs over the pollution, incessant advertising and lack of any natural world. She returns home to her pure environment, but it seems spoilt with the knowledge of the suffering of others.
In Darling, I've Realized I Don't Love You a couple speaks so honestly it hurts. "If I loved anyone, it would be you, but I love no one." They trade selfish, painful truths and when it seems the obvious next step is to separate or divorce, instead they look at one another and decide to have a baby. In No Tears No Sorrow a woman attends a boot-camp workshop where an instructor leads a class on how to cry. She struggles and struggles, but when the tears do come they have no end.
This small drawing below I found to be the most hopeful and inspiring of all the works. It's a good mantra to have in trying times. Find the stories that make you stronger, because we are made of stories, and they can build us up.