Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 3

*For explanation of  The Happiness Experiment" go HERE .*

This week I am going to be working on secrets #'s 5 & 6 from "The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People ".

Last week's secret's:
You don't have to win every time.
Your goals should be aligned with one another.

Secret #5
Choose your comparisons wisely.

"Many of our feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction have their roots in how we compare ourselves to others. When we compare ourselves to those who have more, we feel bad. When we compare ourselves to those who have less, we feel grateful. Even though the truth is we have exactly the same life either way, our feelings about our life can vary tremendously based on who we compare ourselves with. Compare yourself with those examples that are meaningful but that make you feel comfortable with who you are and what you have."

This secret goes very well with secret #3. At least how I talked about it last week. The example in the book talks about a man who grew up with 5 brothers. There was a nearly twenty-year difference in age between the oldest and the youngest. When the oldest compared himself to the youngest brothers he felt disappointment and jealousy at not having the same opportunities, but when he compared himself to other friends and people his age- people with similar opportunities-he sees that he actually has more in terms of satisfaction.

In all reality, comparing yourself doesn't do anything. It can either make you feel really good about yourself and your situation, or it can constantly bring you down. I think the best person to compare yourself to is you. If you use your past situations and opportunities as comparisons, it helps to make you better. At the same time though, always looking to the past can be bad too. The thought currently on my fridge says "Those who stare at the past, have their backs to the future." So to sum it up: learn from the past, then move on. And don't get caught up in comparisons.

"A large group of students was given a word puzzle to solve. Researchers compared the satisfaction of students who finished the puzzle quickly or more slowly. Students who finished the puzzle quickly and compared themselves with the very fastest students came away feeling dissatisfied with themselves. Students who finished the puzzle more slowly but compared themselves with the slowest students came away feeling quite satisfied with themselves and tended to ignore the presence of the quick-finishing students."

Secret #6
Cultivate friendships.

"Rekindle past relationships, and take advantage of opportunities at work or among your neighbors to expand your friendship base. People need to feel that they are a part of something bigger, that they care about others and are cared about by others in return."

Relationships are so important. Everyone needs friends. I am guilty of being a home-body. I am not incredibly social. I am trying to be better about scheduling lunches and "dates" with friends so that I have more relationships than with just my husband and kids. It is hard for me to be the one to initiate, but that is something that I have made a goal in my Social area of goals this year. I am going to be better about calling friends and family. With email and texting it is getting easier and easier to avoid conversation. I also want to write more letters. Actually hand-writing a letter and putting it in the mail actually takes thought and effort. I want to take that thought and effort and let my friends and family know that they are worth it. I am thankful for Facebook though. Because without it, I would have lost contact with so many people. But I can use it to get their address and send them a real letter.

I also need to extend beyond just the people I already know. Out of all my neighbors, I know three of the couples by name. I am not proud of that. Maybe this week I can make an effort to go over and introduce myself. Get to know them. We may have a lot more in common than I know.

"Close relationships, more than personal satisfaction or one's view of the world as a whole, are the most  meaningful factors in happiness. If you feel close to other people, your are four times as likely to feel good about yourself than if you do not feel close to anyone."

Choose your comparisons wisely.
Cultivate friendships.

Good ones for me to work on this week. Let me know how the experiment is going for you.


Sadie said...

These are excellent ones for me to work on. I'm horrible at always comparing... it's such a bad habit. And I"m such a homebody too. I rarely make the first effort for outings, and I"m horrible at visiting teaching too. But these are part of my own personal goals so hopefully I can make some progress on these this week.

Adam and Shari Crawford said...

I just got your comment, and wanted you to know that I have enjoyed the weekly highlights. I especially worked on #3 and being the one that always has to win. I am a competative person ( I know this shocks you ;). But over the past couple of years, I have noticed that I had been TOO serious about regular things (board games, video games, games in general ;). So #3 put it all into perspective for me. I loved it! I have really been trying to impliment each one into my life. Some are harder than others, but I have enjoyed looking at each part of my life through "happiness goggles" ;)