It is sometimes wonderful to be able to shut your door and keep your daily life free of other people’s inquisitiveness
Simone de Beauvoir has just turned twenty years old: by settling in Paris, in a boarding house run by her grandmother, she finally gets the freedom she had dreamed of during her years of study... She recounts this installation in the second volume of her autobiographical work.
I was lost in a transport of delight. When I was about twelve I had suffered through not having a private retreat of my own at home. Leafing through Mon Journal I had found a story about an English schoolgirl, and gazed enviously at the colored illustration portraying her room. There was a desk, and a divan, and shelves filled with books. Here, within these gaily painted walls, she read and worked and drank tea, with no one watching her—how envious I felt! […] And now, at long last, I too had a room to myself. […] I had a table, two chairs, a chest which served both as a seat and as a hold-all, shelves for my books. […] I kept myself warm with an evil-smelling kerosene stove. Somehow its stink seemed to protect my solitude, and I loved it. It was wonderful to be able to shut my door and keep my daily life free of other people’s inquisitiveness. […] To have a door that I could shut was still the height of bliss for me.
[…] I could read in bed all night, sleep till midday, shut myself up for forty-eight hours at a stretch, or go out on the spur of the moment. My lunch was a bowl of borsch at Dominique’s, and for supper I took a cup of hot chocolate at La Coupole. I was fond of hot chocolate, and borsch, and lengthy naps and sleepless nights, but my chief delight was in doing as I pleased. There was practically nothing to stop me. I remember how tickled I was when I got my first salary check: I felt I had played a practical joke on someone. I discovered, to my great pleasure, that “the serious business of living” on which grown-ups had held forth to me so interminably was not, in fact, quite so oppressive after all.
I wish you endless dreams and the furious desire to make some of them come true.
I wish you to love what you need to love and forget what you need to forget.
I wish you passions, I wish you silences. I wish you bird songs on waking up and children's laughter.
I wish you to respect the differences of others, because the merit and value of each one is often to be discovered. I wish you to resist the bogging down, the indifference and the negative virtues of our times.
Finally, I wish you never to give up research, adventure, life, love, because life is a magnificent adventure and no reasonable person should give it up without fighting a hard battle.
Above all, I wish you to be you, proud and happy, because happiness is our true destiny.
- 1968 -
Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.
To be happy is to learn to choose. Not only the appropriate pleasures, but also his way, his job, his way of living and loving. Choose your hobbies, your friends, the values on which to base your life. Living well is learning not to respond to all the requests, to prioritize your preferences. The exercise of reason allows a coherence of our life according to the values and goals that we pursue. We choose to satisfy one pleasure or give up another because we give meaning to our life - in both senses of the word: we give it both direction ...
To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you, not something that you magically discover in a top-ten article on the Huffington Post or from any specific guru or teacher. It doesn’t magically appear when you finally make enough money to add on that extra room to the house. You don’t find it waiting for you in a place, an idea, a job—or even a book, for that matter.
Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress—the solutions problems ...