The experts have it backward.
I speak of the spate of articles, books and boob-tube psychologists who
are advising us on how to be happy during the recession. An article in U.S.
News & World Report offers 10 happiness tips.
Tip No. 1: Spend 20 bucks on an experience instead of a material thing.
Research shows that people feel better when they do things rather than
purchase things. This is because, says one expert, "experiences remind us of the
thrill of being alive."
That expert is on to something. Every day that the Obama administration
takes over more of our lives, I try to forget my worries by spending 20 bucks
experiencing the thrill of bourbon at the local pub.
The experts offer another groundbreaking tip: We must pursue meaningful
goals to be happy. One psychologist says doing things for wealth or fame
don't cut it. She says positive feelings come from personal growth.
I couldn't agree more. I see no point in trying to attain wealth when
insane government spending is going to cause massive tax hikes that will take
away much of the wealth that my hard work would have produced.
So, while I'm at the pub trying to forget about spending and taxes, I
focus on my personal growth. I talk to people and learn new things, such as
Irish jokes I haven't yet heard.
The article also advises us to live in the moment. If you're facing a
balloon mortgage payment you are unable to pay, says one expert, you should
approach the situation with an open and curious attitude.
You shouldn't make judgments on the dumb behavior that got you into your
That makes sense. If I was dumb enough to take on a mortgage I couldn't
afford dumb enough to take on a gimmicky loan that would reset to a much
higher amount a few years down the road I wouldn't see the point in
beating myself up over it.
I'd probably borrow 20 bucks from somebody so I could experience the
thrill of being alive at the nearest pub.
Here's an interesting tip: Keep an optimism journal.
The article advises that we write about our dreams and aspirations. My
optimism journal has really helped me. I dream of owning a giant machine that
prints money. I dream of spending money faster than it can be printed.
But then I know I'll never be president, and so I go to the pub to
experience personal growth and the thrill of being alive.
No article on happiness would be complete without this oldie but goodie:
Recognize your strengths. During difficult times, focus on finding your
inner mettle. Don't let your circumstances dictate your attitude.
Of course, that sounds like a bit of work. It would be a lot easier to
borrow 20 bucks and adjust your attitude one bourbon at a time.
The article offers other revealing tips on happiness. We're advised to
nurture meaningful relationships we should be open to sharing our
experiences with others. We need to have a sense of belonging and acceptance to be
(This is easier to achieve than you think. See multiple references to
"pub" and "bourbon" above.)
The article also advises us to count our blessings look for the silver
It tells us to be kind to others kindness makes us happier in the end.
It tells us to exercise always good for driving the blues away.
But what it doesn't tell us is this: Unhappiness is what we need.
Recessions have their upside. The unpleasantness forces us to think about
our dumb, risky decisions. It forces us to be more thoughtful and careful.
It paves the way for lasting happiness.
But nobody wants to hear that. It is easier to be duped by silver-tongued
politicians who promise, through massive spending and risky programs, to
make our unhappiness go away.And it is easier for me forget about such
worries by experiencing the thrill of being alive at the pub.