Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion

Floating like a little boat upon the sea…

It’s a great day. You’re smiling. You’re happy. Then something happens. It might be as innocent as teasing. It might be something you overhear that you weren’t meant to hear. It might be something like a flat tire. But it hits you wrong and there goes your mood, and quite possibly your whole day.

How does it happen? Why can one little thing make everything change? Boy, if I had the answer to this I might be rich!

According to Steve Schwartz, in The Science Behind “Having a Bad Day” (and How to Solve it), there is no such thing as a bad day. He says a bad day only exists in our interpretation of reality, therefore becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. He suggests reflection on the negative feeling you are having and asking yourself what caused it. Then he’d like you to label it in three words. No more. After that you’re not supposed to think about that feeling or event(s) anymore. It’s time to move on and only refer back to the label if necessary. Very interesting idea.
So if something happens or I perceive something happens, and now my day is heading south I’m supposed to describe the reason in three words? First I have to try to identify the feeling; anger, hostility, frustration, etc. How about frustrating rude bitch? Or undeserving stupid coworker? Maybe irritation at assholes? Or incensed by ignorance? Then there’s always, as the website says, plain old FML! Actually, it was kind of fun when I was trying to think of examples. So I can see how this might make you feel better. The not thinking about it anymore part? That could be a problem.

There has been a lot of research done on happiness. Some studies say that happiness is genetic. As much as 50% or your happiness level can depend on genetics. Supposedly each of us is born with a pre-disposition to happiness. It’s determined by characteristics inherited from our parents, especially temperamental and affective traits. Life circumstances also play a part. Things like personal experiences, career, health, income, age, gender and even marital status are said to be 10% of our happiness level. The last 40% of our happiness level comes from intentional activities or things we choose to do.
We can’t change our genetics and often life circumstances are beyond our control. But we can change our intentional activities. We are influenced by a lot of things but ultimately we can control what we do.

Gretchen Rubin wrote a book called The Happiness Project. She said she was basically happy but let little things start taking control. She would feel dejected after a minor professional setback, she drifted out of touch with friends and lost her temper easily. She suffered bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listlessness and guilt. One day she had a realization: she felt she was in danger of wasting her life. The years were slipping by. She asked herself just what she wanted from life. Then she answered: “I want to be happy.” She began, what she dubbed, The Happiness Project. She decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier.

She designed a calendar of sorts, to record her resolutions and evaluated daily, good or bad, for each resolution. She focused on a different subject each month. Happy people are more humane, more productive, more helpful, and more likable. Research shows happy people are even healthier than unhappy people. They make better friends, colleagues and citizens. She wanted to be one of those people. She knew she was more patient, more forgiving, more energetic, more lighthearted and more generous when she was happy. And she realized that working on her own happiness wouldn’t just make her happier, but also the people around her. Her project was successful. Enough to write a book about anyway. She encourages others to start their own happiness projects. It might be worth looking into.

Even our states are ranked as to how ‘happy’ they are. Texas is ranked 21st of the happiest states to live in. I guess that’s kind of in the middle. Does that mean that people are medium happy in Texas?

I ran across 5 Reliable Findings from Happiness Research. I found the information interesting. What do you think?

1. You control about half your happiness level

I think that’s mostly true. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And if you don’t feel like you are worth something, chances are you aren’t happy. And the genetic part mentioned above makes sense to me. That part you can’t control.

2. Money doesn’t buy happiness
I don’t know about that. I guess I agree that it isn’t the be all, end all, but I think it could contribute to happiness. Especially if you don’t have any!

3. Lottery winnings create only temporary, short-term happiness

If you spend all the money it’s temporary, short-term happiness. But if you can plan and make it last surely it could contribute to happiness. And if you can keep all the deadbeats and relatives begging for handouts away, it might even keep you happier.

4. Relationships are a key factor in long-term happiness

There is probably some truth to this. After all, if you have to spend time with people you dislike, all the time, chances are you aren’t happy about it.

5. Focus on experiences, not stuff

I can see both sides of this. There are memories that make me smile. But sometimes stuff can make me happy too. I guess though, the memories will always be there. At least until I’m old and forget everything! And the stuff, even though it made me happy, wore out, got lost or broken or isn’t important anymore. So experience is long-term and stuff is probably short term.

All in all I think happy is a relative term. Being happy, or happiness, is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Contentment and intense joy vary from person to person. What brings me contentment, yarn for instance, might not bring someone else contentment. I don’t think happiness can be generalized because it can’t really be defined. But as they say, you can get glad in the same pants you got mad in. In other words, happiness runs in a circular motion…

It occurred to me that if someone happened to read a post they might not know what knitayear is. So I’m updating! What is knitayear? The recipe is basic; cast on some stitches, knit at least two rows every day using a color that fits your mood or feelings that day. If you want, you can journal or blog, like I’m doing on this blog, as a kind of documentation of your feelings, ultimately creating a personal record of the year. I started in April and have decided to divide mine into seasons. I finished spring, April, May and June. I’m in summer now. It’s been fun and interesting too. I have no idea what it will be in the end or what I’ll do with it. But I’m keeping on keeping on! Day 130 is August 8. It’s such a hot summer. But the rain we had at the beginning of the season should have been the clue. It’s a comfortable day, though, relaxing and just hanging out. Boys are here or on the way and it’s nice to have them around. I picked a light blue with dark blue spots. It had a ‘comfortable’ feel to it when I was looking. Day 131, August 9, I took off to spend some time with the boys. I’m just so tired though. I don’t have energy for anything. Just weary. I chose a variegated yarn with gold, purple, pink, green and blue. Sounds ugly but it reminded me of a sunset out here, right before it’s dark. It’s the time of evening when things are winding down. And I’ve felt like that all day. Just dragging. Day 132 is another day off. It would have been okay but someone said something and just messed up the day. Oh well. I couldn’t shake it and was pretty much depressed all day long. I chose a gray wool, actually part of a variegated yarn, SWS I think. It was perfect. Day 133 is August 11. Just another day. Not happy, not sad. Back at work and trying to catch up. I sat through the world’s longest TETN, which is a meeting on TV. Kind of disenchanted with the whole day. I chose a pale green fake mohair. It’s really old yarn. Seemed kind of blah, like my day. Day 134 is August 12 and I have to go to Austin. I don’t mind but it’s a short and fast trip. Kind of a pain. And I’m apprehensive for some reason. Just nervous. I chose a pastel ribbon mix yarn. It’s different colors and different yarns, kind of busy or nervous yarn. Day 135 is Friday the 13th. I hate to fly on Friday the 13th but I usually end up doing so. Kind of superstitious I guess. Anyway, it took forever but I got home fine. I was relieved to get home and just relieved in general. Sometimes after trips like these I’m not. But this was all okay and I even learned some things. I chose turquoise colored worsted. It’s actually part of a variegated as well. It’s a nice color. Day 136 is Saturday. Ty went to the airport and flew back to Colorado then Utah. Sad to see him go but know he’s grown now and that’s what they do. It was a calm day though. Bryce got back in from Houston. We ate coming in from Odessa so no supper. I was just in kind of a mellow mood. I picked some orange/turquoise/yellow wool. It’s mellow colors to me and reminds me of the southwest colors. I noticed there were good days and there were bad days and it all goes around, happy, sad, happy. That’s a good thing.

Happiness runs in a circular motion
Floating like a little boat upon the sea.
Everyone is a part of everything everywhere.
You can be a part if you let yourself be.


  1. Excellent post! I think having an attitude of gratitude goes along way in finding happiness.

  2. Thank you Jen! I'm glad you stopped by.