Friday, November 02, 2007

Why are we happy? Why aren’t we happy?

I stumbled upon an excellent video and website today. Check out I encourage you all to watch it. It’s a bit long, but it’s VERY interesting. You may have to watch it a few times. ( I did).

Happiness Video- Dan Gilbert

I think this is yet another lesson in synchronicity for me. Last week, I was feeling SO happy. I mean, I found myself BEAMING while washing dishes. A month ago I threw a hissy fit because we don’t have a freaking dishwasher here. What gives?

I was enjoying this change of pace, but, being analytical Sue, I kept trying to figure out WHY I was so happy. I think, deep down, I am beginning to realize that happiness is not conditional, it’s not EXTERNAL. It comes from within. I am also learning to accept the things I cannot change (ok yeah.. it is part of the Serenity Prayer). The lecturer in this video (Dan Gilbert - a Harvard psychologist) talks about this.

I think I have learned a lot about surrender, acceptance, and being grateful. Sujoy helps me in this regard. “Look around you – READ THE NEWS!” he says. I skim it, because it makes me sad. Anyway, I do pray for peace and an end to all suffering. I know what it’s like to suffer, but what I have experienced is infinitesimal compared to oh, those in Darfur, Burma or Iraq, for instance.

Anyway, the WEIRD thing was…as I started questioning my happiness…it started to slip away. After watching this video though, I understand that I was definitely on the right track.

Happiness is a state of mind that we can all synthesize. Cool!

Most of you know this quote – which someone on used in a comment on the video (no it wasn’t an original Sheryl Crowe lyric!):

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

What do YOU think is the secret to happiness?


Anne-Marie said...

I think the secret to happiness is to enjoy what you have instead of bitching constantly about what's missing. It's seizing the day and making you sure you take the time to enjoy some part of it on a daily basis. And finally, it's staying away from negative people who will suck the good energy right out of you.

Anne-Marie said...

P.S. Can you get a cat or foster one while you're away from your little kitty?

lryicsgrl said...

On the subject of is subjective. I just heard about situational depression, so I decided, just now, that happiness is probably situational, too.

If my children are happy, then I am happy.
I don't know if I have such a thing as "personal happiness" since I became a mother. I hope that doesn't sound sad. I couldn't be any other way.


Anonymous said...

First of all, I have to say I love the TED organization. If I had enough money, I would go to their convention each year. They do so much good for humanity. With that said...It is my opinion that happiness is a misunderstood word. Happy is an emotion, like all the other emotions we experience, such as anger, sadness, joy, etc. Anyway, I believe we achieve the most happiness possible in our lives when we live by our conscious and most importantly when we follow our passion. If we follow our passions, lives path will lead us to what makes us most content! Contentment, in my opinion is the goal; the rest will follow.


EBEZP said...

Live for the day, good communication and a collection of people you can call on if it all goes wrong!!

grace said...

Is it true happiness or just moments of happiness? It's a hard one to look around you and be blessed at what you have, when you see everything that goes on in the world. I don't know the secret, I think we should enjoy each day, and look at what brings us joy. And go from there.

Suesjoy said...

Thank you all. Good advice from each of you!

I need to watch the video again, I think.
I am really down...not sure why!
I swear I am manic.

I wish I could make happiness last.
I won't stop trying...sorry for whining.

Love to all.

Lucy said...

Hi Sue... sorry I usually don't get around to your blog. I will try to, more often. :-)

Very interesting topic, and one that I struggle with, almost daily.

Happiness is elusive, true.

I find it hardest to be happy when I'm at home (oddly enough!) because I'm not happy with (or in) my home most of the time. I'm happiest when I'm out riding around in my car or when I'm online. There are also moments where I'm struck by blissful feelings, such as glancing at a beautiful corn row or wheat field while out riding. Just ordinary stuff I took for granted in my younger years. Just simple beauty. The way the sun strikes the fields, or the mist hanging low, or the frost making everything sparkly. I'm very, very susceptible to mood changes though, which is part of my biggest struggle. The tiniest little annoyance can throw me off kilter. The tiniest bum look from someone can get me depressed, etc.

But then small things also make me happy easily. So I guess I'm just too sensitive, maybe?

I'll be back! Thanks for visiting my blog too, Sue. xo

Lucy said...

Hi Sue (OK I'm back). I'm listening to the link now. Interesting. It's like inside our brain "resides an experience suit".

