I recently read an article from The Atlantic about personality and the quest for happiness.
Such contradictions arise all the time. If you ask people which makes them happier, work or vacation, they will remind you that they work for money and spend the money on vacations. But if you give them a beeper that goes off at random times, and ask them to record their activity and mood each time they hear a beep, you’ll likely find that they are happier at work. Work is often engaging and social; vacations are often boring and stressful. Similarly, if you ask people about their greatest happiness in life, more than a third mention their children or grandchildren, but when they use a diary to record their happiness, it turns out that taking care of the kids is a downer—parenting ranks just a bit higher than housework, and falls below sex, socializing with friends, watching TV, praying, eating, and cooking.
I don't really think it was a great article, but the paragraph above has really stayed with me. Basically, it really pissed me off. I'm not sure who the writer Paul Bloom spoke to, but I'm sorry, I'm not happier at work. There are moments when work can be satisfying, challenging and other positive adjectives. But my real life, thoughts, dreams, take place outside of work. And I truly wish the balance of time was more even. I spend way too much of my time under fluorescents. And the similar crap above about parenting. Yes, it can be a major pain in the ass sometimes - more so than I ever imagined when I dreamt of having a baby. But it is also wonderful and surprising. And by the by, how many ecstatically happy single people do you know?
I guess what really bugs me about all of this happy talk is just that - why is happiness the ultimate goal? Is life supposed to be happy, all the time? Aren't the good moments, just like laughter, chocolate, great sex, mental realization, supposed to be peak moments?
Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty darn happy right now, especially about the recent election. But I would say that an average day for me has its shares of laughs, frustrations, downright anger, and happy times too. Most fairy tales and movies end with that Frozen Happy Moment, as if the characters lives will continue in that state perpetually. I'm not trying to impose a happiness goal on myself, but rather, I am looking more for those little moments of happiness, that I can try to create, or be surprised by, in my day-to-day life.