Saturday, March 04, 2006

Writers Should Be Happy

I've written about happiness before, I know, but this subject is of interest to me.
Perhaps it's the fact that one of my closest family members is the eternal pessimist, while I'm the eternal optimist. I don't know.

Regardless, I was more than happy to see this article about The Keys to Happiness in Live Science, only I was amazed of two things: First, the article explores why most people don't use these 'keys to happiness' and second, that we writers know what happiness is, that we are happy.

Here are a few tidbits:
As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

One route to more happiness is called "flow," an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know the feeling. It comes less from what you're doing than from how you do it.

The keys:
Make lists of things for which you're grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life's small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family.
My biggest obstacle:
Lethargy holds many people back from doing the things that lead to happiness.

Incidentally, Slate's Meaning of Life TV had an interview with Joseph Goldstein on the problem of pleasure where Goldstein explains how pleasure doesn't necessarily translates into happiness. Very very interesting.

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Trée said...

Anything Goldstein writes is worth reading. IMHO. :-D

Jack Slyde said...

I think everybody should have some sort of creative pursuit. The benefits are obvious to me.

Jonathan M. Dobson said...

A. A. Milne had this to say about happiness:

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

Writing can be like this.

Then good old Albert Schweitzer:

Happiness? That's nothing more than health and a poor memory.

When I'm tired I tend to agree with this. When I'm ambitious I contest it.

Then, of course, there is that persistent Author Unknown:

Happiness is the feeling you're feeling when you want to keep feeling it.


Melly said...

Oh, Trée, the first time I heard him talk I was so impressed. He is truely worth reading/listening to.

Jack, isn't that the truth?
Some sort of focus on something is a good thing. That family member I mentioned, the pessimist, does absolutely nothing. No hobbies, no interests. Except for General Hospital...

Jonathan :)
You should read the Tao of Poo (I think). You probably have already. It's wonderful.

Jonathan M. Dobson said...

I'll check it out - thanks Melly.

Jack Slyde said...

The Tao of Poo is excellent.

Anonymous said...

I find that lethargy is the root of my unhappiness. I am always happy when I am accomplishing things and writing. Unfortunately, I often fall into slumps where I don't feel like doing anything.

Nienke said...

Writers SHOULD be happy, but are they? I've read that a lot of writers (especially famous ones of days gone by) had alcohol and substance abuse problems. Or, perhaps that's why they thought they were happy?
The article claims writing is a creative outlet, and I agree. But, it is also a source of constant frustration on being good enough, accomplishing enough, etc. IMHO.
Thx for the links.

gblagg said...

I have to side with Mr. Lincoln on this one. Happiness comes from the inside. It's a force of will. This is why some folk can be happier with alot less than others, under alot worse circumstances.
I think thankfulness is a key. And an understanding of self.
BTW thanks for stopping by my blog, your civility is greatly appreciated.
Now if we can just take care of that whole socialism issue. ;)

rdl said...

Lots of good stuff here, thanks.

Melly said...

Jonathan, Jack also recommends :)

Fred, it's exactly my problem as well. With writing, swimming, and a bunch of other things. Even chores - not fun and yet once they're done, I do feel better. But to get them done - that's a different story.

Nienke, excellent point. I wonder what's worse - the unhappiness that comes from not writing, or that from the fear of being "a failure."

Gblagg, I'm happy to see you here :)
Yes, I think happiness comes a lot from within. A state of mind almost, if you will.
A toast to better relationship :)

rdl - you're welcome :)