November 6th, 2010

Tiger monkey

How does that funky brain work again?

One of the things I'm always looking for insight into is the science of making yourself happy. There really is more to it that just popping a copy of Xanadu into the CD player; or being pretty or being rich (these being things you can't change quickly, if at all, but since people tend to focus on these as being happiness causes I thought I'd throw them in).

Why do I work on this? Well, it does really seem like my life is full of unhappiness; I recognize, in fact, that this has been the case for me since I was a child. My moments of happiness have seemed fleeting. I blame a lot of this on living in a very insecure environment, where I had to constantly be on guard against attack; I was also being moved all of the time and had no concept of stability; I almost never had what I would call a "best friend." Isolated, unsafe, unstable: really, where was the basis for happiness built there? All I acquired was an ability to survive.

Then I read this article yesterday: the brain has a negative bias. Well. If it isn't enough that I don't have a foundation of security to draw upon, my brain is LOOKING for the bad all of the time. Now, that certainly has worked well for the career I've chosen, but it does give me a reputation of being a bit gloomy.

However, being of the somewhat scientific persuasion, I've tried to figure out how I can "fix" myself, how I can raise my happiness level. Exercise has been one thing that's been recommended and that I've found to have positive results. But now another one has come up from an article shadowdaddy linked to on Twitter: learning new things makes you happier, even if it stresses you out initially. So maybe I should sign up for the 75 quid "intro to scuba diving" course that's on Groupon today, and then there's that painting class in January - it seems a bit expensive but it's not even as much as the smallest 3 day vacation, and it's five days, and I'll have learned something I've wanted to learn for a long time ... hmmm.