A Love, References and Wild Gratitude List
Also known as an annotated bibliography. Plus Twitter deets.
Chani Nicholas. Degree in Feminist Counseling from George Brown College. BA in Integral Studies from California Institute of Integral Studies. 20+ years studying psychological astrology. Currently studying Hellenistic astrology with Demetra George. And in her spare time? Studying, practicing and supporting restorative justice.
“We’re screwed and all anyone seems to care about is their spiritual journey and their artesian chocolate bar made by a fedora-wearing bearded 20 year old living in #Bushwick. Only the hippest can help us. Only the rich can afford authenticity. Only those that can ignore the violence that privilege inflicts will have the most Instagram followers.”
Camilla Nelson. Lectures in Media and Communications at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Specializes in creative practice, fiction and non-fiction writing, adaptation and history in popular culture. Published novelist and former (award-winning) journalist. Her books: Perverse Acts, Crooked, and On Happiness (coeditor; it’s a collection of essays).
These popular assumptions about happiness are quite culturally specific. They are also comparatively recent historically. Their origins can be found in the works of liberal philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and James Mill (father to John Stuart) who argued that people act purely out of self-interest and the goal to which self-interest aspires is happiness.
Bentham and Mill were political progressives in their day. Their ambition to ameliorate the existence of their fellow human beings perhaps disguised — for a time, at least — the fact that utility and self-interest might not be all there is to goodness or, indeed, to happiness.”
Desiree Adaway. Coach. Consultant. Speaker. Organization Builder & Storyteller. Building resilient organizations at The Adaway Group.
Medium: Desiree Adaway
Facebook: The Adaway Group
And you MUST follow her on Facebook. She is righteous, unpretentious, insightful and a full-on delight. As in, she live-FBs political debates AND Scandal. True story.
Justine Musk. Writer, speaker and creative badass. Her books: Kiss Me Deadly, Blood Angel, Lord of Bones, Uninvited
“Extreme entrepreneurial success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things. I learned this by witnessing the ascent of Elon Musk, from the time we met in college in our late teens to the end of our eight-year marriage…But if you’re extreme, you must be what you are, which means that happiness is more or less beside the point.”
We have turned the pursuit of happiness into big business. The irony is that striving to be happy often makes us unhappy, partly because we don’t know what to want. We miswant, which is the word psychologists use when we want things that we mistakenly think will make us happy (winning the lottery) or know will ultimately make us less happy (feeding an addiction).
The pursuit of happiness also keeps us focused on our own damn selves, which dovetails nicely with a culture fueled by hyperconsumerism and narcissism. It brings us temporary pleasures, but no real joy, and leaves us disconnected and miserable. Even spirituality can turn into “spiritual materialism” when it becomes what Chogyam Trungpa calls “an ego building and confusion creating endeavor” (the main purpose of which is to feel good and escape suffering).
Danielle LaPorte. Creator of The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul, author of the bestseller, The Fire Starter Sessions (with Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, poet, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place online for kick-ass spirituality,” and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes.
Those lives “of service” so many of us are trying to live… Service is being informed. Service is being enraged. Service is keeping your heart open even when you’re enraged. Service is being ruthlessly honest about the facts — and then choosing to be optimistic. Service is fuelling your optimism with action. (And yes, meditation counts as action.)
How do you not feel overwhelmed? Where do you start? You start by looking at the hard stuff. Feel the pain. Entertain despair. And then…pick a cause and fight for it. Buy less shit. Eat real food. Treat people really well. Pray. Send light. Send cash. Send more light. Pick up some garbage — both the karmic and material kind — and transform it with your attention.
Facebook: Danielle LaPorte
Sara Ahmed. Author, Professor in Race and Cultural Studies, Director at Centre for Feminist Research (CFR) at Goldsmiths, feminist killjoy. Her books:
- The Promise of Happiness
- Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others
- Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (Transformations)
- The Cultural Politics of Emotion
- Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism
- Willful Subjects
- On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life
“Indeed, in The Cancer Journals, Audre Lorde offers a powerful critique of how happiness becomes a narrative of self-care. Faced with medical discourse that attributes cancer to unhappiness and survival or coping to being happy or optimistic she suggests: “looking on the bright side of things is a euphemism used for obscuring certain realities of life, the open consideration of which might prove threatening to the status quo” (1997: 76). To obscure or to take cover by looking on the bright side is to avoid what might threaten the world as it is. Lorde moves from this observation to a wider critique of happiness as an obscurant: “Let us seek ‘joy’ rather than real food and clean air and a saner future on a liveable earth! As if happiness alone can protect is from the results of profit-madness” (76). Lorde suggests that the very idea that our first responsibility is for our own happiness must be resisted by political struggle, which means resisting the idea that our own resistance is a failure to be responsible for happiness: “Was I really fighting the spread of radiation, racism, woman-slaughter, chemical invasion and our food, pollution of our environment, and the abuse and psychic destruction of your young, merely to avoid dealing with my first and greatest responsibility to be happy?” (76). I think Audre Lorde has given us the answer to her question. And she offers us another answer in her question: to assume your primary responsible is to your own happiness might be how you end up not fighting against injustice.“ (emphasis mine)
Audre Lorde. (quoted from the Audre Lord Project): The Black feminist, lesbian, poet, mother, warrior Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a native New Yorker and daughter of immigrants. Both her activism and her published work speak to the importance of struggle for liberation among oppressed peoples and of organizing in coalition across differences of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age and ability. An internationally recognized activist and artist, Audre Lorde was the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit, which conferred the mantle of New York State poet for 1991-93. In designating her New York State’s Poet Laureate, Governor Mario Cuomo observed: “Her imagination is charged by a sharp sense of racial injustice and cruelty, of sexual prejudice…She cries out against it as the voice of indignant humanity. Audre Lorde is the voice of the eloquent outsider who speaks in a language that can reach and touch people everywhere.”
Her works include:
- A Burst Of Light
- The Black Unicorn
- Between Ourselves
- Cables To Rage
- The Cancer Journals
- The First Cities
- From A Land Where Other People Live
- I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities
- Lesbian Party: An Anthology
- Need: A Chorale For Black Women Voices
- The New York Head Shop And Museum
- Our Dead Behind Us: Poems
- Sister Outsider: Essays And Speeches
- The Marvelous Arithmetics Of Distance: Poems
- Undersong: Chosen Poems Old And New
- Uses Of The Erotic: The Erotic As Power
- Woman Poet—The East
- Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
“Was I really fighting the spread of radiation, racism, woman-slaughter, chemical invasion of our food, pollution of our environment, and the abuse and psychic destruction of your young, merely to avoid dealing with my first and greatest responsibility to be happy?”
*this specific selection of quotes by Audre Lorde was pulled from Sara Ahmed’s “Selfcare as Warfare“