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
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.)