Sunday, April 18, 2010

The cultural subtext on happiness

A blog post in Psychology Today bills itself as "10 Life-Enhancing Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less." The intro tells us: "Here are ten things you can do in ten minutes or less that will have a positive emotional effect on you and those you love."

3 of the 10 items tell you to do something with "your mate":

Spend a little while watching the sunset with your mate. . . .

Write a thank you note to your mate. . . .

Go to bed with the one you love ten minutes earlier than usual. . . . Let the feeling of warmth from your mate move through you.
Here's my tip for being happy: don't read blog posts that imply you need to be in a relationship to be happy.


LemmusLemmus said...

Speaking of culture. . .

In British English "mate" means buddy, so when I started reading the points you quote it was a bit befuddling. As in: How's it going to make me happy if I irritate my mate into thinking I'm gay?

Generally speaking, the list is incredibly daft:

"3. Sit quietly by yourself. It doesn't really matter where or when. Just let your feelings bubble up and then experience the thoughts flowing out of your mind."

Just the ticket if you're suffering from depression.

"5. Take out your oldest family photo album and look through it. The experience will fill you with fond memories and perhaps make you a bit wistful for days gone by."

Especially if you were sexually abused by your parents.

"7. Visualize or imagine a positive outcome for any issue. Medical doctors recommend visualization to patients with chronic and potentially fatal illnesses. If it can help them, it can do the same for you."

And psychologists have found that if the outcome depends on your behaviour, visualizing the outcome doesn't help much; it's better to make concrete plans about how to get there.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

"Ten Driveling Generic Platitudes that You Can Type on a Deadline in Ten Minutes or Less"

Russell said...

While I don't find the linked blog post to be very good, I don't know that a criticism on the basis of implicitly telling you that being in a relationship will make you happier is a particularly convincing one.

It's my understanding that being in a relationship, while not needed does turn out to positively correlate with subjective well-being (which I understand to be the science-word for people's self reported happiness).

Meade said...

Here's my tip for being happy: write a thank you note to someone every day. Never send any of the thank you notes to anyone.