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December 04, 2010


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Savvy Working Gal

Penelope’s blog is also one of my favorites. I too enjoyed her “5 reasons to stop trying to be happy” post. For me, I’d rather pursue an interesting life than a happy life. It seems so much easier and well interesting. I also know that when I keep a gratitude journal I am more insightful and content.

I know what you mean about the unhappy bloggers, some of them are down right bitter.

Your conclusion that Penelope is actually content is insightful and interesting. I particularly like the new blog title you came up with.

Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom

I like PT's blog too. We've emailed a wee bit, and it kind of freaks me out a bit how similar we are (I'm not Aspergers though). I just think that I kind of enjoy being a drama queen without (hopefully) being wearing on other people. I'm not sure if that means being interesting or not. I've just always wanted to live like I'm in a Jack Kerouac "novel":

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”


Welcome back, Syd. I got excited this morning when I was notified there was a new post to enjoy.

There seems to be a fair amount of discussion in the blogosphere about happiness or its lack in recent weeks. I'm not sure why the topic is suddenly top-of-mind, but it is an important one to many.

I take the position that happiness is great. Smiling and being happy make you nice to be around. The problem with happiness is that it's dependent on external forces or circumstances. That is why it is hard to stay happy for extended periods of time. Something or someone else actually controls your happiness.

On the other hand, joy, or being joyful, is an internally controlled state. You may not be happy right now but you can be joyful with yourself, where you life is right now, or where you believe it is headed.

I try to remain joyful for my blessings and opportunities. Happiness is a nice plus when it happens.


Syd, I agree that it is a positive attribute to be happy, positive and thankful. But, is it realistic that we should be happy, shiny people all of the time? To be honest, I see happy shiny people as a little bit superficial and lacking in depth, a lot of people have had a lot of pain in their lives, perhaps these are sort of people you mention that you know that seem unhappy? Not everyone has had an enchanted life, to say that these people are a bore seems a bit narcissistic?

Retired Syd

@Claire: Absolutely, happy people can be boring. But at least they've got the whole happy thing going for them.

The difference between happy people and unhappy people is not whether they have experienced a lot of pain in their lives. If only it were possible to go through life with out pain. It's the skills they use to deal with that pain, and gratitude appears to be one of those helpful skills.

Don't you know any happy people that have suffered terrible hardships? Do you know any unhappy people that think their problems are much worse than other people's? I'm going to have to disagree with the notion that pain is experienced only by the unhappy.

Might it be a little narcissistic to say that happy people are superficial and lacking in depth?

Boring is not limited to the happy, and pain is not limited to the unhappy.

@Bob: I think the way you view joy is the way I view happiness. I don't think anyone is happy all the time, but they can still be a "happy person." Perhaps that is a joyful person? I think I may view you these things as the same, actually.


I think so much of whether one is 'happy' or not is a matter of inborn temperment. I have five adopted children, and while their lives have changed and improved greatly over the years, their initial temperments have not. My oldest daughter, who has successfully overcome so many traumas from her past, is still the same stubborn, pessimistic person she has always been. I dislike these kinds of analysis because they seem to blame people for innate traits that can be softened but not eliminated over time. It's a lot like blaming people for having cancer and not being 'positive' enough about it. Say what? One can't be bummed out about such a diagnosis? I'm generally an optimistic and even happy person, but spare me the terminally perky types!

Retired Syd

@Grace: I think that has proven to be true. In the article I linked to, the experts that were cited said that about 50% of happiness is genetic (although, I don't know how they come up with an exact percentage.)

I don't think it's about blaming people, though. I would hope it would be about helping people.

For example, my husband has a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He takes medication, exercises, and tries to eat right to combat the negative effect of this genetic predisposition. No one is blaming him, but he does have to participate if he wants to help himself stay healthy.

I make an assumption (that may not actually be true) that people do actually want to feel happy. That they feel better when they are happy than when they are not. So predisposition or not, if there are things a person can do to increase those feelings of well being (whether they are taking drugs or going to therapy for depression), or simply practicing some techniques such as gratitude exercises, I would think people would want to try something to make themselves feel better.

By the way, I've never met this fictitious person that is "happy all the time." I think that's baloney.


Being interesting is overrated-one of my favorite sayings is the Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times". Been there done that and would much rather have the remainder of my life be filled with happiness and harmony-unfortunately, I only envision interesting times for the foreseeable future.

karen bojar

I’ve long been convinced that there’s a link between happiness and political engagement and recent research supports this.

Like my friend Jocelyn Morris, one of my reasons for retiring was to have more time for feminist activism. As the baby boom generation retires, my hope is there will be more and more women like the incredibly talented and amazingly energetic Jocelyn Morris: Read about Jocelyn's retirement at www.the-next-stage.com

Bublitz Binkley

I was amaze by your title above. Who wants to be unhappy? Everybody is finding happiness. But when I read the whole post, I found it very interesting. Somehow, it made my day. Thank you for sharing it.

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