I am basically a happy person. Someone recently asked me how that was so. After I pondered that question for a time, I came to the conclusion that being happy is a choice. Now, I am fully aware that I am also a fortunate person, and that alone can go a long way towards contributing to one’s happiness. But, in each situation, in each day, in each moment, we make choices. And I choose to be happy. The author Gretchen Rubin has a blog that I have followed for some time. That blog has morphed into a book The Happiness Project. It is a chatty read full of her discoveries while pursuing a path of happiness. In her research she found a great piece written in 1820 by the Englishman Sydney Smith. It was a letter he wrote to an unhappy friend in an attempt to cheer her up. I find his 19 suggestions very relevant even today. Use them as you like—perhaps they will make you smile. I particularly like #17.
“1. Live as well as you dare.
2. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees.
3. Amusing books.
4. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5. Be as busy as you can.
6. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18. Keep good blazing fires.
19. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.”
Chard and Ricotta Pie
1 large bunch of Swiss Chard ~ 1 tablespoon olive oil ~ 1 bunch of green onions, sliced ~ 1/2 teaspoon salt ~ 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper ~ 4 eggs ~ 15 oz. ricotta ~ 3/4 cup of milk ~ 1/2 cup grated parmesan ~ 2 tablespoons corn starch
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a pie pan. Separate stems and leaves of chard. Heat oil in large skillet and add stems and cook until tender. Add onions and salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add leaves and stir them in, moving them around and cooking until tender and wilted and moisture evaporates. Whisk together eggs, ricotta, milk, parmesan and cornstarch. Stir this into the chard mixture and transfer to the pie plate. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until set. This can be made with any green. Kale is also yummy. Enjoy!