By Stephanie Nielson.
My husband is always telling me that I need to be more positive. How, I ask, when I live in a country that elects George Bush not once, but twice, do you expect me to be more positive? Husband always responds by telling me that optimistic people live longer, have healthier hearts, and have the capacity to run marathons and lift up semi-trucks off of a trapped puppy dog.
Bah. What Dan fails to realize is that I enjoy being a slightly cantankerous quasi-grumpy intellectual with somewhat elitist notions. I was raised that way by my parents (The same parents who thought it would be comforting to tell me about all the people they knew who died of DVT while Dan was in the hospital with....DVT) and I have no intention of running a marathon anytime soon.
Well, I finally have some back up for my theory that grumpy people are better (I may be simplifying things a bit, but roll with me.) Behold, my new favorite Newsweek Article, entitled, "Happiness:Enough Already."
Some Gems: "They like being dour, and didn't appreciate being told they should be happier." Exactly. Well said Newsweek.
Apparently, there is even a new book out entitled Against Happiness. Written by a man who spent a year forcing himself to jog (raise endorphin levels,) smile all the time, and sprinkle his conversations with words like "Great!" and "Wonderful," he finally gave up and returned to his previous lifestyle of overall grumpiness.
Here is the point to make some clarifications. The article, the author of Against Happiness, and myself are not actually against being happy. You see, I'm actually a pretty happy person. Why shouldn't I be. Obama is killing in the elections, I have a great husband who likes to cook and knows how to run a vacuum cleaner, and I got accepted to Grad School (every quasi-intellectual elitists dream.) What I am against is that overwhelming chipperness that self-help books keep pushing. Like those bloggers who log on only to extol about their husband's cuteness or their state of blessedness, I simply get irritated by superficial sunniness.
The most interesting part of the article notes that Happiness, like money, has become a commodity in American society. Like the material idea of keeping up with the Joneses, "Being Happy," is now something you have to compete for. While most Americans state that they are "pretty happy" there is a culture of self-help books, therapists, and even pharmaceutical companies that try and tell you that if you aren't happy 100% of the time, you need a prescription for Prozac.
I guess I am feeling that peer pressure alot lately. Since Dan's little stint in the hospital, I have had countless well-meaning people tell me not to worry or not be sad, or not feel any emotion not associated with perfect optimism. And I would like to point out that what I am feeling is perfectly normal. We had a scary situation and that necessitates a little worry, and maybe a little grief over the care-free attitude Dan and I had before we considered injecting him with Lovenox twice a day a suitable date-night activity.
Things are going to be ok. Dan is doing better. But I'd like to end this rant with a study from the article. It measured how much education/income a person received with their level of happiness on a scale from 1 to 10. (1 being miserable, 10 being freakishly happy.) Guess what? The 7's and 8's of the world earned more, were more likely to finish their undergraduate education, and overall dealt with grief a lot better.
So there. All you 10's that are so busy running marathons. I'll be seeing you on my yacht.