Thursday, September 10, 2009

You're As Happy Now as You'll Ever Be

The Intern wrote a fabulous post called Scientific Proof that Publishing a Book Won't Make You Happier.

She points out that many writers expect "rapture and eternal contentment" following a publishing contract. But then, when those writers get book deals, they "defer their rapture and eternal contentment to when their book sells 1,000,000 copies, or when they get interviewed about it on the Daily Show."

After experiencing much consternation over this, the Intern has finally found an explanation: the hedonic treadmill. In her words, this theory states that "human happiness can only fluctuate so much before an internal recalibration occurs, and one returns to how happy or anxious one always was."

I suppose some of you may find this news a bit depressing, but I found it totally LIBERATING!

It takes all the pressure off.

If PIGS sells, great! If not, it really doesn't matter! Sure, I'll experience a brief high when I get the call. I may scream and jump up and down and call all my friends. It might last days or perhaps even a few weeks. But in the end, I won't be any happier.

I'll still be worried about X and annoyed about Y. My kids will still make me laugh and they'll still drive me crazy.

What an effing relief!

Thanks, Intern!

24 comments:

Suzanne said...

I am in love with this post. And grounded. Now. THANKS!

Stephanie Faris said...

Well put! I'm gonna be a dork and paraphrase Miley Cyrus in saying there's always gonna be another mountain. So maybe what we need to do is stop thinking about reaching the top and just enjoy the climb.

Jessie Oliveros said...

That is great advice. And very good point about your kids still making you cry and still making you laugh. Life never really changes much, just us. And happiness should not be conditional!

Very cute kids by the way (last post).

Lazy Writer said...

Great post! It's a nice reminder to just enjoy where we are at all the time.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You're right! That does make sense, and ease that weird search for happiness.

MG Higgins said...

So true! I've seen this happen with my writing buddies who've been published. There are a few days of euphoria, then they're worried about the next problem (the edits) and the next (the cover) and the next (the website). It goes on and on. Great lesson here and thanks for the reminder.

Yat-Yee said...

So true! Now all we have to do is learn how to fool the calibrating mechanism into tuning us higher toward happiness.

Kidding aside, I agree it is very liberating, not to expect some outer events not within our control to affect our well being quite as much.

PJ Hoover said...

I loved this post, too. I agree on the relief!
I've been thinking about it for days. it makes me realize I need to learn to raise my overall level of happiness in life, not focus on the day to day occurrences to bolster it.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

So true. I've always said people create the amount of chaos they're comfortable with--and then they live in it.

The intern's theory is pretty much the same thing. If some chaos ends (a kid leaves for college), we find something else to fill the void (organizing an over-40 volleyball league).

But I'd like to believe I could be exuberantly happy for an extended period of time. I wonder if there's therapy for that...

Crystal said...

Thanks for this post, Corey! It's a great reminder to keep what's really important in perspective . . . and enjoy just being in the moment. :)

Lisa and Laura said...

I LOVED that post. Nothing like a little bit of perspective!

Writing makes me happy, getting published would be exciting too, but it's the writing that has changed my life.

Ladybird World Mother said...

HOORAY!!! Freedom! Thanks for that... :)

taralazar said...

Did you watch John Stossel's special report on happiness a few years ago? It basically came to the conclusion that we're born with an innate level of happiness. Yes, happiness is a genetic quality! Stossel himself admitted that he's not a happy person--even though he has what he thinks is his dream job. Some people are just happier than others, no matter the circumstances.

I have no doubt that certain accomplishments enrich our lives. I always imagined that when I became published, I'd be a different person. But I've come to realize that I'll be the same person, just with something added to my life's resume.

I'm a very happy person now and I'll still be very happy then...and still striving for THE NEXT book to be published! We're always looking ahead to the next thing.

Tess said...

A great reminder, thanks. I have always said it to be true, but sometimes I get my eye so focused on the goal, I forget.

storyqueen said...

I told a story to my third graders today about a stonecutter who keeps longing to be something he sees as better than himself, so he can be truly happy.

Even 8 year olds get the point!

Great post. Great reminder.

Shelley

Paul Michael Murphy said...

That makes perfect sense. But I'm not hoping to get published because I think it'll make me happier.

I'm hoping to get published because I could really use new shingles.

(And because I want to go into bookstores and place all of my books directly in front of Breaking Dawn.

Rebecca said...

Well said! We can have our goals, yet still be content as we are.

(but I really do hope your book sells)

myrna rosen said...

GREAT RESPONSES TO A GREAT POST!

Lis Garrett said...

LOL! I loved this post!

With the book I'm currently writing, I figure I will try my hardest to find an agent and get it published. If that doesn't work out, I'll publish it as an e-book and consider it the greatest book that was never discovered. :-)

I like writing for the sake of writing and because it makes me happy to tell a story. When people start assuming being published will make them happier/famous or solve their financial problems, they're most likely going to be unhappy in the end.

JennyMac said...

Very well stated and positive post!

herman said...

I thought you were nuts ... until I thought about it.
you're right. through triumphs and failures, my happiness has only ranged between 77% and 83%.
(except for the year on prozac, when it reaches 86.5%)
but, if I only had a porsche. nah!

Katie said...

Great post!!!!!! what a needed theory :-)

Thanks!

tiffany said...

most depressing thing i've ever heard! lol! and i fully disagree (to an extent). was that an oxymoron? ha!

Christy Raedeke said...

Wow. I needed to read this post today.

Nice perspective shift!