Key Point: Are you happy yet? Are you as happy as you’re supposed to be? Frankly, I’m a little bewildered by everyone running around on what sometimes feels like a desperate, perhaps even narcissistic quest for happiness. It is a hot topic in the work place now too. Some days it feels like organizations have people frantically checking in with everyone to see if they’re happy or not? I wonder if hunting for happiness is like anxiously searching for the love of your life; the more you focus on it as an end result, the more elusive it is. My sense is that happiness is such a personal matter and it’s dependent on so many variables, that it may be a fool’s gold rush to chase it on a collective scale. As an example we do know, based on recent research, even age makes a difference.
The following is from Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences: “Two young psychologists have recently stepped onto the scene and started to explain how happiness varies over the lifetime. Amit Bhattacharjee of Dartmouth University and Cassie Mogilner of the University of Pennsylvania find that the young find happiness and self-definition through extraordinary experiences like meeting a celebrity. In contrast, older adults find happiness and self-definition through everyday experiences, like dinner with a best friend or wife.
The young crave the extraordinary. They long to bungee jump off a cliff, find a celebrity, and post a stylized Instagram photo that exaggerates the extraordinariness of the moment. Youth culture embraces the concept of YOLO — ‘You Only Live Once’ —, which is just a modern (and arguably more annoying) way to say ‘carpe diem,’ which is just a Latin way to say, ‘seize the day.’ YOLO is not something new; it’s just a rebranding of the youth mindset that’s always been around.
In contrast, older people tend to find happiness and define themselves in the ordinary experiences that comprise daily life. So, on vacation, parents often just want to spend time as a family. They want to have a nice family dinner and play card games.
What’s important about Bhattacharjee and Mogilner’s happiness hypothesis is that it is a psychological hypothesis rather than a cultural hypothesis.”
The above is just one example of psychological and physical conditions influencing personal happiness. I guess what bugs me a little is that some or much of this pursuit of happiness seems to be dependent on the behavior of others, or with situations that are often out of our control. The other aspect I find annoying is that a “bungee jump” or “meeting a celebrity” is somehow vital for happiness. It’s like gorging ourselves on every possible experience is a key measurement… “More… Newer… Better… Higher… Faster… Over… Under… MORE!!!!!” Aaaargh!
I feel like I do have a choice, unless I struggle with mental illness, to personally declare a happiness position. Am I happier some days or moments more than others? Of course. Are there days and moments where I’m unhappy? You bet. How could one be happy when a child is hurt or suffering as an example? Or when you’ve hurt another? Or when the gap between expectation and reality is giant? So what?
Character Moves: (For me… Perhaps not you)?
- I’m formally declaring to the world that I’m generally happy. Good! Now that’s done. No one or condition can change my mind. Yeah… I’m generally… More than 80 percent of the time… Happy! (And I do think having a positive outlook is vital).
- Now I can continue to concentrate on giving to others, creating value in my life, and living with a sense of purpose and meaning. This is a focus and result I can mostly control.
- I accept unhappiness, heartbreak, disappointment, loneliness and every other painful emotion as part of the delicious proof that I’m alive… Wahoo! I’m able to be and define happy because I can live with and appreciate unhappiness. (A warm summer breeze means more to me when I can recall freezing my ears at minus 30).
- The more I’m self-accountable, self-respecting, and self-abundant, the happier I seem to be without searching for it. Funny how that works… For me anyways.
Happy to be occasionally unhappy in The Triangle,
Published and Edited by Garrett Rubis