Joy Luck Club and Happiness

“It’s not that we had no heart or eyes for pain. We were all afraid. We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost… What was worse, we asked among ourselves, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces? Or to choose our own happiness? So we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. Each week we could forget past wrongs done to us. We weren’t allowed to think a bad thought. We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week, we could hope to be lucky.” – Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club


After wrapping up the first section of Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, I immediately fell in love with the idea of starting my own Joy Luck Club among friends at school. In the book, the Joy Luck Club consists of four women who meet weekly to enjoy food and games of mah jong, and to temporarily escape the day-to-day hardships they have to face.

Okay, so I have no interest in playing mah jong, and the war going on around the characters isn’t quite the same as the school/relationship troubles my friends and I find ourselves in, but isn’t that awesome — the concept of pushing those problems aside for a day every week and just relaxing with the people we care about? Sometimes it can feel like we have so much going on at once that we forget to breathe; instead, we either spin our wheels or we wallow in misery, wondering how we can possibly study for those tests, prepare for that fundraiser, log all our hours at work and practice that important speech, especially after our awful breakup with What’s His Face has started to hit us.

Of course, we have our friends to lean on, but who is going to want to hang out with us if we’re constantly complaining about something? We trust our close friends with almost anything, so when they ask us how we’re doing, we tend to be candid. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when all we ever do is comfort each other about the things we’re struggling with, we miss out on the good times we could be having with them.

I’m not saying you should keep everything bottled up, but maybe we could all learn something from the ladies of the Joy Luck Club. Take some time with your friends to celebrate the exciting things in your lives, and choose your own happiness. A little of this, and a lot of the problems you are faced with won’t seem so bad. 🙂

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