Monday, September 21, 2009

Mondays and being happy!

So I was thinking on the way to the library this morning...

I'm tired. And I was good this weekend. Didn't sleep in that late (well, kind of on Saturday), didn't drink too much wine, got just about enough rest and exercised and ate well. And I love school, but I still feel so, Monday!

What is this all about? I love the professors, content, students and setting. I like being busy. I like learning so much. I look around me and am awed by the setting I'm standing (sitting at the moment) in. What's my deal?

The problem is me. Mondays maybe are legitimately a little rough for us all, sure, and to be fair to myself, I can't expect it to be much better for me. But my larger point here is more important.

No matter how great the setting, we are stuck with who we are, and our happiness is predicated mostly on that. Psychologists tell us that we have happiness set points--the place we usually sit in terms of our attitude toward life. Win the lottery, lose a spouse, we vary widely, but if we don't have a psychic break or get clinically depressed, we return to our happiness set points eventually. It's weird, but life has shown me that it is true.

This was confirmed last year. No work stress, money stress was fairly minimal, and sometimes weeks without the other things that people tend to complain about. I love it. But you know what, I wasn't that much happier. I was happy (but I usually am), and I was certainly more relaxed. There were those months leading up to the trip where the stressors were really high, so I was even a bit less happy (and so I did feel a change while on my trip), but the truth is, that my setting only allowed me the opportunity to return to my happiness set point. And I did.

What's this have to do with Mondays? Well, I'm thinking that no matter how much I love my job or school, maybe my happiness set point will always make me feel at best ambivalent toward Mondays (a social scientific stretch, but bear with me). Maybe I shouldn't use Mondays as a barometer for how much I love my occupation.

Or, maybe I need to change my brain. The one thing that is most notable for changing happiness set points is meditation. Monastic people are actually some of the happiest people in the world, as it turns out. I don't see the monastic life coming my way, but it does make me think.

If I want to be happy, I only need change my circumstances enough to make sure they aren't preventing me from joy, that they aren't some sort of chronic stressor or depressant. Otherwise, I'm going to have to develop my inner life.

(I don't know why I was thinking about this today, except for the Monday thing...anyway, a window inside my head).

Then again, I love my life as it is. So maybe the semi-bliss that it is is good enough. =)

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