Happy & Healthy

Today was a pretty good day, even if it was pretty long. I don’t have an answer yet on the second iteration of the gratitude challenge, so I won’t be doing that today, but hopefully I’ll be starting that in the next couple days.

I’m trying to take good care of myself at the moment; right now, that means applying to a number of jobs, while also trying to eat a somewhat balance diet and keep up with some kind of exercise schedule. That feels a little more important right now, though I’m not entirely sure why. But it gives me something to do in my time while Calla is away, so it is a good way to spend my time, as well as being relatively good for me. Shocking, I know, but I do occasionally pay attention to my physical well-being.

I was able to do something nice for Calla today, too, which was pretty cool. I guess she wasn’t having the best of days; something seems to have tripped her panic attack reflex, and it sounds like her day went downhill from there. I ordered a stuffed animal for her – it was supposed to be a koala, because of something she had mentioned – and it got in today; I brought it over for her when I was going to a support group. It seems to have gotten to her at just the right time, and cheered her day up a bit. Making her even a little happier made me smile.

It’s a really cool feeling being able to make someone I care so much for feel better. I know that she is having a very rough time, and I don’t want to minimize that. I’m just not used to feeling this…happy? At being able to do something nice for someone I care so much about. This is all still very new to me, and yet also very enjoyable. I just wish I was able to see Calla more often. I’m also trying to remain cautious, because I don’t want to pressure her into anything, or future trip too far and get disappointed. This relationship means a lot to me, so I want to make sure it goes well.

My stomach is going nuts right now, and I feel really wired, so I will just finish this up and go see what I can do to work off some of this energy.


The How of Happy

I’ve been watching a lot of TED Talks lately. Yeah, yeah, so sue me. They show a lot of them in our groups. But this most recent one I got from SuperBetter, the game designed by Jane McGonigal that I mentioned several entries ago. It is all about the science of happiness. Yes, happiness can be scientific. Dan Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard, tells us why and how.

So happiness all comes down to choice. Not only does it come down to choice, but it also comes down to us being stuck, essentially, with the choice we make. When we are left in a situation where there is uncertainty in the choice, we tend to think about it so much that we make ourselves miserable. Here, I’ll use an example (sorry, this example assumes a male, because that’s what I am; I imagine it is easily reversible for women). Say a guy talks to a woman. While talking to her, he says that he has feelings for her, and asks if she would like to go out. Now, if she says yes, happiness will probably result. If she says no, there will be disappointment, but ultimately happiness will probably result. But if she gives him an answer and then gives him the option of changing her mind later, the guy will be miserable because he’ll constantly be wondering if his choice was the right one.

Not a perfect example, I’ll grant you. But it seems that happiness comes down to two things – choice and our ability to change that choice. There’s a well-known quote that I’d like to use here, from a man named Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Anyone familiar with AA and other 12-step programs will be familiar with this, the Serenity Prayer. This is a quote that leads to happiness. When you accept that you cannot change some things, no matter how horrible they might be – in DBT, we call this ‘radical acceptance’ – then you will, in the long run, be happier than if you try to obsess about changing something you just can’t change.

Happiness is possible to synthesize, it turns out. We just need to be shown how to do it. It won’t be easy, I imagine – there are things I know I can’t change that I still want to change anyway. But accepting some things won’t change – like accepting that I have depression, which will never go away – can help us to move on, and be happier with the things we can change. That acceptance is a key ingredient to happiness, it seems. So I’m going to try it out.