My husband insists on putting the thermostat down as low as possible in the summer AND the winter. In the summer, he wants the rooms as chilly as possible and in the winter, he’s comfortable in a cool room. I’m the polar opposite of him. In the winter, I’m constantly freezing and want the heat up as high as possible. In the summer, I’m constantly freezing in air conditioning and don’t want cold air blowing on me. Apparently, my internal thermostat is quite different than his.
Our “happiness thermostat” also couldn’t be more opposite. My happiness thermostat is set on “happy” 97% of all the days of the year. When I dip from that set point, I bounce back fairly quick. I’m sorry to say that the same can’t be said about him. There are dramatic ups and downs from day to day and I don’t see anything close to my degree of happiness. He has a more subdued feeling that probably translates to “life is pretty good but I don’t want to say it’s great because something could happen to change that and then I would be VERY unhappy”.
According to a happiness theory, each one of you has a distinct set point of happiness. You hover back and forth around that set point but you basically stay in that specific range your whole life. In a society that is obsessed with finding happiness, it’s important to think about this bit of information I just shared. Looking back on your life, do you see the pattern of your happiness? Of course there’s ups and downs when you hit some trying times in your life, but basically, day to day, what is your happiness thermostat set on?
Why are there people that have very few material possessions, yet are able to find a way to be happy? How do they find happiness when the odds are stacked against them? Don’t they know how miserable they should be? On the other hand, I’ve seen women that look like they possess everything that they would ever desire in life and yet they’re still miserable. They’re terribly unhappy and they search for the “thing” that will bring them happiness.
Maybe part of the problem is how we view happiness. If you view happiness in life as a constant state of bliss, you may be getting closer to why you’re not “finding it”. Life isn’t all about one perfect, fabulous day after another. There are days that are trying, stressful and hard work but you can still be happy. Not that “crazy with excitement” happy, but an “I am satisfied and appreciate life and everyone in it” happy.
There is a need for us to permanently change our way of thinking about that five-letter word. Accept that there are going to be down times in your life when you’re sad. Sad doesn’t mean depressed. There’s a big difference between sad and depressed and our society often forgets that. Depressed is a serious condition while sad is an important universal feeling that all of us come to know now and then. Between you and me, I think we live in a society that’s terrified of being sad. We’ll do anything to feel “happy” again. Readjust your thinking on this and get comfortable with knowing you can feel sad in a situation and it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a part of life.
I hope you’re thinking about your own thermostat and how you can make some positive changes that will help you find a place of happiness. That ecstatic blissed out feeling happens now and then in your life, but that feeling of appreciation for being alive, that satisfaction with your family and friends— that’s the “happy” you need to come to expect in your life.