Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 38: Happiness Meters

I just read a New York Magazine article entitled "All Joy and No Fun" about the ongoing question of whether parenting makes you happy. (Why I read these things, given that it doesn't appear I'll ever have the a horse in this particular race, is beyond me...perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment?) The general tenor of the article is that 98% of research shows that having kids lowers happiness in every way imaginable. But then at the end, the author makes an important distinction: Do we define happiness/satisfaction/fulfillment in terms of moment-to-moment assessments, or the big picture? That distinction, according to the author, can change the answer.

This is worth thinking about, no matter where we are in life. My sense is that most of us define things both ways...and that either perspective carries with it the possibility to either buoy us up or sink us like a rock tied around our ankles.

My tendency is to live minute-to-minute, at least in terms of my happiness meter. Which helps me survive disappointment, but leaves me vulnerable to being overwhelmed when the big picture flashes across my screen. One of my best friends, in contrast, gets through the never-ending demands of her particular life by keeping the big picture right at the forefront, finding motivation to get through the endless little demands by having such a clear sense of where her efforts are taking her.

I'd guess that most of us drift back and forth between these two...and that often it feels like we're floating in a sea of question marks. And as I turn this dilemma toward God, I can't help but notice that the less tied in we are to specific relationships--spouses and children in particular--the tougher it can be to see where we're going. Those are some pretty big relational holes to fill, and they play a big part in defining who we become, how we spend our time, and what are goals are. So the question becomes, What do we do in the meantime? How do we stay on track for that sense of happiness/fulfillment/satisfaction that comes from living a meaningful, purposeful life?

There's no one answer to this...but there must be answers. Today, let's ask God for an individualized program for OUR happily ever after, both in the minute to minute and big picture sense.

If you hear something encouraging, share it below!


Sarakastic said...

Little things make me happy like when the word verification mimics an actual word or something that should be a word.

KimberlyH said...

This past spring, I was getting really frustrated with my job. The day-to-day stuff was just really boring and discouraging, so when I heard of a great job at another company (in a related/different industry) I really wanted to pursue it. I kind of felt like I was being impatient - I'm not sure if that was from God or me. Ultimately, I stopped pursuing the other job, because it didn't fit into my big picture goals for my life. It would have been more fun day-to-day. But I felt like I have more of an opportunity to make a difference in things that I care about - long term - in my current job.
Now, 4 months later, things have quite improved (slowly over 4 months and more dramatically today!) and I'm so glad I stayed and didn't give up on the the 'big' dream.