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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More About the Additive Property of Happiness

Hello Dear Reader, you’re looking especially dapper today!

Random Aside: That salutation is a shout out to my dear friend Emily – this started because I randomly told her once on Facebook something to the effect that she was looking “hot in that shirt”. She naturally responded, “You’re in a different time zone, how could you possibly know if I look hot?” To which I responded, “You always look hot, I don’t have to be there to see it to know.” And, indeed, I don’t. Emily, you look smoking hot in that shirt today.

Anyway, my readers, today is a special day. It is special because today is what is known as a “twofer”. No, not the 30 Rock kind – I am no Tina Fey, no matter how much I wish I were, she is hilarious and I am just mildly funny sometimes. Today is a twofer because this is a day when two posts will be posted. It’s two-for-one, a twofer. The twofer wouldn’t have happened, but I woke up grouchy and then my WiFi acted all dodgy and I got unreasonably and excessively irritated and had to write an entire post about how dodgy WiFi is the worst thing ever. Because I’m totally normal like that.

I could have just left it at that, but I said yesterday that I would write more about the Additive Property of Happiness today. I’m the type of person that thinks that if you say you’re going to do something then you should do it. Even more than that, I am the sort of person who can procrastinate a champion. If I decide that it isn’t a big deal to not follow through with what I said I would do then it could be a very long time indeed before I actually do it. Even that would be fine, except I’d probably feel guilty about it every day I didn’t do it, and that would be uncomfortable. Like a cilice of the mind. (Boom! Take THAT Freshman Honor’s English, I DO remember things from Voltaire!) I hate feeling uncomfortable. (My current shirt is a very soft cotton tee, I don’t believe in suffering for beauty… and yes, Emily, I DO look smoking hot in this shirt.)

I’m digressing a lot. You’ll get used to that, if you continue reading this blog. Or if you know me. My brain is an interesting if erratic place… and I like it like that.

Don’t worry, I’m focusing.

The Additive Property of Happiness:
The Additive Property of Happiness is based on the idea that is based on this idea that I have that the more positive you put out into the world, the more positive comes back to you and the people you care about. If it were an image it would be the image of ripples in water after it is hit by another drop of water – expanding outward from the beginning point.

The fact is, though, that the same could be true of negativity. The more negativity you put out, the more that comes back to you. That is true, and I have seen it happen. From what I have seen, it is a destructive thing that hurts all the people around it, but even more, it hurts the person that is putting it out. Seriously, think about the people you know who are unpleasant, sour, and mean – are any of them happy people? There are probably a few exceptions to this, but I have yet to meet someone who frequently puts out negativity who is, themselves, happy.  This is just anecdotal evidence, but I have also read about several studies that have said, in essence, people who are happy tend to be healthier, have more friends, and are, well, happier.

It’s sort of a chicken and the egg scenario. Which came first, the conditions that make a person happy or the happiness that led to better conditions? It’s hard to know. If I were trying to do a scientific study, I would want to figure that out. I, however, am not doing a scientific study. I am writing a blog and trying to be happy so my methodology can be faulty and my logic can be full of fallacies. How you design your experiment, and how seriously you adhere to the scientific method, really depends on your goals. My goal is to be happy and, with any luck, make other people happy, so I don’t have to adhere strictly to anyone’s rules but my own. And physics. Physics can be a truly harsh taskmaster.

I still haven’t directly answered the question of “Why the Additive Property of Happiness” versus “The Additive Property of Negativity”? The answer is this, I don’t want to be negative or unhappy. I want to try to lift people up instead of bring them down. I want the world to be a happier place, not a miserable one. That’s not to say that I’m not a firm believer in people’s right to feel however they feel – I don’t believe that there are bad emotions (this will be the topic of a future post) – I simply believe that there is a difference between emotions and actions, and that circumstances don’t have to determine your emotions or your happiness.

Ultimately, I can only control myself. I can only change myself. I am, however, a part of a larger system, and what I do and choose to be can sometimes impact the other parts of the system. You guys, my readers, are part of that system and, if at all possible, I want to impact you positively. That makes some of you feel better, and that makes me feel better. When I feel better I am healthier, more energetic, and more able to go out and make a positive contribution to the world. The effect is amplified.


I have existed in conditions that made it easy for me to be unhappy and harder to be happy. I did not like it, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. There are still circumstances that could make it easier for me to be unhappy, but I have learned to choose to be happy most of the time. I could be a martyr, and I’ve gone that route before, but I noticed that no one really cared. (Stay tuned for the upcoming post, “No One Cares That You’re Acting Like A Martyr) In the end, that made others less happy, and made me A LOT less happy. It didn’t seem worth it, and I think that is because it wasn’t. So I choose to focus on the Happiness and Positivity versus the negativity.

Finally, I would like to leave you with one thought – several recent studies have shown that happiness is contagious. In fact, it is even more contagious than sadness. Happiness is, therefore, the option that requires the least amount of effort. Now I, for one, have important things to do (like, today, I have a Twins game to watch on MLB.tv and I need to determine if I have the drive to make something other than popcorn for dinner – hey man, don’t judge), so if happiness is the easy option, that is the option I choose.

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