Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy 101

Synchronicity recently had me reading, in two separate found magazines, about being happy. Or, as every over-analytical mild-moderate depressive sees this phrase,

BEING HAPPY.

Because that, my friends, is the Holy Effing Grail. A seemingly unattainable state that seems to hover just above our grasp.

The first article was in a Reader's Digest (non-Mormon reading material is sparse at the Grandies', and I'd memorized the nutrition labels from all the packages.) The gist of it- or the 'gest of it, hee! was that tiny happies add up to Big Gestalt Happy. Happy people have things like Donut Mondays or Sushi Saturdays or a standing BFF thrifting date to look forward to. They create little ritual bites of yay, and they savor them.

Thus: Schmutzie nailed it with Grace in Small Things. (Which I just mistyped as Grace in Small Thongs, which could be your thing, my own loathing of butt-floss notwithstanding.) Thinking big is the bane of me, so this is a lesson to which I am striving.

The next article was in The Atlantic, and I'm terribly sorry but I've misplaced it so I can't tell you the issue date. However, the cover photo/illustration is this insanely bright laughing dude that was so very endearing. The article recounts a famous study of many many male Harvard grads from youth to um, death. (Bonus factoid: JFK was one and his results will be accessible in 2014 and I'm weirdly interested in them.) The article suggest that the factors making a happy person (well- man. The study group was almost exclusively male because Harvard was as well) are more elusive than we imagine. Money, not a factor. In fact, power & prestige tended to make explosive pressure-cookers out of the poor dudes' brains.

The lessons here are annoyingly similar to the assessments made by one of my former therapists. The annoyance, of course, lies in the years between his prescription for focusing on little wonders and my deciding to let it start to sink in. It seems thinking big and in extremes is part of my psyche permanently, but I'm finding ways to live in this head more easily.

Right now I'm dealing much more with anxiety than depression. I'm a thousand times more functional than in the grips of the black, but I need to get to a better place with my tension. In the mean time, I may need a guard thingy for my teeth before I grind them into bits.


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