Is Happiness Even Possible?

Wednesday April 7, 2021

My blog last week was about chipping away at those small frustrations and irritations that stand in the way of our happiness. I likened this to the work of a sculptor, releasing a beautiful statue from the block of marble in which it is imprisoned. This week I am looking at whether there is a statue inside that marble block to be released in the first place.

Can we be happy? Is the state of “Happy” merely an unobtainable dream?

Some interesting research has been done with people who have won the lottery and those who have sustained life-changing injuries. The findings are that people who win the lottery are happy for a few months but then, over time, their happiness returns to the level it was before they won. Where people have their lives negatively impacted by injuries or illness, they report deep unhappiness to begin with but then, as they adjust to their new situation, their former levels of happiness return.

That is the research. Our own experience may be different, and we have all heard tales of “This or that happened, and he hasn’t been the same man since.” Statistical evidence, however, suggests that we all have a certain level of happiness which is our “norm” and that, while events may temporarily affect it, inevitably we will return to that norm.

So, what is your norm, and would you say it is fairly constant?

I like to think I am a happy person, with an optimistic outlook. It is the physical symptoms of depression that drag me down — the chemicals in my brain. I see this clearly when I suffer a migraine. The neurological aura before the pain and nausea hit has identical symptoms to those I experience in my depressive episodes. When the migraine or depression lifts, I return to “normality.”

A question was posed in a Facebook group of which I am a member: “What makes you happy?” There were many answers: “Being with my family,” “Playing with my grandchildren,” “Gardening,” “Walking in Nature,” “Crafting all day.” I smiled at the last – this is a crafting group after all.

I realised that, for me, it is being outside myself – whether because I am with friends, focussed on them; or writing – concentrating on the words and the story or concept behind those words; or – yes – crafting, as I am totally involved with the project I am creating. It is sometimes referred to as being “In the Zone.”

There are also those moments of pure joy when you are with a loved one and it seems that you are in touch with the universe because in that moment, the two of you are one.

If you do not have close loved ones or family; if you do not have intimate and trusted friends, or absorbing interests that take you outside yourself, can you be happy?

I don’t know. What do you think?

A Moodscope member.

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