Can moderation keep us happier?

Balance may just be the key!

Balance may just be the key!

Every age has its doctrines: capitalism, individualism, economic rationalism; and it is less uncomfortable to analyse those from the past with the help of hindsight, than those in the present. Spontaneous-and-Sentimental Marianne in Sense and Sensibility is an idealist. Remember she believed in truth and sincerity in all situations. She would not moderate her feelings whether they were pleasant or unpleasant. When she starts to fall in love with Willoughby she knows no way to proceed with caution. It is all or nothing. She cannot moderate either her inward or outward journey of love. Indeed, she sees to do so would be a wrong:

Marianne abhorred all concealment…and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions.” 

Do we need to look at behaving in a way that promotes self preservation, mental well being and long term happiness? Marianne learns too late that an unfettered trust in an idea or someone you have only just met can bring you unstuck. If we jump too soon we may end up very hurt. Moderation can keep us happier. A belief in truth and sincerity seems innocuous enough. But can it lead to harm? Marianne abhorred the social conventions. Rightly so. They can lead to the worst type of hypocrisy. But can  flouting them, and following unfettered hedonism sometimes lead to unhappiness?  The ending of Sense and Sensibility can be a little unsatisfactory to a modern audience, but is there something worth salvaging there?

Marianne was born to an extra ordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract by her conduct, her most favourite maxims.”

Sometimes in our youth we have strong opinions and then time and experience helps us to temper them. (Although we probably wouldn’t have it any other way.) Balance just may be the key.

3 Comments

Filed under Resilience

3 responses to “Can moderation keep us happier?

  1. Michelle Jackson

    Love the photograph!

  2. One of my sons was doing the dishes!
    It just shows we can be an individual no matter what task we are doing!

  3. kayeecee

    Marianne was lucky to have such a supportive and understanding sister, who stood by her through the best and worst of her times, constantly on watch, but also allowing her the freedom to act on her own values. Without this, would Marianne have been another Eliza. I think we are all fortunate if we have an Elinor in our lives, to be there when we ourselves are exploring Marianne’s all or nothing approach – just in case. Elinor provides the balance.

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