Improving the Happiness Quotient

I loved reading a quirky, wonderful, unique story: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick. It's not every day you read an epistolary novel in which the correspondence carried on is a one-sided outpouring to Richard Gere.

The mother of our letter writer, a devout Catholic, has a somewhat karmic approach to dealing with life's blows and setbacks. She tells her son Bartholomew that for every unhappy there is a happy -- and vice versa.

If you're experiencing something bad, someone somewhere -- not necessarily you -- is experiencing something wonderful. Bartholomew's mother takes solace in the idea that some good is balancing the scales somewhere.

Conversely, if you're happy than somewhere, someone is suffering, or at the least having a bad day.

Earlier this year I successfully completed 30 Days of Biking, to which I added a word/picture of the day challenge to myself. As I wrapped up the series I chose "happy" as my word of the day. I sincerely hope this didn't mean someone else was having a bad day.

I've long held the belief that I should contribute to the net positive balance of energy in the universe by doing good things. If the balance is actually 50/50 as Bartholomew's mother believed, it's important for me to notice and cherish every scrap of happiness because someone is paying for it.

Even though I don't really think you're paying for my happy day, it's still worth paying attention to and appreciating.

The research into people's behavior with respect to their shopping and service experiences says that we share negative experiences much more often than we do positive ones. While I definitely think there's a place for feedback that helps others improve (ask me about my luggage lost en route to Washington, DC, and meetings with members of Congress), we too seldom take a moment to thank someone for a job well done or a really positive experience. We take that for granted and focus on the screw-ups.

What if we made a point of paying attention to our happiness, to good experiences, and sharing those and only those for a day or a week? We'd be adding to the net happiness in the world.

Let's change the equation.

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