About your comment that you're feeling down right now and you're not sure why. I can TOTALLY relate to that. Happens to me all the time. Usually it's some tiny thing. Something that's disappointed me, or something that rubs me slightly the wrong way. Or just having a mess around me (like in my house). Those things can suddenly bring me down. Or time passing too quickly. Jealousy, envy (I'm too susceptible to these emotions). Anxiety. I think I may be a little bipolar too.... just a little.

Anyway, wishing you happiness this moment, Sue! (even if you're asleep -- not sure what time it is now where you are!)

(weird about the Pete Best connection!)

P.S. I often think that those people who are happiest/most content are those who've made it through some great adversity. I can't say I've ever gone through such a thing.. not really. They then have a much more thankful outlook on the small things in life. (kinda like how the happiest, sweetest-natured dogs are often the ones that were rescued from the pound)

Lucy said...


OK, here's another thought. I've often believed that having too many choices in life leads to unhappiness. And maybe in today's world, we're too spoiled. This is kinda what the psychologist is hinting at, with regard to the choices about keeping the photos.

At least this seems true for me.

grace said...

Hi Sue, it is hard to keep that happiness feeling, enjoy all the happy moments. xoxo

Lucy said...

Hi dear Sue,

Just wanted to say again, sorry about the bottle! :-)

I dunno. Just one of those days. I'm sure you can relate.

I get these swings of low-self-esteem and depression sometimes. Out of nowhere. Where I just want to crawl into bed for hours on end.

I think work was got me down again today. It's hard to pinpoint sometimes.

Anyway, just wanted you to know, I really do value your blogship.

Lucy. xo

Suesjoy said...

Oh Lucy!
No hard feelings!!!
I am the one who must apologize for being a stupido.

I have VERY quick reflexes anyway...
you missed by a MILE.

You are a wonderful blog bud.

re: zee cat. oh man Anjoli is a bit allergic, and hubby is dead set against it because of the litter.
I am going to push for a cute little dog. That's what this family needs!
But we are all partial to cats for some reason. They are so beautiful (and low maintenance).
I want to work eventually though, so I wouldn't want to leave a dog for too long alone in the apartment.
Oh brother. That's the pet or not to have a pet situation here!

Sue- Yes I agree that happiness is situational, BUT if you watch the video, the psychologist talks about this man who was unjustly imprisoned for a bazillion years (DNA evidence proved he was innocent) and the man described it as being a "glorious" time!
So happiness is all attitude, I think.
My prob is not getting out of the house enough/not being able to work. Work is very important! Feeling useful...

I am with you, Chelice.
But what if my passion is Pete Townshend ???
(Sujoy is so jealous...poor guy!).

Right on Ebezp! Some days are easier than others to "live for the day" though. Nice to see you! Thanks for visiting my bloggie.

Thanks Grace- I am enjoying the happy moments and realizing that the bad times always pass.

Hi again Lucy. As I said on your blog- we are kindred spirits! I think you are right that we are very sensitive too - which is a GOOD thing, I think.
I get down if I am in the house too much, yes.
I derive a lot of joy from nature too. Yes - the simple pleasures - just looking at trees makes me happy. I need to camp more, I think. It's important to get out of the city and be close to nature. It does so much for the soul.
I hear you about wanting to crawl under the covers and not get up. That's all I was doing last week- I would come back from walking Anjoli to school and sleep until noon- just to escape feeling lonely and alienated. But today I volunteered at the Community Center and had a great time - felt like I was "working" but got to chat with lots of very sweet people (mostly AMERICANS!!).
I'm tired of sleeping so much, I am feeling much more adventurous now.
I am thinking of just getting on public buses to go "sight seeing" and exploring...that's a good sign...the funk is lifting!

Lucy said...

I'm glad your funk is lifting. Moods are so capricious sometimes. You never know when one is going to hit you.

Good to get out, Sue. Glad you're volunteering and sight-seeing. I would feel SO LONELY and homesick if I were in your shoes! I don't blame you. You sound strong though. KIT.

- Lucy.

Suesjoy said...

Hi again Lucy!
Thanks for commenting again here.
I am no longer homesick - getting out more, sleeping a bit less.
I have been very very tired lately - and I really think it's part of the recovery. I have read that you can feel great one minute and then suddenly feel the urge to nap.
I seem to have a very hard time in the morning especially. Maybe I need to eat a bigger breakfast then work out.

My mood has been EXCELLENT this week. But yeah, I do think moods are capricious. I wish they weren't.