Friday, June 20, 2014
The wackiness of happiness
I'm sure academe has a theory to explain my experience. My basal-mood temperature is a degree above "depressed," my "pessimism" reading is higher than my cholesterol, and I'm deep into the double digits of "anxious." Yes, my emotional vital signs are poor to middling, but it doesn't take much to make my spirits soar—at least briefly. And it helps if a little something has recently gone wrong.
Take this morning. When I reached the library, I realized I had lost the small zippered bag that holds the ear buds and power cord for my iPhone. Immediate downtick in mood. After retracing my steps, I found it right where I had left it—next to the yoga ball at the gym. My sense of elation was out of all proportion to the event: my worldview changed from a slightly-below-baseline "Everything sucks" to "Am I not the luckiest woman alive?" I believe I may have uttered those precise words to the deskhuman as I left, holding the little yellow bag aloft in victory. (And I'm pretty sure she totally understood.) Simply remembering to pick it up when I got off the yoga ball in the first place would have been a non-event. But losing it and finding it was epic—even though it cost me time and concentration at the library.
On the other hand, a major loss, the death of my father, caused little change in my mood-o-meter. In fact, there might have been a tiny uptick in the "relief" department. After all, his final illness had triggered stress, guilt, pity and fear. And those feelings largely vanished when he did.
Perhaps the answer is to lose a little thing every day, just for the exultation of finding it.