THE PROBLEM OF HAPPINESS
by
H. M. The Queen of Roumania
The Quiver
Edited by Herbert D. Williams
Volume 60, pp. 650-655
Cassell and Company, Limited, London, 1925




HAPPINESS! We all run after it; how many find it, I wonder? How many know when they have found it? For most human beings live in the anticipation of to-morrow or in the remembrance of yesterday. The strong alone grip hold of to-day and love it.

When we are young we all imagine that happiness is a concrete thing, a thing due to us, that we must be able to see, to grasp, to possess. . . .

Which is Right?

The Indian poet says: "From joy are born all creatures, by joy they are sustained, towards joy they progress and into joy they enter!" This is a more optimistic way of seeing life than "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Which is right? Both perhaps; but it needs strength to believe the first strength of character on, strength of will, yes, strength of will, for it needs will to be happy.

Straining after To-morrow's Joy

I have seen beings running after an impossible happiness, straining after a joy that tomorrow must come to them, or the next day, thereby quite overlooking the happiness lying within their grasp. Others have I seen shutting themselves off from the realities of life so as to ignore all grief, building a screen around themselves, putting on blinkers so as to see only the happy side of life. Those indeed imagined themselves born out of joy, but when grief came (for neither screen nor blinkers can keep it out) down fell their house of joy and they stared at its ruins and had no strength to face the hour of disaster. . . .

I, too, with the rest of humanity, have strained after happiness, imagining that it was this or that—imagining especially that it was there, just in front of me, a thing to grasp, to possess.

But happiness cannot be grasped; it does not come to us in concrete form. Besides, its face changes with the years and the seasons that pass. The child's happiness is not the same as the youth's, nor the youth's that of the riper man's, and neither of these is that of the old man sitting out on his porch in his arm-chair, allowing the sun to kiss his bent white head and his folded hands.

The youth sees no happiness in that picture, but perhaps the old man loves the sunshine as once he loved the wilder, more passionate joys of his youth.



In Picturesque Roumania

The Queen of Roumania, with her daughter, Princess Ileana (seated), her daughter-in-law the Crown Princess (right), and the latter's sister, Princess Irene of Greece (left). Photographed at Castle Bran, in Transylvania. The castle, which was originally built as a fortress against the Turks, was recently presented to the Queen by public subscription.



The Queen of Roumania

Standing beside an old carved cross at Bran in Transylvania, regarded in the locality as conferring luck on those who kiss it.



Happiness Lies Within

Happiness lies within us at our own heart's core—I do not say that riches, pleasure, ease, comfort, beauty do not add to happiness, but I do declare that none of these are any good to us unless we feel them from inside, unless happiness mounts like a song of love from our souls.

Happiness! It can be found anywhere, everywhere, in the simplest thing, in the simplest act. You can read it in the eyes of the ragged man breaking stones at the side of the road, and you may search for it in vain on the face of the millionaire seated at his gorgeously decked table, surrounded by guests as rich and prosperous as himself. The stonebreaker's lot may not seem enviable, but perchance he finds more satisfaction in the warm sun overhead, in the song of a thrush in the bush beside him, in his meagre evening meal and rough bed after a hard day's work well done, than the rich man hurrying, straining after the new joys, new pleasures, new excitement his money can buy him, but in which his surfeited nature can no more find any satisfaction.

Diogenes found happiness in a tub warmed by the sun. He had discovered that it was not outward things which give happiness, but the inner content of mind, the philosophy of hoarding up no treasure that thieves can break in and steal, or rust and moth destroy.

The Great Secret

No doubt the world would stand still were we all to be as easily satisfied. I for one need a little more space than a tub, though I do agree with Diogenes about the sun. Thank God I live in a sunny country! And there you are! I have learnt to love what I have, and that is the great secret. At first I did nothing but pine for the country I had left, spreading my sadness around me, revelling in it, hugging it to my heart, allowing it to obscure all good close at hand. Now I accept sadness as an inherent part of life, but I no more enjoy making the most of it, and when I can, I keep it out of other people's lives.

The old saying, "Pleasure shared is pleasure doubled," is one of the truest that were ever written. What use my riches, my success, my talent, my joy, unless I share it with another or others? What use my day unless I have made someone happy, helped someone, given someone pleasure, be it to man, child or beast?



As Soldier and Horsewoman

The Queen of Roumania wearing her uniform as Honorary Colonel of the 4th Regiment of Rochiori.



A Lover of Animals

The Queen of Roumania photographed with some of her lovely dogs on her country estate at Sibiu.



A Forgotten Truth

Two sisters have I known: one was beautiful, clever, fascinating. She drew men's desire towards her; she mightily desired all the bright, gorgeous, rich things of this earth. She craved to be more beautiful, more wealthy, more witty, more courted and admired than any other woman on earth. But she had forgotten one truth which we cannot get away from: it is more blessed to give than to receive; she took but did not give, and no happiness, no content lived in her heart.

The other sister was far less beautiful, less brilliant; no one courted her; when her sister was in the room no one paid any attention to her. She did the small things left undone by the other; any tiny gift, any small kindness made her happy, and when there was something for her to do for others she did it quietly, unobtrusively, and that sister was the living picture of content. She envied her sister not at all, but there was a song on her lips and sunshine ever in her heart.

I do not preach a ruminating content, without ambition or hope of bettering our lot, but I do firmly believe that the man who is contented with what he has and makes the best of it is the happy man, be he stonebreaker, cook or king. If he does his best, loves his work, rejoicing over doing it well, however humble it may be, taking the right pride in it without envying his neighbour, that man finds his sleep sweet at night.

A False Happiness

But the one who imagines that every man's possessions are more enviable than his own, the man who will net share, will not give nor do a kind act to another, who runs after pleasure, who each day needs a fresh excitement so as to enjoy life, is not happy; he confuses pleasure with happiness, and there is a vast difference between the two.

Youth is, of course, the age of happiness; happiness bursts quite naturally from the heart of the young; but the law of Nature is that there should he at least two to feel that happiness completely, for happiness has to be shared.

Each age has its happiness if we will only recognize it and not strain after that particular happiness which wants us no more.



Queen as Fairy Godmother

The above exclusive picture shows Her Majesty with her daughter Princess Ileana and two little war orphans for whom she bought this charming home. In the foreground is seen a peasant woman engaged by the Queen to look after her protégés until they are seventeen years of age.



What Experience Teaches

We make our own happiness, that is the truth; it may be enhanced by, but it does not depend upon outward things.

I am no preacher, no moralizer, no, nor a great thinker. But I have lived and learnt, feared and hoped; I have had my fair share of grief and joy; but the older I grow the happier do I become, not because I have more happiness today than I had in my youth, but because I have learnt to grasp each particle of it, to make it mine without straining towards a special happiness I had imagined my due. I have also learnt the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive; I can no longer conceive a happiness for myself alone; I want to share.

Besides, I have become a builder, and a builder loves his building more than himself. He forgets himself in his work, which must outlast him; he builds for the love of his art, but with the constant thought of others, of those who will come after him, and he calls in others to share in his work and to rejoice over it with him; for it is the joy we share that is real joy.



The Queen of Roumania

In the Moorish Hall of Cotroceni Castle.



Work, Give, Share

Work, give, share; recognize the blessings you have and multiply them in your heart; do not strain after the impossible, but keep hope fresh in your soul, the hope that each day will be better than one just lived, which was already good because, like the Boy Scout, you tried to do at least one kind act in the twenty-four hours. Joy lies within your heart; does not depend upon what you are or have.