Month: July 2017

Happiness is a trickle of little happinesses

(Reprinted from 2015) In which I struggle against an urge to catalogue and dissect the little happinesses of everyday life.   Is happiness a warm puppy, in the immortal words of Charles M. Schulz in Peanuts? Or does a warm puppy bring a happy moment to brighten our day? Any science of happiness must include […]

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Developing characters: lift your eyes from the keyboard

“I am always criticised for my unrealistic characters,” said a writer nonchalantly. We were chatting in a cafe. “People say they’re not interesting.” I moved my eyes and saw seven other people, making coffee, drinking coffee, reading, working at tablets and laptops. “Do you ever look at strangers, and wonder about them?” I asked. “No. […]

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Inventing characters for that novel

I faced a crazy challenge with my latest novel, Fixing Mrs Philpott: 27 characters! How to even imagine them all, let about writing them with conviction! I tried a new trick, which helped enormously — I drew them all. I’m no artist, so I couldn’t very well draw people from real life. (They won’t sit […]

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Starter kit for a happy life at any age

(Reprinted from 2015) In which a skeptic succumbs to sheer weight of modern evidence about the foundation of happiness.   Here’s the nitty gritty message taught by the Science of Happiness MOOC from UC Berkeley. A surprising proportion of our happiness is under our own control. If you score a person’s happiness out of a […]

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