“It was the day before Christmas and all through the House and Senate. . . . “
Well, I liked the beginning and the rest of my version was pretty good — especially a section about ‘Grinches’ — but pretty good doesn’t cut it. So into the waste basket it went.
The fact is, I promised myself that I would try hard to get through this particular season without letting myself become gloomy or jaundiced. It’s been a struggle. Personally, of course, but also because of what is happening — and isn’t happening — in Washington, not to mention the floods, fires and loutish behavior toward women.
Anyhow, I ditched the downer and retreated to my formidable files for inspiration. And what to my wandering eyes did appear but a wonderful book review, “Psychology of Happiness,” by Dr. Michael Argyle. Just what I needed. And perhaps you as well.
So what can we learn from the professor? Well, he believes that happiness has three components: first, positive emotions, like joy; second, the absence of negative emotions, like anxiety; and finally, the non-emotional component, which means a general, more profound satisfaction with life as a whole.
According to Dr, Argyle, the biggest single source of happiness is a happy marriage. Unfortunately, the biggest source of misery is an unhappy one. This is especially true when a woman marries below her class. (I’m reminded of Nancy Astor’s comment: “I married beneath me — all women do.”) But what most of us married folks discover, whether we are in a happy or unhappy union is that no human relationship is more complicated than marriage.
“There are other essentials for a happy life. Job satisfaction — a feeling that you are doing a useful job and that you are achieving, or stand a chance of achieving your ambitions.”
In the end, Dr. Argyle says, the most important ingredient of happiness is temperament. Happy people are more assertive, they smile so they get smiled at, they expect to get along well with people, and they believe that everyone likes them. Unhappy people have low self-esteem, blame themselves when things go wrong, and believe they are unliked and unloved.
Interestingly, Dr. Argyle believes that both exaggerate. The happy people are less popular than they believe just as the unhappy are less unpopular.
But there is much to be said, according to Dr. Argyle, in facing the world positively and in pursuing activities which provide pleasure, satisfaction and fun. He advocates involvement in Serious Leisure — a recreation that involves your whole being, interest and passion.
As for me, I will be happier in this coming year if I witness elected leaders in Arizona and Washington encouraging citizens to prioritize character, compassion and civility. This past year was a low water mark in each of these critical subjects, especially regarding children and the financial support of their education here in Arizona.
So, to conclude this small piece, I hope you have a very merry day tomorrow, but of more importance is to have a happy and blessed New Year. I wish you well!