Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Happiness Factor

Sunday, I was thinking about happiness or perhaps, a better phrase is: optimism. The glass half full or empty thing. I was wondering what factors made folks optimists and some folks pessimists, and actually did a small amount of research on this point. Some factors were genetic, some were environmental, and the others were free will and determination to set one's course a certain way.

I am one of those genuinely happy and optimistic folks, seeing challenges as opportunities. But I haven't always been like that, so I was reflecting back to see how and when this change took place.

Then, Monday, yesterday, the day I was going to share my thoughts on happiness, I got a call that a special friend of mine, a 30 year friend, was killed suddenly in a tractor accident.

Obviously, I don't feel like writing about happiness. But today, Tuesday, as I am sitting a personal, meditative shiva to absorb the transition of my relationship with David form one on an earthly plane to a spiritual one, I pondered: what is my happiness quotient now?

My answer is that optimism is a better word (at times) than happiness. I am still optimistic. I feel that I and many are blessed for having David touch our lives. I am at peace with his next journey in the spiritual realm. Yet, I mourn the loss. But this mourning, although certainly not a happy process, does not dim my optimistic take on life.

Suffice it to say for now, that I believe we can create in our lives, certain set points on the optimism/pessimism balance. And we can give ourselves a foundation that will hold our set point when the winds of change and life batter us. And my loss was tragic, but it did not shake my foundation.

I will ponder this set point concept-- this "how do we create optimistic foundations in our lives" a bit more and hopefully be moved to share my thoughts with you. Please feel free to share yours with me. Do you have a happiness set point? And how do you maintain it.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Ann, I am so sorry that you lost your friend...

Your question about happiness set-points is an interesting one. I know I have one -- it is set pretty high I'm happy to say -- but I don't "maintain" it, it just is. It seems to me to be a physiological thing, rather than an emotional one. That is to say: it feels just as natural and steady as my heart beat...and under about as much conscious control (none!) I believe an individual's happiness set-point is genetic and hard-wired during development in utero.