New Thoughts On How To Be Happy

August 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I have just read two articles of note.  One published in the New York Times “But Will It Make You Happy”  the other on CNN “Homesickness Isn’t Really About Home”.

The reason why I’m bringing up both articles is because they both – for different reasons – relate happiness to relationship.

The NYT article discusses the new trends in consumers, due to the economic downturn, which is actually creating a higher level of happiness.  Instead of spending money on “things” consumers are spending money on experiences.

” New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses.” – NYT

“‘It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea,” says Professor Dunn, summing up research by two fellow psychologists, Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich.”

The whole article goes on to discuss that buying stuff creates a rush that is short lived but having an experience like a BBQ or wine tasting with friends on a beautiful day, has lasting effect.  That’s because in the BBQ or the wine tasting we can experience the outdoors – or a special setting in the case of tasting wine – laughter, friends, drinks and food.  These are experiences that feed and change who we are while a new blouse becomes old after the second time we wear them.

The CNN article discusses homesickness as missing the relationships and environment that made us feel safe at some point in our lives.  It also discusses the extreme of it, which can be debilitating, but not the point of my post.

“…homesickness isn’t necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said. Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health.” – CNN

I left home when I was 18 years old and I have never gone back for more than two months at a time- when I’m working there – and two weeks at a time, when I’m visiting.

Recently I started to feel “homesick”.  When I let my mind wonder to see what the feeling actually meant to me, I realized I was missing the intimacy, love and safety of a family environment.  I was also remembering fondly the places that were so much part of my growing up.  I’m able to have those feelings in my heart because the tough woman who went out into the world and fight is becoming more and more a loving and secure woman who doesn’t have to fight to get what she needs.  The fighting is lessening as I realize there are other ways to live life.

While buying things can be fun having experiences create happiness.  And while going after what we want and out into the world is a necessity, balancing that with maintaining the relationships we have while creating new ones is a must.

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  ~Jane Howard

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.  ~Benjamin Franklin

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