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I think this is my 4th happiness report, and I was wondering something to myself. Have I learned anything about happiness, or “the good life” as I prefer to call it, by simply thinking and writing about it? My scores, as you will see, are fairly constant. Am I being too generous with myself when it comes to scoring?
Well, I don’t know if I’ve had any major breakthroughs, but I do have 2 realizations.
Realization 1: Thinking about happiness promotes intentional living. In other words, I think I’ve helped myself by thinking and writing about happiness, by setting aside time to ponder the good life. For example, I’ve been more intentional about hobbies and health as a direct result of identifying them as important categories.
Realization 2: The good life is more about maintenance than radical change. I don’t think I was expecting the consistency in my happiness scores, but I also can’t imagine the alternative. The alternative would be extreme happiness one month and depression the next. That doesn’t sound like me. So, I might be a bit generous with myself, but who cares? Would I be happier if I graded myself more strictly and became a manic-depressive?
That last point also tells me something about what to expect from life. I think there’s a human tendency to think that if one could just do something radically different, one would be happier. Maybe that’s true, but I doubt it. Well, I doubt it as a 41 year old with a happiness score of 4.63 out of 5. If I were scoring 1s or 2s, radical change would be called for. But to me, being close to 5 means I’m living the life I want to live and I wouldn’t change much.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Whoa, 4.88! Well, mid-April to mid-May was pretty unique. We took a family vacation to Spain for 2 weeks, and my mom and your mom visited for a week, so the Freedom and Family scores were off the charts.
Should I really be scoring more than 5 in some categories? Sure. First, it’s my chart so I make the rules. Second, as I explained in my first happiness report, 5 is extremely happy, it’s optimal, it’s the life I most want to live, but it’s not perfection. Scoring 5.5 is like getting an A+ on a test and doing extra credit. So yes, if I spend 2 weeks in Spain I’m exceeding even my high standards for recreation and experiences, and I’m giving myself a 5.5.
Relationships: Our family trip to Spain was a special time and I’ll talk about this more in a future post. Another huge reason I’m giving myself a 5.5 for Family is because MY MOM AND YOUR MOM visited us for a week. Hey, parents can be quirky, but this was probably my best week with my mom in a decade. It was smooth and relaxing. I wanted her to have a great time and she did. The kids loved seeing her. Mrs. R and I even got to go out one night while mom babysat. She even got the kids to sleep, no easy task. Definitely a 5.5 is warranted.
One quick story about our parents [note to readers: Penny’s mom and my mom are sisters]. They make a funny traveling odd couple. They were adventurous, trying all the local food, but at every restaurant my mom would say, “Mmmmm, this is SOOOO GOOOOD!” while your mom would say, “Hmm, I didn’t really care for that one.” They did this with the same internal level of enjoyment, it seemed to me. Personalities are funny.
Growth: Work gets a bump this month, ironically, because the beauty of a good job is you still get paid even while you’re out of the office! As for hobbies, I read Seveneves, which I know you didn’t care for, but I thought was AWESOME, kind of like The Martian but on a much grander scale. I know you thought The Martian was just ok, but I LOVED that one too.
Freedom: SPAIN FOR 2 WEEKS. I’ll write a whole post on this, so for now let’s just say it was amazing in terms of experiences and recreation.
Health: Decent. Nothing new here. Would love to get physical health up to 5 one month.
A great 30 day stretch — I don’t see how I can beat this score for a while.