I didn't think there were any epiphanies in the documentary Happy, an exploration of the recent science of what makes people feel fulfilled and content, yet I find myself harkening back to it two months after watching it on Netflix. Bits and pieces of its core message have already filtered into pop culture: that money and possessions don't actually make people happier in the long term (above the poverty level at least); enduring happiness is achieved through a sense of self-actualization, connection with a community, and the feeling you make a difference in the world.
What Happy did very well was give me a straightforward vocabulary to think about my own well-being. Often we think about our lives as a series of decisions between two courses of action. But many of our decisions are not between disparate actions, but between how we understand what we do. I write fiction because I love it, because a well-told tale has made all the difference in the world at times in my life. Do I write for external plaudits, or do I write because it allows me to learn and grow in ways that are meaningful to me? That choice determines who is in charge of my happiness: a publisher, or myself.