Monday, February 11, 2008

How Happy Are You Now?

Lately I've been a grump.

I'm prone to bouts of unhappiness anyway but the weekend before last, I was simply mean. Details are not necessary here since rehashing it would only make me mad again (and a little ashamed). I've been trying to figure out why I've been unhappy. Life is nice: great husband and marriage, wonderful daughter and lovely family, decent job, decent money, terrific house, good health, all the yarn a knitter could ever want! So why the grumps?

This morning I spent some time reading a series of happiness articles on CNN and Oprah.com to try to figure it out. I took a quiz and scored myself - 27. This score is fairly high on the happiness scale actually, but also misleading. The questions in the quiz are very general. For example, if I had to live my life over again I would be OK to do it the same way except for one thing, and unfortunately that one thing is critical. I scored that question only a 5 out of 7.

The articles cite Dr. Robert Holden, an expert in the study of the pursuit of happiness. And he nailed my problem exactly - he calls it the "destination addiction" where you're contstantly looking for the next thing, the "more" that's going to make you happy once you obtain it. By doing so, you cannot be happy in the here and now, you are not satisfied with what you already have or have accomplished.

I've known this about myself for years except I've always labeled it as goal-setting. I can't be happy if I don't have something I'm working towards. I have really bought into the whole idea of happiness being in the journey, in the creative effort. So where and what has this gotten me? Far and a lot. I have achieved most everything that's important to me (see the list in the first paragraph). And now ironically, the question I'm asking myself is, "What's next?"

Well, I've got to figure out how to be content with all my life's riches. I have to look at my actual and metaphorical stash and say, "By golly I don't need to acquire any more, I already have enough wonderful stuff here to last me a very long time." I really have everything I need; now I should start creating beautiful things with it.

I agree with Dr. Holden in some ways. I agree that there can be such a concept as "destination addiction," but I actually believe that this addiction can be a good thing depending on your circumstances. It can get you out of a rut. It can motivate you to achieve your goals. It can help you realize your dream. But we also need to understand that at some point we don't have to keep reaching...we are there. And that life is good where we are and we need to keep it that way.

A little happiness here....

3 comments:

Tabitha said...

What you need my friend, is a Girls' Night Out BABY! ;o) hee hee

Lois said...

I equate destination happiness to my knitting. I always wonder why I can't be happy knitting what I'm working on rather than looking over at the new yarn/book, I just bought and dreaming about knitting the "new" thing. I'll have to look in that destination happiness thing. Could be SAD too - Spring is just around the corner

Lois

Randolph said...

How funny. Alan and I were JUST talking about this today...that our goals are outdated! He's now a PA and I'm published and we have our baby...what now? I think for us it feels less like unhappiness and more like just needing something to strive towards to feel productive. I'm going to take that quiz, though!
:)
Erika