How long did happily-ever-after last for Cinderella?

This week, I’ve been thinking about Cinderella.
I’ve been thinking about her a lot, wondering how long she stayed "happy" after she landed the Prince and the castle? Was it eternal bliss, or did she eventually go back to worrying about more mundane matters, like pesky royal in-laws, or her pecking order at court? In a real-life example, Princess Diana certainly showed us that sometimes there's nada happily ever after.

By way of background, I should say that, of late, things have been going pretty darned well for me. Maybe not fairy-tale well, but definitely “pinch me—is it real?” kind-of-well.

Here’s a partial list of my current blessings:

My family is healthy and happy (this one has to come first on anyone’s list).
I have several great friends.
I have a new mystery series coming out.
I was recently gifted with a second house, a killer sports car, and some enviable bling.

Life, as they say, is good.

So you’d think that I’d be wandering around the house all the time with a big, goofy grin plastered across my face.

Instead, I find myself scrabbling for things to worry about. Like, how do I guarantee that my second book will surpass the first? Is my college-age daughter locking her doors at night? When is the Big One going to strike California (and what’s the deductible on my earthquake insurance?).

When nothing else works, I’ll watch CNN and fret about global warming, wondering if I should have eschewed my nice little Z4 for an earth-friendlier Prius.

I once read about a study that found that people have a default level of happiness—or unhappiness, whichever applies. This study posited that, long term, a change in an individual’s life circumstances is irrelevant to his or her “happiness” level. Oh, their moods will have ups and downs, depending on unknown and unpredictable factors such as a sudden trauma, or winning the Lotto. But according to this study, almost no matter what happens, most people eventually return to their original state of happiness. I recall the researcher saying that even someone hit by a devastating injury, such as Chris Reeve, probably eventually regained a semblance of his original level of happiness.

That must be why my mind is foraging for things to feel down about: life has removed some of its former obstacles, and somewhere in my brain, a gray cell is itching to even up the score. But from now on, whenever it does that, I’m just going to shout it down. Down, avenging brain cell! Down!

One reassuring thing: Cinderella seemed happy as a person, even before she met the Prince (at least, she was in the Disney version of the story). So odds are that this particular couple did live happily, ever after.

Anyway, that’s the fairy tale.

What about you? Do you have a “level set” of happiness (or unhappiness) that you eventually return to, no matter what brickbats or bouquets life throws your way?

Guilty pleasure of the week: The Biggest Loser

As a former fattie (okay, granted—I still have a ways to go—but at least I’m no longer morbidly obese), I experience a vicarious thrill whenever I watch Bravo TV’s The Biggest Loser.

As I watch a three-hundred person lug to the top of a seven-story tower, huffing every step of the way, a part of me cringes inside, thinking, “How can they put themselves out there like that?” But a part of me cheers them on, and gets caught up in the suspense as they step onto that scale at the end of the week to find out which team lost the most weight.

Confession time

Last year, when the producers of The Biggest Loser tempted the show’s dieters with a malevolent tower of cupcakes, I wanted to throw my diet tools in their general direction, to exact some payback.

So…?

So here’s the question: why am I so drawn to this show? I think it’s because it amplifies the everyday drama of my bathroom scale—Am I up? Am I down? Am I winning the battle? Losing?—writ large. Writ very large.

Fat people, it turns out, are the stuff of prime-time drama. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll sign off with a quote from no less an authority than The Bard himself:

Let me have men about me that are fat,

Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights: Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

On the other hand, I suspect that Cassius was a much more dramatic character than the “men…that are fat.”

Food for thought.

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Comment by Kathryn Lilley on October 25, 2007 at 10:55am
Alas, not beyond the realm of possibility, Karen!
Comment by Karen Anderson on October 24, 2007 at 4:27pm
That is so weird. A friend of mine commented this evening that Snow White was a slave of seven dwarfs...this got me thinking of other fairy taies heroines, and wondering, indeed, what become of Cinderella after she married the prince. Did she merely trade a wicked stepmother for a wicked mother-in-law?
Comment by Karen Anderson on October 24, 2007 at 4:27pm
That is so weird. A friend of mine commented this evening that Snow White was a slave of seven dwarfs...this got me thinking of other fairy taie heroines, and wondering, indeed, what became of Cinderella after she married the prince. Did she merely trade a wicked stepmother for a wicked mother-in-law?
Comment by Kathryn Lilley on October 3, 2007 at 9:28pm
Ooh, I like that saying, Tom! Words to live by. And thanks for the good wishes!
Comment by Tom Barclay on October 3, 2007 at 4:38pm
My esteemed spouse is fond of this saying; "Happiness consists not so much in having what you want as wanting what you have." Envy and avarice are the engines of many plots.

Happy launch day! We'll be be looking for DYING TO BE THIN.
Comment by Kathryn Lilley on September 24, 2007 at 12:58am
Thanks, Dana! And thanks for stopping by!
Comment by Dana King on September 23, 2007 at 10:43am
I suppose I do have a basic happiness level, but it has definitely changed with time, as my character and personality have evolved. I think it's a good point, though, and goes a long way toward explaining why some people can attain the greatest desire and still be disappointed. They thought it would make them happy, when the only thing that could make them happy was themselves.

Good luck with the series.

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