Happiness

Free Amazon Gift Card

Posted by 20 October, 2008 (1) Comment

I’m participating in the 10 Day Give. Part of my 10 Day Give is to give away a $20 Amazon gift card. In order to be eligible for the gift card, please place in the comment section below, the nicest thing that you’ve done for another blogger this week (8:00 am CST on Oct. 20th, 2008 – 11:59 pm CST on Oct. 24th, 2008). Please be specific and list the web address of the blog that your great deed has gone toward. The only rules of the contest are that you can’t do something nice for me. The winner will be announced next Monday morning (October 27th) in the Cool Links weekly edition so be sure to stay tuned via RSS!

Categories : Happiness Tags : , ,

Happiness is U-Shaped

Posted by 4 September, 2008 (5) Comment

According to Jerry Kennard (article), if we could draw out a diagram over our lifetime, our happiness level would be in the form of a “U”. If there is in fact a midlife crisis, that would of course fall in the middle of our lifetime at the bottom of the curve. The study suggests that this is independent of gender, economic status, and a range of other factors.

Here’s a look at The Guardian in an article published this year (link).

They found that the following may be the reason for this U-shaped happiness curve:

“However, one possibility is that individuals learn to adapt to their strengths and weaknesses, and in mid-life quell their infeasible aspirations. Another possibility is that cheerful people live systematically longer.”

A third possibility is that older people might compare their lives with their peers’. Seeing their friends die could mean people value their remaining years more highly.”

My take is that at the beginning of the U-shape, or early on in life, people are generally too ignorant and lack the life experience to know that life isn’t always easy. Sometimes, there are bumps in the road. The age old question of “would you rather be dumb and happy or smart and miserable” comes to mind.

Later in life, it seems as though a lot of people become disillusioned. They had all of these life long goals that they feel will never come to fruition. And why didn’t they? Some people have had extenuous circumstances. Other people may claim that “life got in the way while they were making other plans” in the form of work, children and other responsibilities. But, as I heard from a speaker the other evening, “you are in life exactly where you want to be”.

Later in life, when the happiness curve is heading upwards, people may be coming to terms with their “life’s work”. I also agree with the author from The Guardian that “seeing their friends die could mean people value their remaining years more highly”.

Does happiness in your life have to take the form of a U-shape? I hope not. Thankfully, we all have choices in life. What are you going to choose?

Here are some other articles I found on the topic:

@ Ethelbert’s Transcripts

@ Smart Economy

@ So When are You Going to Retire

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Categories : Happiness Tags : ,

Real Happiness or Perceived Happiness?

Posted by 6 July, 2008 (2) Comment

My wife and I just got back from a trip to Austin where we attended a friend’s wedding. Not to get off track, but if you haven’t been to Austin and you enjoy music, people watching, and the outdoors, then it’s a destination you really must consider.

At any rate, my wife and I were talking about how we’d love to live in Austin again (it’s where we went to college, and where we met). There are many features that appeal to us. We both still have a lot of friends down there which is a big plus. Because Austin is known for being more environmentally and socially conscious, we feel the city and the people are more aligned with our values. Bike lanes are everywhere, which is really cool in my opinion. There are also a lot of music, cultural and community festivals that you don’t get in a lot of other cities. Not to mention the small matter of our UT football season tickets (Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of my zeal, I’m already starting to watch old games from last season and we’re still 2 months away from the first game). The immediate downside to Austin is the housing prices which are probably the highest in Texas (more than likely still cheap compared the east and west coasts). There really aren’t any other negatives.

However, I brought up the point, would we really be happier down there, or is this happiness a perceived one only? My wife and I agreed that we probably would not be happier per se, but there is a lot to be said for your social surroundings.

I then applied this thought process to our upcoming move (we are trying to sell our house and move into a house with a lower payment that is closer to downtown Fort Worth), and whether it is real happiness or perceived happiness that is driving us to a particular location. We certainly feel that moving to a more centrally located area will make us happier. For me, it’ll make me happy because of the financial ramifications – i.e. saving money, getting out of debt, etc. It’ll also make me happy when I don’t have to drive as far for work, to meet with friends downtown or for my soccer games. For my wife, I know it’ll make her happy to cut her commute down from about an hour, to 15 minutes. I think she’ll also enjoy not driving towards downtown for entertainment. We’d also be very close to bike trails, musuems, and parks.

For these reasons, I think moving to central Fort Worth would bring us real happiness. The largest downside of moving into Fort Worth from Keller (where we currently live) would be that Keller ISD has a very good reputation, and it is a safe community in which to raise a family. And while these factors are important, we don’t necessarily feel as though it is worth all of the sacrifices we are making to live so far from town.

After thinking about this all weekend applying these ideas of happiness both to our current situation and possible future moves, my conclusion is that moving to Austin in and of itself may only bring us perceived happiness, but if we were able to find good jobs (or, hopefully, work for ourselves) and we lived centrally, it may in fact bring real happiness.

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