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The Lion Seeker
"Here is the South African novel I've been waiting for." - Lynn Freed
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Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Created: 08/24/14

Replies: 17

Posted Aug. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Both parents, Gitelle in her emphatic admonitions and Abel in his subtle snippets, advise their children. Abel counsels Rively when she questions him about life, love, and God: "When my fingers are talking for me in my work then my heart is quiet, and my head, and that's when I sometimes can hear Him whispering. It's written that it's this whisper of God that sustains the world...You only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart, that's all you need in this world" (26). Is finding happiness this simple? How many characters appear to discover this peace: Abel, Isaac, Gitelle, Hugo, Avrom, Rively, Yvonne, Oberholzer? How does Gitelle's recurring advice differ, especially for Isaac?


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

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It may be.

It is simplistic but, perhaps true. Abel showed this to be true for him. When Isaac was working on the cars, it was true for him. Avrom came to this truth in later life. I'm not sure Gitelle had a good heart after the horrible damage done to her and I don't think she was ever truly happy. Hugo might have been happy when he was winning at the 'ponies' but that was always short-lived. Rively was a combination of her mother and father. She was religious and, perhaps, satisfied - but not sure if she had a good (happy) heart. Oberholzer was too filled with hate to be happy. He reveled in his hate. Yvonne wanted to do the right thing, to have a good heart, but she often went about her quest is the absolutely wrong way. Her doing good seemed more out of guilt than any conviction of what is right.
Gitelle was always poking at Isaac to make money so he could provide for her and her family. His happiness did not seem to be a high priority.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I love this quote. The people that I know that are the happiest are people that love what they are doing and do it lovingly. So many people are miserable in their jobs. Besides Abel, I am not sure any of them find this peace. Isaac thinks he has found it when he's working on cars or when he finally buys his mom the house of her dreams but he is so easily distracted that its difficult to believe that he really has found peace. Unfortunately, the advice that Gitelle gives seems to be the more powerful influence


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I admire Abel because the advice he gives Isaac is that which helps his son the most insofar as Isaac
finding balance in his life


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I think that Abel's advice is very much true. Unfortunately in the world there are so many pressures to succeed and things we are led to believe are important for us to be successful that for most of the people in the world the pursuit of worldly goods that make us look successful becomes their driving force and they do what ever it takes for this rather than what it takes to be happy each day with what we are doing. I recently read something that Ben Franklin supposedly did that sort of applies. Before he went to bed every night he would ask himself "What good did I do today?" I think we might all be happier if we could answer that question well ourselves everyday.


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

No, having a good heart........" is not the key to happiness for us today and was not for the folks in this book. God, fate, karma, whatever one calls it, has so much to do with our happiness. Yes, having a good heart, and doing good for others because of it, is, IMO, important and doing what we love to do improves our chances of happiness, but we have no guarantees. Nor did Isaac, even though through all of his confusion and attempts at happiness, he kept reminding himself of the "mantra" if you will. Sometimes, it seemed, just saying and believing those words helped him through the tragedies of his life, so they are not be be completely discounted.


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beac

Join Date: 08/23/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Life is so complicated. If Isaac only wanted one thing: to work in the auto body shop, then finding happiness would have been simple for him. But rarely are we happy with just the one thing. He also wanted to make his mother happy, to feel more important and worthy, to capture the rich girl. Almost everyone's character runs deeper than being perfectly happy with one aspect of a job, relationship, or lifestyle. Happiness is multi-faceted.


Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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Dirtyolegardenhoe

Join Date: 11/03/13

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Yes, I believe that is true, however, I believe it is a building block to happiness. Gitelle instilled in her family the basic principles to leading a happy, productive life. She wanted a better life for her family and could recognize potential stumbling blocks. I loved her resolve and how she commanded respect even from behind a veil. She wanted her sons and her husband to be smart and respected, that was her idea of happiness.


"She is too fond of books, it has turned her brain." Louisa May Alcott
Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
irisf

Join Date: 01/16/12

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

This is so simplistic but true. I think of two quotations: "to thine own self be true" and "find something you love and then find a way to make money doing it." Abel was satisfied in his work as was Isaac when he was working on cars. It was blind ambition fueled by his desire to provide his mother with the house of her dreams in the suburbs that lead him on a course of shame.


Posted Sep. 06, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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catherinem

Join Date: 10/06/11

Posts: 23

RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

You only have to have a good heart . . . I wish it were true; however, don't believe it is. Bad things happen to good people all of the time. Joan of Arc comes to mind. So does Moll Flanders.


Posted Sep. 06, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

You're so right catherinem. But I like to think having a good heart conquers the evil more often than not.


Posted Sep. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
irisf

Join Date: 01/16/12

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

In response to catherinem, I have to say that every life is touched by unfortunate events and some people get more than their fair share. However happiness is derived from being at peace from within. An unhappy person can only be made happy temporarily by external things. Abel was happy because he was doing what he loved.


Posted Sep. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I do believe this is true. It may take a good while for it to come full circle, but I firmly believe that it does in the end.


Posted Sep. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I believe this is very true. Always find the good through the bad, otherwise the bad wins. No matter how minute, some wisp of good can always be found, you just have to look, sometime you need a keen eye.


Posted Sep. 08, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 27

RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Yes, though it's not simple and "happiness" is defined individually. I believe that"having a good heard and doing what you love with a good heart" will give you the inner strength to deal in good faith with life's complications. Ultimately I would define happiness as a comfortableness with myself; at the end of my life, or at any given time for that matter, am I content with how I treated others and dealt my challenges? Was I true to myself? Thoughtful, caring, giving to myself and others? I believe Joan of Arc would have died in peace.


Paula J
Posted Sep. 10, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

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RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

It depends on how you define happiness. In Issac's case enjoying his work with cars made him happy. To others, having power and money create happiness. Some are just satisfied with being in love and having a place to live. Spiritual happiness is being at peace with yourself. Joycew


Posted Sep. 23, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnp

Join Date: 07/02/12

Posts: 7

RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

I think Abel is having difficulty as his and maybe our own happiness changes. For instance happiness may be found at one stage in his life but making his mother happy May be a later stage. Seeking that elusive satisfaction that our life has a meaning. Is that what the author was making us think about?


johnp
Posted Oct. 05, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: Is finding happiness as simple as Abel's advice that "you only have to have a good heart and to do what you love to do with a good heart"

Finding happiness is not as simple as Abel suggests, and, in fact, Abel can hold to this view only because he spends most of the book in a cocoon oblivious to his wife's pain, his son's challenges and the existential threat to his people posed by the Nazis. Abel uses the self-fulfillment of his work and the security of his faith to insulate himself from the unpleasant realities around him, but ultimately Abel's contentment is
invaded by Gitelle's cancer and the broken relationship between Gitelle and Isaac.

While Abel's life unravels at the end of the book, the lives of Isaac and Avrom resolve. Their journeys were difficult, even heart wrenching, but at the end I believe that they came to terms with themselves and evolved into thoughtful, sensitive, balanced characters. On the other hand, Hugo and Magnus were flawed to the core and could never find peace.

One more thought. I would suggest that Abel's isolation of work and faith as the only essential ingredients of happiness is simplistic to the point of absurdity. But I also believe that one's work, which is so important to self-respect and fulfillment, is an essential component of happiness. Tragically, the work that is open to so many provides no opportunity for self-expression, creativity, mental stimulation. Abel was a craftsman who clearly derived satisfaction and contentment from his work. If Abel's life had been spent on an assembly line or flipping burgers (or the equivalent in 1930's South Africa) I suspect that Abel would not have defined happiness through his work.


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