“As Many Holds Upon Happiness as Possible”:
Increasing Your Daily Joy with Jane Austen
Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator
In January of this year (2022), our region created and hosted an “Eat. Read. Love.” scavenger hunt on Zoom as part of our celebration of Jane Austen’s December birthday. We had people attend from all over the country and a few other countries. The three categories were food and drink in the novels; books related to Jane Austen, examples of the novels, and reading mentioned in the novels; and items displaying our love for Jane Austen, the Regency era, and the video/film adaptations. I was struck by how much joy attendees had in sharing their Jane Austen-related items with others and the variety of ways we proclaim our love of Jane Austen.
I will discuss how to be a bit more intentional and mindful throughout our day in using our Jane Austen love to increase joy. Some of these suggestions might be things that you already do, and my hope is that doing them more intentionally will help you feel more joyful.
Take a breath and smile when you see anything related to Jane Austen. Most of us have Jane Austen mugs, or pictures, or figures. When you use or see something that is Jane Austen-related, take a breath in, smile, and think about a specific scene or quotation that makes you feel good. For example, I have three bone china mugs that I use with my morning tea with botanical pictures of apples, peaches, and cherries. Apples remind me of Mr. Knightley and Donwell Abbey (big smile), peaches remind me of Mr. Darcy and Pemberly (when Lizzy and Mrs. Gardiner visit with Georgiana), and cherries are mentioned by Mrs. Elton during the strawberry picking monologue in Emma (I always smile because of the genius of how Austen portrays Mrs. Elton’s speech). Using bone china also connects me to Jane Austen’s time (although it is not Wedgwood or Staffordshire). Have Jane Austen items in places where you can see them throughout your day to frequently have that pause and smile.
Connect Jane Austen to something else you love. I work as a psychologist at a university counseling center. We are privileged to work with students from all cultural backgrounds and all gender identity and sexual orientations. I have a large “More Pride, Less Prejudice” graphic in my office (see below) that was designed by Georgie Castilla of Duniath Comics https://www.duniathcomics.com/. I also ordered some of Georgie’s P&P stickers and brought them into work to share with my co-workers and the graduate student trainees. Thirty stickers were gone in no time and even the “big boss” wanted one. It is so neat to see the stickers around the center, and I feel happy to have spread some Jane Austen and Pride joy!
Do some GIF therapy. My favorite GIF is the “Knightly Approves” GIF. I laugh every time I see it and it has become a running joke with a small group of other Mr. Knightley fans on our region’s Facebook page. Our region officers also love a good Clueless GIF (“As if!”). When I see a GIF, I have associations to the work it is from, which brings more happiness. Take some time each day for a little GIF therapy. [Also, my computer friends want me to note that it is pronounced “jif”, like the peanut butter, according to the late Steve Wilhite, the GIF creator.] Another alternative is to find video clips of the TV show/movie adaptations you like on a video platform when you don’t have time to watch a whole movie or TV episode. Knightley Approves: https://tenor.com/UyTp.gif and Cher, “As If”: https://tenor.com/xUTi.gif.
Wear your Jane Austen colors. We can’t always wear our Jane Austen t-shirts or Regency togs, to work for example (darn professional standards!). We can pick colors to wear that we associate with specific characters or film adaptations. I have several Cher-yellow (Clueless) items that make me extra happy when I wear them. See if you can make Jane Austen associations to the colors of clothes you own—Captain Wentworth navy blue, Lizzy (2005) loden green, Emma (2009) pink, Catherine or Fanny white (preferably in muslin with glossy spots), Elinor (2008) muted lavender, Marianne (1995) ice blue, Darcy black, etc. I also have a pashmina scarf that I bought at an AGM that I have taken to wearing in the winter instead of packing it away in the cedar chest. I call it my “Pride and Prejudice Peacock Edition” shawl and very much feel like a Regency woman when I wear it.
If it fits with your space and your budget, get the DELUXE edition! I have several versions of most of the novels and enjoy reading the notes in annotated editions. I bought Bharat Tandon’s edited Emma: An Annotated Edition (2012, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) a couple of years ago and recently bought the Robert Morrison’s edited Persuasion: An Annotated Edition (2011, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) and the Patricia Meyer Spacks’s edited Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition (2010, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press). They are each such beautiful editions with excellent annotations and pictures. It is a pleasure to hold them and feel their heft. I plan to get the Belknap editions of Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey soon.
I hope that these suggestions seem doable. The main point about each is being intentional as you interact with objects you already have in order to take a minute to let the positive emotions associated with Jane Austen create joy in your day. Leave a comment if you have another way you bring Jane Austen joy into your day.