Category Archives: Resilience

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary!

https://happinesswithausten.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/984f6-vlcsnap-00049.pngA very minor character, Discontented-Wife Mary, in Persuasion, highlights Austen’s craft. Discontented-Wife Mary is an often disappointed and unhappy character. Recall she is a member of the self important Elliot clan who think they are above others. The 18th century was a hierarchy based on land and the Elliots were at the top of the status stakes.  In this society even the order of entering a room was based on the social hierarchy. As the daughter of a Baronet, Discontented-Wife Mary, could pull rank over her in-laws, and constantly did.  Continue reading

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In celebration of happiness day!

This week we celebrate International Happiness Day. More learned commentators will be able to guide us on how to achieve happiness but does Austen have something to contribute? Not only does reading her six novels delight but within the subtext there are some lessons on happiness. Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet is a case in point; he knows how to live contently despite a plethora of problems and a nightmare wife! Continue reading

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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  Continue reading

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What are the keys to a resilient life?

And if all fails there is always a coffee

And if all fails there is always a coffee

While youth is naturally more resilient, resilience is not just for the young. When young, time seems to go
forever and chances to make amends or change direction abound.  However, once over the hump of middle age, it
might not seem so easy.  Jane Austen’s characters reflect this. A small, and one might say inconsequential character, is Mrs Smith in Persuasion. Continue reading

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What about the contentment gene?

Alison Steadman plays Mrs. Bennet in Pride and...

Alison Steadman plays Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Canadian Pacific)

The contentment gene should be patented. But if not born with it, is there other ways to acquire it? Some have called it the happiness set point. Looking at our expectations might be a good place to start. Sometimes we need to be vigilant to ensure that our expectations are not fueling our unhappiness. Expecting little can ironically lead to a happier life as one doesn’t suffer constant disappointment. In our Western world we often grow up with a sense of entitlement. We expect to do better than the last generation. We expect to own a fashionable home, we expect Continue reading

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Was Austen’s life sheltered?

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often when reading excerpts about Austen’s life, there is a sense that Austen lived a sheltered life; that somehow she was immune to the difficulties of life. In reading about her life it is insightful to learn just how tricky Continue reading

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Fanny Price’s Resilience

English: Fanny cut the roses, detail from File...

English: Fanny cut the roses, detail from File:Mp-Brock-06.jpg Français : Fanny en train de cueillir des roses, détail de l’illustration pour le chapitre 7 de Mansfield Park, de Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the previous few decades, developing self esteem has been a guiding principle in child rearing. Only now are we realising that the downside to this ostensibly admirable philosophy is that we are not equipping our children with the tools to cope with adversity. This is where the term resilience, the need to accept life’s difficulties and then to adapt and change, has come into our lexicon. Fortunately many psychologists are now giving us insights into these old philosophies but it is illuminating that Jane Austen knew the value of resilience and her heroines and heroes actively practise its principles. Continue reading

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