Archives for February 2008

Happiness and Sadness

Happiness and sadness are twins. They walk hand in hand. We must learn to embrace each of them for what they are, to harness our inner happiness and to shake off our sadness when it is time.

happy and sadWhen you spend a lot of time talking about happiness, one can forget that sadness has value, too.  One thing I have always told people is that it is OK to mourn a loss. It is not just “normal”, but it is necessary.

What is not necessary is to remain in a rut of sadness and self-pity.  One needs to mourn, then push the sadness aside and get on with making the most of this wonderful world we live in.  The object of our mourning needs to be transformed from a sadly-missed part of our present to a wonderfully-remembered part of our past.

There is an interesting article on happiness versus sadness in Newsweek right now.  Interestingly, the article makes a case for happiness, but not too much of it over the long run.  Here is a quick excerpt:

On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is extremely happy, 8s were more successful than 9s and 10s, getting more education and earning more. That probably reflects the fact that people who are somewhat discontent, but not so depressed as to be paralyzed, are more motivated to improve both their own lot (thus driving themselves to acquire more education and seek ever-more-challenging jobs) and the lot of their community (causing them to participate more in civic and political life). In contrast, people at the top of the jolliness charts feel no such urgency.

Of course, “successful” is an interesting word. The happiest people might just consider themselves to be more successful, having reached the most happiness possible.

  • Share on Tumblr

Happiness Tops at 20 and 70

“Life begins at 40.”  Whoever started that urban legend must have been one grumpy dude.  The research shows that happiness is actually lowest in our 40’s.

Pity us 40-somethings.  We are are at the low dip of a U of happiness, according to the latest research.

In our 20s we feel there is a big prize to be gained and we rush out into the world gung-ho, conquistadors chasing the gold, explorers going where no-one has gone before.  The world is ours, nothing can go wrong, onward and upward.

In our 40s, we realize there is no prize, at least not for us.  Somebody else has already been where we thought no-one had gone before – to the prize table.  And the first prize they grabbed was a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the other prizes. We won’t be Prime Minister or star quarterback or super model or even just filthy rich. We are at that point where we reflect upon all our failures and why we didn’t make “something” of our lives.  Or, we are simply too busy juggling kids and mortgages and schedules and stress to even remember that we had a dream that we had once been sure we were going to fulfill.

In our 60s comes reflective wisdom, where we realize that the prize didn’t matter anyway, because that’s just not what life is all about.  While we were busy with the kids and the mortgages and juggling schedules, we actually were conquering life one day at a time.  We were living the dream.  We were truly living.  Yes, chasing after a dream is exciting and charges you up with energy – and that is a form of happiness – but the calm of reflection in later years also brings on happiness.

Too bad we have to pass through the valley of despair to conquer the other peak.

Happiest at 20 and 70

Read more about the study conducted at Warwick University and Dartmouth College here.

  • Share on Tumblr