While he’s a bit more intellectual in how he writes, I may have found a new mentor for happiness. Gretchen Rubin is still my go-to gal, but her brief interview with Jonah Lehrer struck a chord with me today.
What I really liked is that he reminded me that happiness is a personal endeavor that isn’t necessarily about feeling happy 24/7. It’s about something much deeper than that, and sometimes you’re not able to snap your fingers and immediately transform your mood.
So I guess I’ve learned that happiness is a richer, more complicated and ultimately more important subject that I used to assume. It’s not just about chasing after pleasure. It’s about finding ways to lead a meaningful life, even if that meaning sometimes involves moments of pain or challenge.
What I appreciate, though, is that Jonah (I just have to say it feels weird to mention him by first name only…) explains the natural swings of happiness. In fact, in one of his recent books (which you know I’m now going to add to my growing list of books to read), he mentions that “the surprising benefits of such moods, as numerous studies have shown that negative emotions can make people more attentive, persistent and vigilant.”
Thank goodness! At least something good may come out of this lull.
I’ve also found that distraction helps. In the interview Jonah mentioned that when he’s stumped or stressed, he walks. While that sometimes helps me (especially when it’s on a trail), I’m more of a cleaner. Give me a messy desk or an out of control closet to tackle, and my OCD takes over and nothing else enters my mind.
So while I used to assume that my walks were a form of procrastination, I now see them as part of my work day. They make me happy, which is an ideal mental state for moments of insight.