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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

THE HAPPY THING

I am in a foul mood for no particular reason. It crept up on me yesterday afternoon. Suddenly everything seemed a little duller.

It truly stumps me how poor peasants in India can honestly report to be happy when I have so much going for me and yet feel downright rotten without reason. So is happiness a question of lowering expectations or intellect or ignoring bothersome trivialities or WHAT? Is it just a case of believing that there’s a caring, nurturing God out there who’ll reward this suffering with a ticket to heaven?

If you were to ask me, “What would make you happy?” I’d probably come up with a whole list of requests. But even if we were to cross out the whole darned check list and put tax evaders behind bars, change the economy, stop global warming, bring world peace and even personally make me a zillionaire, would I really be happy? Probably not!

Reminds me of this question - If today someone were to find out that they would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of their life while somewhere else another person had just hit jackpot in a lottery win, which of the two do you think would be happiest a year from now? The initial urge is to back the just-made zillionaire, but then you think – “Nah, too easy!”

There was even research conducted on this back in 1978. Two groups - accident victims and Illinois state lottery winners - were asked about their lives and were monitored for a year. It was found that after an initial surge of despair or joy, depending on the circumstances, just a year after the life-changing event they underwent, both groups had returned to the same level of happiness or misery they had sustained earlier as though nothing extraordinary had ever happened.

So what is this happiness thing, and how do we get some? Is it that easy to just wake up and say, "How glorious it is to be alive"? Do some people, like myself, prefer to wallow in misery and have pity parties for themselves rather than rant about the miracle that undoubtedly life is?

Or perhaps sometimes we just need to be miserable. After all, if every day was sunny, imagine how tragic it would be for our crops.

6 comments:

Sharon said...

Great questions. I have no answers. Maybe it's just brain chemistry.

Robin said...

I feel your pain. On the one hand, I really admire the "perky" people. You know they types. The people that just seem to have the sunny disposition. And I wonder, "Where does that come from?" And there are days that I wish that I had that. And then other days I find it really annoying. I think I would annoy myself with 24-7 perk. But, on the days when I feel really blue, probably like you're feeling today, I wish I had just a little of that perk... just enough to jumpstart me a bit. I couldn't take full dose, mind you, but a tad. I usually go one way or the other. I will watch my favorite romantic comedies or just comedies (as in movies on the DVD players) to try and perk me up or I will give in to it and really sink. Which means listening to the saddest, most depressing music about love gone wrong or movies of same. Read books that I know will make me cry. Just revel in the sad and depressing. Or you could watch action movies where things blow up. That's fun, too.

I did comment on your comment, btw, about the quote...

The Novelist said...

I had a Grandpa who was always happy. When asked how he was he would always respond "I am having my best day so far!" He was that way until just before he died. A few days before he passed he responded differently for the first time ever, he said "I guess I am finally having a bad day." It broke my heart, but I was glad he was honest. I don't think he always felt as happy as he claimed to be, I think he was working on "faking it till you make it." I heard somewhere that if you smile when you are upset or angry about something and you keep holding the smile it will become real after a while and your body will relax.

Something to think about I guess.

Purple Cow said...

Sharon - brain chemistry would also explain the joyous rush we feel during the falling in love stage, maybe diet and exercise have something to do with it.

Robin - maybe we're just overgrown emos...I've done that with the films...Woody allen's "Take the Money and Run" cracks me up every time.

Novelist - your grandpa story reminds me of the room with the mirrors. do you know the story? Happy puppy dog walks in the mirrored room and sees his reflection...feels a hundred times happier and leaves elated. Grumpy dog goes in, sees hundreds of reflections of his grumpy face and leaves feeling even worse...

The Novelist said...

I hadn't ever heard the puppy story, but it makes sense. You will get out of your surroundings what you bring to them.

basefare said...

The clouds will pass and the sun will come out and things will get better. Even so...

Isn't it fun to know wherever you are you can have your say and people around the world can read it and you have left your mark, your footprint, as it were, showing your existence. Wish you luck, the good kind.