I just read a guy’s post from LinkedIn, where he quoted a lot of the research on happiness. The results are much as you’ve heard in folk sayings– wake up and smell the coffee, stop and smell the roses, happiness is the butterfly that flits away when you chase it but comes back when you sit quietly, etc. etc.But I had to post a little comment, as follows:
There’s also another angle on all of this, as typified by a story I read in children’s book once: A boy gets a wish, and wishes that he will always be happy. Sure enough, he feels very happy. Then he goes back to his village and his house has burned down. But he still feels happy. then a series of bad things happen, but he always feels happy. People think he’s weird, and he recognizes that it’s not right to feel happy even when bad things happen. But the story has a happy ending– he gets changed back to being sad over sad things, happy over happy things. Life’s a mixed bag, and ya gotta feel it.
there was a lot more info in the post, including that people have the most subjectively positive experience when they’re caught up in what they’re doing. Not thinking about things, but being. I’m not surprised. One of the books I remember from my partly misspent youth is John Lily’s Center of the Cyclone. In it he discusses (if I remember correctly after all these years) a theory of altered states of consciousness in which there are both the ecstatic states and highly negative altered states. The thing I remember best is the assertion that the most positive altered state that is regularly available to people is that in which the doer and the task become one– the craftsman lost in the craft, the artist becoming one with the creation of art, or the gardener absorbed in gardening. I think you get the idea. So the greatest happiness lies in doing something with your whole focus. But what if you’re not good at anything? That’s a topic for another time.