Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Are you happiness levels fixed?

I think I am a moderately happy person. Not dalai lama happy, not depressed. I have my moments of sheer joy, and moments of doom and gloom.

But I think that no matter how my circumstances chance, no matter how wonderful my life may, and could be, I cannot change my base-level happiness.

I know this, as I am living my 'dream life'. I live abroad, in a fantastic cheery country, my children are a bit whiny, but otherwise hale and hearty. My husband is my best friend and I love him after all these years. I am finally being a stay at home mum, which is what I yearned to do when I was trying to juggle my job and young children.

Six months of this, and I could categorically say I am no happier than I was when I was stressed at work, not pleasing my husband, and snapping at the children.
You see, other stressed invade the place of the old ones. The new ones involve the illness of family members back at home, the guilt of dragging the children away from their home, the guilt of knowing we will be dragging the children God-knows-where in six months time, the guilt of not contributing money, the guilt of abandoning a hard fought for career. This list goes on.
Perhaps you could say the honeymoon period of the emigree is over. So the bliss of the new for the first six months is over. Perhaps it is biology that keeps our happiness levels at a fixed place, and you have no choice where that place may be.

It is said that happiness is a fleeting thing, not a background emotion. It is slippery to catch and hold onto for long periods.
I have one secret weapon though in the search for happiness. There is a pond near our house where we go 'frogging' most evenings. Hearing the squeal of my daughter as she picks up a particularly juicy big frog and the fruity Sid James laugh of my son as the frog indignantly plops back into the pond is like an injection of sheer happiness.


  1. Yes I agree with you. I think everyone has a level of happiness, or rather, contentedness which they function at. I don't think many people are happy all the time, it's definitely something which happens now and again. Sometimes when something bad happens and life changes you realise you were happy in before it and perhaps didn't appreciate it enough. If that makes sense!

  2. The frogging sounds like great fun (we go crab fishing for that kind of excitement with a bit of an edge to it lol). I am delighted to hear you are happy in your new place and that it worked well, but i do understand that other worries have replaced your old worries, sigh. Guess there is always something to worry about! Jen

  3. When I was about to get divorced many a year ago... I told an older friend that I 'just wasn't happy.' He snorted and said 'there's no such thing as happiness, the most you an hope for it contentment.' I wasn't content either.

    Now, I am happy. I feel contentment as well. I am healthy, my family is healthy, I have enough money to pay the bills and go on holiday I have space to 'do my thing', my children are growing up with good values and a positive approach to life, etc etc. All the boxes are ticked. I look at friends of mine who have similar boxes ticked and they;re not happy--or they dont seem to be, judging by all the complaining they do. I am not a super positive cheery all the time girl, but I just prefer to focus on the positives. Thats my 'secret to happiness'.

    You've got frogging. Thats an excellent place to find that happiness centre! I know how new worries can replace old worries. Can one still have worries and be happy? I think so. Take the frogging fun and bring it inside, metaphorically speaking!! x