La felicità

I don’t know if it happens to you, but to me, everything sounds better in Italian. I only have to read or hear “felicità” and I immediately feel good. It takes me back to summers with my family, visiting, for example, Cinqueterre, those marvellous villages on the Mediterranean coast, with twisting roads, but which awaken all the senses because they are so beautiful. Or, I see myself enjoying ice cream in the streets of Venice among tourists from all over the world, or walking through the streets of Rome guided by the smell of pizza baking in an oven.
Happiness, on many occasions, is associated with immediacy, with the pleasure of the senses, with the fulfillment of our desires, when in reality, it is something much deeper that has more to do with the state of our soul or the health of our conscience. Happiness is being at peace. And what gives us peace and calm on a daily basis? What could we say, inwardly and on a deeper level, helps us to be happy on a daily basis?
What a question. It has certainly given rise to many volumes of philosophical debate. But if we resort to common sense, that which guides us without opening encyclopaedias from the bookshelves, what would we say makes us happy?
It is clear that this is a blog with a certain personal component, and the reader may not agree with the writer, but without wanting to convince you of anything, I am happy about somethings that may seem very simple, but that, at the same time, we must realise that it exists: the beauty of the little things that surround me.
For example: A sunrise. A blue sky. The smell of damp after a storm. A few sprigs of eucalyptus at the entrance of the house. A hot cup of tea before starting work. A tidy cupboard. A sandwich in good company. A what’s app with a “hello” from my husband at any time of the day. A snack with friends we haven’t seen for a long time. A meal with friends we see every day. Seeing a grandfather holding hands with his grandson in the street. Ironing. Reading a book in the sun. Even hanging a painting.
Little or none of what I have listed has a financial cost. But it all gives me peace. Valuing the nature that surrounds us and observing its beauty helps us realise how fortunate we are to live on a planet of astonishing grandeur. Parenthesis: I don’t know where you read me from but this weekend I visited a beautiful village 39 km from the city where I live and I had never been there before. I’m sure you too have many places to discover in your immediate surroundings that can bring “La felicità.”
Maybe you were surprised by the tidy wardrobe or the ironing. It gives me a lot of peace to open the wardrobe and see the order. I even find that aesthetically beautiful. And it shows attention to detail, and care, to look after things and keep them well and, above all, to find them both in their place and well ironed the day you look for them.
In short, all this and much more, in the context of the launch of HRF’s most recent book Happiness and Domestic Life, will be discussed in the land of “La felicità“, in Rome on Thursday 1 December at the Roma Tre University. Led by professor and philosopher Maria Teresa Russo, we will have a round table discussion in Italian on Felicità. We will be joined by Antonio Petagine, Università Roma Tre, Vinicio Busacchi, Università di Cagliari and Nicola Di Stefano, CNR Roma and moderated by Professor Cecilia Costa, Roma Tre Department of Training Science.
Please get in touch with me for more details  – we look forward to seeing you!

Happiness and Domestic Life

I hope you have been able to rest and are eagerly and enthusiastically getting back to the routine in your homes. As we have already announced, our latest book ‘Happiness and Domestic Life’ was released at the end of August.

Before I tell you what it is about, allow me on behalf of HRF to thank STI for supporting us in getting this work off the ground, Routledge for their confidence once again, this is our third book with them, and all the academics who have contributed, editors and authors who will be appearing throughout the text.

As editor María Teresa Russo explains in her introduction, this book aims to provide a mainly conceptual framework for the relationship between the quality of domestic life and the home environment (family relationships, technical tools, housing style, household chores) and individual and social happiness, especially in the context of current changes.

Two important factors determining the issue of happiness and well-being have themselves been affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic: the relationship between an individual’s quality of life and engagement with his or her community, and the role of new technologies in everyday life.

The authors highlight, from different perspectives, that happiness has a clear relational character and it is essential for its promotion that it is the central pillar of the family environment. Three dimensions of psychosocial well-being in the home are analysed: the personal, which consists of a sense of stability, intimacy and sharing; the social, which considers the domestic environment as a place for civic education; and, in times of pandemic, the place of professional and physical activity, which consists of spaces, services and architectural styles.

The themes addressed by experts from different countries and disciplines (sociology, architecture, philosophy, education, economics, ethics) fall into four thematic axes. The first focuses on happiness between the private and public spheres from a philosophical and psychological point of view. The authors of this section (Nogal; Chirinos; Gawkowska) propose a model in which home and care, notions that have vulnerability and human relationality as a common thread, are valued as two indispensable elements for individual and social well-being.

The second section analyses the role of digital media and domestication in fostering domestic well-being from a sociological point of view (Bakardjieva; Wessels; Malagrinò). The analysis focuses on the changes in activities, relationships and roles in the home when digital media become deeply and intimately embedded in the spaces and rhythms of the home.

The third examines the home as a place of work, care and creativity, from an educational and anthropological point of view, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (Díaz, Martín-Sierra and Herrero; Farrell; De Nardo; Grau-Grau, Selvam and Cavallotti). The three traditional approaches to happiness (momentary happiness, subjective well-being and eudemonic well-being) are analysed in relation to the paid work activity that the COVID pandemic transferred to the home, and the more intense family life during the period of confinement.

Finally, the fourth section highlights factors that contribute to supporting happy and functional homes, from the architectural and sociological perspectives of architecture and sociology (Davies; Thunder and Serrano-Núñez; Al-Thahab). These include the physical layout and design of houses, the contrast between tradition and innovation, and social relations in the neighbourhood as a means of bringing families into the life of the wider society.

These issues lend themselves to further fruitful empirical research: we hope that this book will provide a valuable conceptual basis for development in different directions.

This book is both an important milestone in the study and policy of the home’s vital contribution to wellbeing, and a key read for anyone concerned with the true value of home.