So I was at happy hour the other day (it’s a corporate thing, okay?) when I started talking about a book that I am reading (I was very thankful at this moment that I have been reading books). Stumbling on Happiness is about happiness, its existence, and the sciences (neurology, psychology etc.) behind it.

My coworker brought up an anecdote she had recently heard- a study that followed two people, a man who just became paralyzed and another who had just won the lottery. After a year, both exhibited/claimed an equal level of happiness with their lives. Although I see this as being an extreme case, I am inclined to believe that after a given amount of time, happiness levels neutralize.

I was probably the happiest right after I graduated. Everything was turning up “Kate” and I was so excited to begin the promising life ahead of me. I still feel that way, nothing has changed for the worse and in the grand scheme, I would consider myself in a better position today that I was back then. However, I feel like my happiness has kind of leveled out and I am no longer waking up every day full of excitement for the world that lies ahead.

Relationships are another example- my relationship with Joe is amazing. I get what I need from it, we have tons of fun together and we rarely fight (and if we do, we talk through it in a healthy way, which is crazy in its own). However, it was more exciting when it was new- I felt like it gave me a visible happiness that anyone could see. I wouldn’t say that this has worn off, but the constant smile that was on my face has turned into just an everyday-expression.

So, what I’m getting at, is whether happiness is a truly attainable goal. Most people wish others happiness in life, but isn’t happiness momentary? If after a year, I would feel about just as happy if I were making millions or just reading a few awesome books… what’s the point? I feel like I’ve been nurtured to believe that success somehow leads to happiness, but if happiness comes with anything, wouldn’t I be just as fine twiddling my thumbs?

No… probably not, and maybe this is the inherent complication of happiness.


One thought on “Happiness?

  1. I think it’s also partly in how you define happiness. If happiness is having everything you could possibly want in life and having achieved all of your goals – I hope that I never attain that, because then my life would feel directionless. I think it’s important to have goals to strive for, but also to learn to be happy in the everyday things, and defining overall life satisfaction on taking pleasure in your relationships and the little things you enjoy.
    When I took Psychology of Happiness while I was in Copenhagen, we talked a lot about expectations, and shooting, for example for a level 8 of happiness or success instead of a 10, and being very content in the simple things in your life – your relationships, and taking time to really cultivate those. One interview with Danes that we watched basically said that our way of striving for the American Dream ultimately leads to dissapointment (depressing, I know), but so maybe there’s something to it. Here’s the video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4181996n
    I think there’s also a difference between happiness as an emotion and happiness as a general state (what I think more of as contentment). The moments of joy and ecstasy and the really exciting times vs. being content in how you live your everyday life overall.
    Talking about this over the phone is probably easier, but I felt like I wanted to respond to this, too.

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