Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't Worry Be Happy

I catch up on news and world events at the dentist office. That's where I read the latest issue of Time, US News, The New Yorker...you know, the stuff that's usually too boring or political to hold my interest at home where there are so many more important things to do than read about the moronic things elected officials do and say, or the gloom and doom mentality of the Fourt Estate.

Today I read an interesting article on 50 Ways to be Happier.

Most of the magazine issue was taken up with page long reports on how each of the 50 things they listed has some track record for improving a person's mental health and well-being.

Some of them made sense. For instance: Eat at home. Rather than go to a restuarant [more than likely fast food] you are more likely to eat a healthier meal if you cook at home. This will of course reduce the tendency to obesity that plagues Americans these days, thus making you happier. It has some merit, though a nice night out where I don't have to cook or clean up after anyone has always gone a long way toward making me jolly.

Another was Lose your shoes. Which makes sense when coupled with the platform heels in the picture that was included with the article. Bad shoes cause back problems which make people unhappy. I get that. I wear sneakers most of the time which keeps me rather jovial.

Most of the other options I took with a grain of salt, though. For instance: Coach your kid's sports team. Okay. I know several parents who do this and not one of them does it for personal happiness. Most of them do it because the alternative is to have someone else coach the team who doesn't know what they're doing. A good friend of mine got sucked in as assistant coach to her duaghter's basketball team because she was the only parent who actually hung around for the entire practice. Everyone else sees that hour as free babysitting.

How about get tested for diabetes? Now sure, taking care of your health does go a long way toward improving your mental as well as your physical disposition. I don't dispute that. But I can't say being tested for diabetes would actually make me happy. Of course, if the test came up negative I might feel relief and perhaps a short burst of adrenalin caused by knowing I'm not sick, but what if the test comes out positive? That's not the stuff of happiness, finding out you have a serious illness. While the opportunity to treat and control the disease before it becomes life threatening might make you feel a little like you dodged a bullet, I just don't think the first thing you'd feel would be happiness.

My favorite was the last one: Install crown molding. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Because of its aesthetic value, crown molding brightens up most rooms and gives them an elegant look. No argument there - crown molding is very nice. Would it make me happier if I had it all over my house? Sure, if someone did it for free and painted every room while they were at it. But crown molding in and of itself will not increase my happiness or anyone else's. I'm sorry. I just don't believe that.

So, once again, the high and mighty media found a way to completely screw up a decent concept. We all could use a few tips on how to be happier, but most of what was in this list didn't really qualify as sage advice.

I have a tip for being happier - shut off the evening news and read a romance novel. Trust me, you'll be a lot happier.

What about you? What's your tip for how to be happier in 2007?


Johnny Peregrine said...

LOL and mine for 2007.... get a divorce!

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Well, johnny, I can definitely see where that could make some people much happier. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Heather said...

Take a walk - without earphones. Disconnect from the world and all things electronic, and just breath in the fresh air and your surroundings. Bonus benefits: it relieves stress and gets the heart pumping.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

That's a great one, Heather! Thanks.

Jennifer Elbaum said...

OMG -- the crown molding did me in!

I'm going to try to whittle down my "should" list. Things I feel obligated to do, but dislike/hate.

For example, last year I only gave gifts in gift bags. It might not seem like much but sticking something in a gift bag is SO much easier for me that trying to wrap something. It made me happier (or at least seriously reduced my stress level at holiday time).

Robin L. Rotham said...

Hey, crown molding would do it for me! I've wanted crown molding forever. Will I get it? Probably not, which is why I resort to putting up borders.

The walk without earphones -- that's a fabulous suggestion. It really gives my creativity a chance to wake up and breathe.

Divorce would have just the opposite effect, so I'll let Johnny enjoy that one.

I'm going to take the kids on another water park vacation this summer -- we went to Wisconsin Dells last summer and I felt like a million bucks when we came back. Travel always rejuvenates me, and going on a few water slides that make me laugh and scream until I can't breathe really works off that nagging tension.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I totally agree with gift bags, Jennifer! Add a little colored tissue paper and you're golden, plus - bonus - the recipient can save the bag and re-use it!

Travel is a good one, Robin. Even a mini-vacation can do the trick. In the summer we spent one day at the Jersey shore with my SIL and her kids and we had a fabulous time. I was utterly relaxed when I came home. As for crown molding - having to install it MYSELF would not make me happy, Watching some very hunky carpenters install it, however would make me ecstatic.