Today’s Blog is dedicated to good friends David Foster and Colin Duff. We have spent many a ride on a chairlift discussing philosophical topics such as life, death, fun and of course happiness. I’ve always preferred to discuss these sorts of matters rather than run through the footy or cricket results.
This question is one that I have thought about quite a bit since being in hospital. On the face of it someone with a life threatening condition such as leukemia probably has no reason to be happy – sleeping in a strange place, a strange bed. Strangers looking after you every day. Timeframes that probably are more akin to the 1940s than modern day and a bunch of pain and processes that you could never dream of.
But strangely enough there is room to be happy:
- I am alive
- I get to see my family most days (in fact for a week every day which is probably more than in one stint than the last 5 years!)
- I am very well cared for.
- I know I am loved by my family (and also by a huge range of friends)
- I love my wife and she loves me
- I have the very positive prospect of a full recovery.
What more could someone wish for? So on balance if you weighed up these facts and emotions it is easy to see that Happiness is possible in Hospital.
But let’s explore the theory behind Happiness.
Researcher and world renown Psychologist Martin Seligman has written extensively about this topic and believes happiness is a state that can be managed.
And delving deeper we can experience three kinds of happiness:
1) pleasure and gratification,
2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and
3) meaning and purpose.
Each kind of happiness is linked to positive emotion but in his mind there is a progression from the first type of happiness of pleasure/gratification to strengths/virtues and finally meaning/purpose.
Seligman and his researchers were surprised to find 6 particular virtues that were valued in almost every culture, valued in their own right (not just as a means to another end) and are attainable.
These 6 core virtues are:
- wisdom & knowledge
- love & humanity
- spirituality & transcendence
It is the pursuit of these virtues in a meaningful way that leads to our own happiness. Seligman points out that happiness is not found overnight. It is a lifelong commitment.
- The pleasant life: a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future.
- The good life: using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification (through activities we like doing) in the main realms of your life.
- The meaningful life: using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.
And in pursuing the stated virtues one can easily conclude that spirituality is key. And for those that are in any doubt although I have stated I am not a religious person I do believe I am spiritual and that in a funny kind of way spirituality has become my religion (sans a God!)
For me I can boil this information down to just 3 simple steps for Happiness:
- Something to Do
- Something to look forward to
- Someone to love
Oh I nearly forgot. How’s my health? No complaints today. Very few tablets to try and ingest as most drugs are now delivered by IV. No heavy meals to try and force down as the nutrition is now also being delivered by IV. No high temps last night, a reasonable amount of sleep over night and a pleasant day of R & R reading the paper with my lovely wife next to me. Silent bliss! Happiness you might say!