The day after Thanksgiving finds many either longing to sleep in or rising early for Black Friday mayhem. Though my mind is still a bit foggy from all the food I ate yesterday, a theme IS emerging from my befuddled gray matter, however. Brief snippets of dialogue heard from an NPR program, a few paragraphs read from a book on the brain, and several lines of diary scribbles pop up, all touching on the pursuit of happiness.
No easy task, defining a term many find elusive. Science deems it worth researching. It’s a relatively new field so results are not conclusive, but here are several ideas gleaned from yesterday’s brief times away from the table.
*Happiness might better be explained as a cluster of qualities describing a state of well-being.
*It is not to be confused with pleasure, which is directly affected by time and circumstances. Take pumpkin pie. I love it! But just a slice or two, and only at holiday meals. If I ate a whole pie…YUCK . And if I ate it year -round it would lose its appeal. A pleasure constantly repeated can lead to repulsion, cravings or addictions.
*We humans arrive with an innate sense of cooperation. Society’s obsession with competition whittles that away.
*Observing with compassion the needs of others and working cooperatively to eliminate them, even on a small scale, has a positive effect on well-being of both sides.
*Money doesn’t buy happiness unless it is given to others regularly or largely. Generous folks are among the happiest.
*But, an act of generosity that is done solely for the warm fuzzy feeling will not do the trick.
*Authenticity matters in the pursuit of happiness.
(The illustration of the book cover is one published by MIT Press.)