I was really happy wandering in those memories, not paying particular attention to the task of driving. Which makes me wonder about the study I wrote about last week that said that people are the least happy when their mind is wandering.
Penelope Trunk wrote about the happiness/mind-wandering study in her post, 5 Reasons to Stop Trying to Be Happy. She contends that being happy and being interesting are mutually exclusive. She prefers being unhappy because she would rather be interesting than happy. Her blog is my favorite to read, so maybe she has a point. I prefer her to be interesting too.
But I do also read the blogs of some other unhappy people, and I even know some unhappy people in real life. And while they are certainly interesting, they are exhausting. Reading or hearing a litany of everything that is wrong with the world makes me tired. No, exhausted. And after hearing too much of it something else happens, it becomes totally uninteresting. So then you’re stuck with uninteresting and unhappy.
Penelope Trunk will never be boring to me, probably because she is such an insightful writer. But for those of us without her superpowers, unhappiness risks breeding uninteresting-ness.
The cure: gratitude.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that grateful people are happier, and live longer than the ingrates. (Although it did not opine on whether they were less interesting.) Research conducted over the last ten years shows that “adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not.” It also reveals that they are “less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.”
While some experts believe that such temperament is at least partially baked in, a University of Miami study conducted in 2003 showed that practicing gratitude, irrespective of your genetic temperament, makes you feel better. Study participants were assigned to either list five things they were grateful for, five things that annoyed them, or five things that happened to them that week. Those that were assigned the grateful lists reported a greater sense of wellbeing than those with the other two assignments. “Being grateful also forces people to overcome what psychologists call the ‘negativity bias’—the inner tendency to dwell on problems,” and actually helps ward off depression.
I’m not so sure I buy Penelope Trunk’s contention that she is not content. Seems to me the title of her post could have been 5 Reasons I’m Grateful for Being Interesting, because it sounds to me, like she’s perfectly happy letting her mind wander, and is very content enjoying the resulting revelations.
This is a post from Retirement: A Full-Time Job