the pursuit of happiness

While in the brief stint of living in the real world and taking a hiatus from blogging, I’ve really been trying to find ‘happiness’ with the spare time I’ve come to know without working until 2 AM for the newspaper. We’ve all read the tried-and-true quotes that can direct you to happiness, but they all leave something to be desired.

“more money more problems” is one that immediately came to my mind as my dwindling bank account reminds me of a lack of paying job and impending flight mid-June to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to study with Taring Padi and the rest of us from U of M School of Art and Design. Yes, paying for things is important, but will a coffee purchase really affect anything?

Usually yes. Which is why I basically disagree with Biggie. Though it does provide context for LiLo and Amanda Bynes’ freakish breakdowns and so many cokehead rockstars and dead 27-year-olds and the like, having just enough money eliminates your problems. And the noticeable lack of money definitely leads to significant worry and unhappiness.

This trail of thought led to a discussion with a friend of mine on a study he’d read about, I’ll colloquially call it ‘The Harvard Happiness Test’. A study done over 75 years analyzing every creepily in-depth detail of the lives of Harvard males tried to pinpoint (at least to the incredibly bias range of Harvard male undergrads) the key to happiness.

According to The Crimson, “apparently, IQ becomes unimportant above a certain level, older male liberals have more sex than their conservative counterparts, and those reporting the most satisfaction in relationships made an average of $141,000 or more a year.”

I also read The Atlantic’s take on the study and the most important factors about life satisfaction:

  1. alcoholism was the main cause of divorce, and with smoking, the greatest contributor to early death
  2. political ideology had no bearing
  3. the greatest correlation was between the warmth of your relationships and your health and happiness (subpoints: good relationships with mom led to a huge increase in salary, and bad ones were correlated with the onslaught of dementia)

I’ve thought a lot in the past about bad relationships, bad friendships, and people in our lives who simply do not add to our daily nourishment of healthy interaction. I focused on the bad, thrived on it even, and discussed the negative aspects of functioning with people I considered good friends. Isn’t that the epitome of gossip? The core of unimportant bickering? The reason why so many of us form collective opinions about other people, regardless of facts or lack thereof?

In my pursuit of happiness, I found there’s more to it than money, or optimism, or worrying, or having a fulfilling lifestyle, or eating healthy, or exercizing, or realizing that I’ll never be able to properly spell exercising without spellcheck.

The man who conducted the Harvard Happiness Test really sums it up best, so I’ll leave it to him:

The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’

Happy Tuesday, blogosphere.

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