Happiness, one day late

I couldn’t bring myself to post something about happiness on Wednesday after writing about the death of Sen. Kennedy, but I did think about it alot. And mostly what I thought was this: Why do we often sabotage our own happiness?

For instance, I know through experience that exercise makes me happy. The problem is, it doesn’t make me

Clipart from clipartheaven
Clipart from clipartheaven

happy until about 20 minutes into a 40 minute workout. Before that time, staying in bed feels so much better. Staying in bed doesn’t, in the long run, make me happier, but it feels better than those first 15 minutes of pulling on my workout clothes, brushing my teeth, and getting to the gym or out on the sidewalk. (This goes back to the difference between happiness and pleasure, which I’ve discussed before.)

So sometimes, I just don’t go. Even though I KNOW it will make me happier once I’m done exercising. Being with people makes me happy, but being with people usually involves driving way out from Oro Valley into Tucson because the people I like most live near the UA or in southeast Tucson and, I don’t get pleasure from driving. So my immediate pleasure/comfort gets in the way of my long term happiness.

I receive phone calls from some distant relatives off and on, usually – but not always – when they’re angry about something. After listening to them, I often think they are getting in the way of their own happiness by trying desperately to change things that are out of their control. They waste tons of time and energy in that area, leaving them drained and hopeless and unable to change the things that ARE in their control and that would, in the long run, make them happier. It is frustrating to watch.

So, I’m just wondering, dear readers, do any of you have this problem? Do you get in the way of your own happiness? Do you grab for the short-term pleasure ignoring the consequences that will surely make you unhappy? Why do you think we do this? (One possible answer: In the U.S. we have grown, quite literally in many cases, fat and lazy. We live in the land of excess and zero self-control … so maybe we are just undisciplined, making us unable to really grab the true happiness ring.)

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4 comments

  1. No. You know, factually, from many studies that if your goal is “happiness” then the answer is buddhism, and meditiation.
    It isn’t exercise, it isn’t praying, it isn’t god
    Maybe someday we will have a (legal) pill, but until then ask yourself why you examine every solution except for the one which is known to work.
    Or more introspectively, ask yourself if your goal truly is “happiness”.

    • Hi Tip:
      Really, studies show that the answer to happiness is buddhism or meditation? Can yo point me in the direction of those studies? I know of the ones they’ve done simultaneoulsy on the buddhist monks and cloistered nuns, showing that both groups, spending deep hours in silence (first group calling it meditation, the second calling it prayer), had a larger capacity for peace in life.
      The woman who started the Happiness Project spent a year examining all the advice out there on how to achive it (including, if I recall correctly, meditation) and her book about it all should be out soon, but you could poke around her site, here, if interested. As for the question about if the goal is truly happiness, I think it is a good one, and I also think it depends on definitions. Some people think happiness means one thing, others, another. Maybe what most people want, actually, is more peacefulness. thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. We’ve had that discussion about human “being” vs. human “doing”, and what exactly is happiness, aside from a temporary state of being.  I was raised a Jodo-shu Buddhist, did a lot of meditation, and I joined this Happiness Project to find out more about what other people are doing to attain this elusive goal of happiness.  Death is a part of Life according to us Buddhists.  I wonder if Peace of Mind shouldn’t be the ultimate goal to reach Nirvana.

  3. Renee, also many thanks again for the Happiness (happyness?) Project prize of the “Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up” book.  I’m laughing a lot reading it as he is quite funny as you stated.  Coming from Hawaii, I especially loved the story “Shark Bait” about an unusual boating trip. Score one for the hammerhead shark.

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