Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happiness is a fish you can catch

I'm hosting an Oscar party with the Dude on Sunday. It's going to be a dressy affair, with wine, appetizers, and a prize for the person with the most Oscar picks right. I've done up little cards for everyone who's coming. I'm pretty jazzed. I do so enjoy entertaining in this little apartment. It's so cozy.

Unfortunately we have to clean tomorrow. Like hardcore. Have we cleaned since the 13th when the cleaners came? No. No, we have not. Why? Not sure. Sigh. So we have our work cut out for us, and we're currently in the market for an inexpensive maid service because clearly we're total slackers.

So the Dude and I watched part 1 of This Emotional Life. We downloaded it. It's hosted by the same guy who wrote Stumbling On Happiness, which isn't a self help book, though it sounds like one. It's a social study book on human happiness: what makes people happy or unhappy, why we're so bad at predicting what will bring us happiness and that sort of thing. I read it years ago and it actually changed my way of thinking about my life.

Anyway, part one was about the importance of human relationships, be it family, friends or lovers. Interesting theory put out about family being practice for the real world. Like, first you learn how to negotiate emotions within a family, and that prepares you for the bigger picture. The show went on about the importance of attachment in babies, the way oxytocin surges through your body when you have physical contact with someone you love, which creates a bond. We're wired to connect and to desire connections and to feel lost and lonely without them.

Tell us something we don't know, right? But still. Science backing up that we as human beings need love and need to feel connected, and then experience health and emotional problems if that need is not met.

It's a funny thing, the whole happiness question. It's become some sort of entitlement people feel these days. I've come to realize that I have all I need to be happy, and I do things regularly that increase my good feelings by small increments. It works. A grande green tea latte just because. A manicure. Offering a hand to someone who I can see needs help. Snuggling Smokey. Dancing. Beading a new necklace. Getting a hug from The Dude. Lady Gaga on my iPod on the subway. I've really begun to savour the small things.

And sometimes I feel loneliness or sorrow or boredom or resentment. And that those things can co-exist with happiness because negative emotions are part of the human experience.

There was a time I didn't believe that and every negative emotion overwhelmed me and caused me anxiety. I used to react to my sadness with worry and dark imaginings instead of just allowing myself to feel it.

Though it's not a self help book, just understanding, I guess, the rules of happiness or the science behind it set me free. There's no magical mystery I'm missing if I have periods of negativity. I'm happy. Occasionally I'm not because I'm human. Sounds simple enough. But in my early 20s I couldn't have told you that.

Before I go, here's some whatthefuckery.

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