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?