I read somewhere that everyone has a cut-off gauge for happiness — a kind of setpoint.
No matter if something WONDERFUL happens — you hit the lotto, you get your dream job, you lose those pesky 10-20 pounds, have a mind-blowing love fest, meet someone for the first time that you like, get over something painful, etc., etc. But once you experience that PA-POW of happiness, your intrinsic, intangible thing that’s stamped into your own unique DNA will put you back where you are on the continuum of “happiness.” And that’s that until the next big PA-POW happens.
Sigh. I think there’s some truth to that. According to an article in U.S. News, the reason why some appear happier than others has to do with genetics — allegedly 50% of our happiness is responsible for this. Life circumstances have to do with 10% percent of that — you may be rich, gorgeous, have more money — all these external things only have 10% of why you’re happy.
The other 40% is within our control. This was according to an author who wrote a book about how we can “stretch the limits of our pre-programmed temperaments.”
Here’s my interpretation of my “happiness” continuum:
I can go through this whole range in a day, but I find myself somewhere between just past the “happy” to the “a little ticked off” phase most of time. Sometimes I give in to the “sadness” and being just pissed — sometimes for a reason and sometimes for no reason at all.
Happiness — Is it Overrated?
Maybe we put too much emphasis on being happy. We feel like we must be in order to succeed because we know that negative feelings result in negative actions. I don’t consider myself one of those overly-happy people — you’ve met them and seriously, they can be annoying — or maybe I’m just jealous. Perhaps their setpoint is higher than mine. Being “happy” takes more work than being negative or sad. I try to be positive for the most part because it feels better.
But happy, well I’m just not all the time and it probably does have something to do with my genetics and other life stuff I’ve been through. But joy — that to me is the good stuff.
Happy is when you land a great assignment and you excel. Get a new car after you’ve driven an old clunker for awhile. Get a raise. Lose a few pounds and that pair of jeans that didn’t fit, do. It’s a feeling of contentment. It’s pleasurable, it feels good, doesn’t it? You can be happy with Mr. or Ms. “Wrong” for awhile. It lasts for awhile, but it fades a little when that first initial adrenaline pump starts to wear off.
Joy. Joy is a different thing. Joy is when you feel that giddiness from loving someone, that first feeling of fall-l-ling in love. Watching your child take her/his first steps or say a word. Really seeing a sunset or sunrise. Making a difference in someone’s life because of a kind word or deed. It’s indescribable but it feels so good, your body goes through physical changes. It bubbles up inside and feels like it shoots out your fingers and toes. Makes you want to jump up and down. Makes you cry from the overwhelming magnificence of it. Feeling an surety that you are not alone and that you matter.
A baby experiences joy on a regular basis. They just are and they have those big sweet, guttural laughs and feel it way down deep inside them from simply being. I think they’re like animals — they see things that we don’t because we get all caught up in striving to be happy, even when we don’t feel like it.
The older I get the more I just give into those feeling of “meh” or being not so happy because I know eventually it will pass. Sometimes we need help and I’ve been there too.
I don’t know what the point is to my rambling except maybe this: Happiness isn’t something you can chase after. I think it comes in nice little waves and some of us are possibly more genetically predisposed to that feeling of contentment on a more regular basis than others.
I’m okay with that because when those contentment waves come, it feels really good. And joy, well that does too — it’s not as often — because if it stuck around all the time, I’d never get anything done.
I’d be like that little baby and just sit around and laugh all day.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone and you know I had to do it. Press play below.