I had never really given much thought to “de-valuing happiness” until I actually heard the term. I’m currently on week one of the ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment‘ course on the Coursera website (which I have used for a LOT of courses in the past) and one of my first tasks was to take a test which determined my happiness. It turns out, that my feelings, at this point, indicate that there is quite a bit of room for improvement in my happiness (I scored 20). I actually also carried out a happiness test on the website ‘The Pursuit of Happiness‘ and scored 29 out of 115, enough to warrant them giving me a list of people to call in the event of a suicide attempt. I felt that was slightly melodramatic. I don’t think I’m quite at that stage yet. I felt that the “room for improvement” result was more accurate for me.
I learned that every day we sacrifice happiness for something which in the grand scheme of things, is less important in life. For example, I’m a skinflint and a cheapskate so if I was in a salad bar and there were chick peas and grilled chicken, and you paid the same price for both, I would very obviously choose the chicken, even though I’m actually not a big chicken eater and much prefer chick peas. Therefore I am sacrificing my happiness in order to get what I feel is “value for money”.
In the same way, if I find out that I am right about something that I’ve been telling someone for ages who refuses to accept it, I would definitely keep reminding them that I was right, even though it will probably result in that person falling out with me. I am therefore sacrificing happiness for the sake of being right.
Both of these constitute as “de-valuing happiness” and I am guilty of both of these on a regular basis. My pride is an important thing for me. I need to realise that it’s not important at all. Not even slightly. It means nothing to anyone but me and changes nothing, not even for me. I need to bin off my pride in that sense. I also need to realise that whilst having money is nice, it is not the be-all and end-all and that being happy is much more important than having money. I am currently in a financially stable situation with my partner (we bought a Smeg kettle – refurbished from eBay for £20 because I’m a skinflint but still a status symbol for me, screaming “I HAVE MADE IT”) and whilst we still have debts apiece, I am not in a position where I can’t afford to eat. I therefore don’t really have much reason to be choosing the “value for money” options which I don’t even really like (it’s always gammon, egg and chips and I hate gammon) and I should just be choosing what I like, what would make me happy. In much the same way that my boyfriend always chooses the mixed grill when he knows I’m paying.
The course talks about seven happiness “sins” and ways to counter them in order to be more happy and fulfilled in your life. Week one is “de-valuing happiness”.
It’s dinnertime at work now on Wednesday 25th and I have been watching another course video. This one taught me the “antidote” to stop me de-valuing happiness. This antidote is to remind yourself to make happiness enhancing decisions on a daily basis, but not to monitor actual happiness levels. So I’ve set a daily reminder which will pop up on my phone to remind me to make happiness enhancing decisions.
As part of week one’s activities, I was also tasked with giving my own definition of happiness. Having watched the course video regarding how to define happiness, I would have to agree with Raj that my personal view on happiness is “abundance”. Which in essence, is feeling that life is perfect, even with its imperfections. To me, that is happiness and this will be my happiness goal.
To help life my moods I’ve also started doing small amounts of yoga again as it used to help me sleep. I’ve noticed an improvement in my sleep the last couple of nights although I’ve woken up with headaches because I can feel myself frowning in my sleep at night.