Sunday, October 30, 2011

In the Pursuit of Happiness

[This article was first published as In the Pursuit of Happiness on Technorati.]

After today, I've decided to give up on happy.

Apparently, if I give up on happy, I stand a better chance of obtaining happy. According to studies and experts, capturing happy stands about as much of a chance of one obtaining Nirvana. Unless of course, your idea of Nirvana is the band, not the bliss.

My sense of happy crumbled after reading this little piece by syndicated Boston Globe columnist Gareth Cook who writes how recent studies show that the more we try and obtain happiness the more disappointed we grow and the more elusive our little smiley kingdom becomes.

Cook writes: "…there is gathering evidence that happiness is not what it may appear. A string of new studies suggests that the modern chase after happiness–and even happiness itself–can hurt us…The more you value happiness, it turns out, the more unhappy you will become. The problem a team of psychologist reports, is that when you focus too much on happiness, you are disappointed when happy events–your birthday party, say–don't deliver a bigger boost."

I guess that makes us all a nation of Clark Griswolds forever setting standards that no one can match.

I don't really see how all this is new. Since the dawn of time, teachers hear students complain, "That's not fair." To which our mantra has always been, "Well, life isn't fair."

Over the years, I've changed that, though. Instead, I tell my students, "Life is not a Disney movie. Things don't always end happily ever after. Conflict can't always be resolved in a 60 minute time slot…blah blah blah…"

I get a lot of blank stares.

So now when my students grumble about this thing or that thing, well, now I can tell them that it's good to be negative.

Unless saying that makes it a positive, which then would be, well, bad.

You know, like a negative.


Angela Watson said...

This is a great post! I couldn't read the Boston Globe piece--subscribers only. :-(

To me, being happy is less about striving FOR happiness, and more about removing the attitudes and mindsets that contribute to UNhappiness. In other words, practicing letting go of expectations and being fully present in the current moment.

Laurie Collett said...

Happiness depends on pleasant or favorable external circumstances, which can change in an instant, making happiness elusive. But joy in the Lord depends on His strength and His grace, which are sufficient in any circumstance, allowing constant joy and the peace that passes all understanding.
Laurie Collett, Saved by Grace