We’ve been talking about happiness…

Carol and I have been talking about happiness, and have decided that human beings are not supposed to be happy all the time, and that it makes life easier if one can accept that.

11 thoughts on “We’ve been talking about happiness…”

  1. Joy-Mari — Good question. We’ve been a couple for 20+ years, and most of the time I have no idea how we reach the conclusions we do. But our conclusion was completely unscientific, non-systematic, and not entirely logical. It just felt right. And it is a useful explanation for why we aren’t happy more than half the time, although we lead pretty comfortable lives, and actually do some good in the world.

    P.S. I like your blog!

  2. Gee whiz. That’s depressing. I was happy before I read your blog.

    And it makes no sense, really. You’re not happy more than half the time therefore you’re not *supposed* to be happy more than half the time? Um, Dan? Isn’t that kind of circular logic?

    Maybe you’re not happy more than half the time because you’re just not happy more than half the time. Some of us are happy a lot more than half the time we spend on earth. Probably because we live in the Midwest. Where things are lovely. And there are ponies. Lots and lots of ponies.

  3. Like most stories, it was a little more complex than that.
    I suggest happiness is relative. To many things.
    I’m not even sure “happiness” means the same thing to all people at all times and even to the same person at different times. Is happiness a catch-all term for contentment? Or does it imply high-spirited contentment or rapturous serotonin-soaked joy? Does it mean one feels content with all aspects of life?
    I suspect many people stress out thinking they fail if they don’t attain that—weren’t we talking about how total self-actualization became a value of the 1980s (the “Me Decade”), Dan? Now, we have a notion we must have work, relationships, and daily life that fulfill us on all levels.
    Someone said, “To be American is to think a party is going on somewhere and you’re not invited.”
    Witness the Europeans, who do not expect happy endings in films and seem to accept angst and misfortune as expected elements of living.
    A writer once suggested that feeling content more than 50% of the time must be the equivalent of happiness, so he went on the record as being happy. Aiming low certainly takes some pressure off the happiness benchmark.
    (That said, I did find the book The Happiness Project worthwhile. Ultimately it was about feeling content.)

  4. oh, you two crazy kids….let’s get the bowl of popcorn, jug of wine, and some Motown on the hifi and live it up like it’s club 385 (happiness nostalgia deconstruction NOT requested!)

  5. American (U.S.) culture is hobbled by our beliefs in extreme happiness, rising up to us from the tenets of capitalism. Feeling a bit down? Buy a 3D television with BlueRay player and sign up for NetFlix. Enjoy the overrich, fat-salt-sugar soaked food available in easy to manage boxes and containers. Just slap it in the microwave! Or hit a drive through to achieve instant over-caloried satisfaction. Don’t feel like cooking a “fabulous” meal? Go to a sit-down restaurant and get a fancier version of the same, overloaded with so much grease and gravy that you can barely see the basic food underneath it.

    We buy. We eat. We thrive on excitement. This is the level of happiness we expect, but the only problem is that it’s based on adrenaline overproduction, and activities and food which overtstimulate and overwhelm our health systems.

    We don’t get enough sleep. We don’t get enough quiet time to do something as cliche as watching the grass grow.

    And we’re not happy, not at the percentages we expect. Because after all, “we live in the greatest country on Earth.”

    I’m tired of looking at percentages. I’m tired of focusing on how much of the time I am happy, truly happy. I’m learning to embrace melancholia. It’s part of life. And sometimes, when I fully embrace the weepy feelings as a necessary ingredient of my daily life, I sense a contentment wash over me because I realize that I’m alive. And this is what living entails.

  6. JMB @ 8 — You write: “I’m learning to embrace melancholia.”

    Me too.

    And for the past two years I’ve been singing with some people who sing about death a lot. Singing about death is actually very comforting; sort of puts everything in perspective.

  7. So my very random googlings led me — yet again — to your blog. I was searching for Unitarian responses to Osama’s death.

    Thank you for your very honest answer and thank you for the compliment!

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