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Friday, October 15, 2010

Happiness Base*

You don't have to be happy to produce scholarly writing, and producing scholarly writing doesn't produce happiness either. I'm living proof of that. Feelings of dissatisfaction often come at times of professional success. I noticed some disturbing symptoms in myself recently so I made a list of things to work on immediately:

caffeine / alcohol
exercise
meditation
internet
socializing
diet

Regulating time spent on internet (randomly) and coffee use; having one beer or glass of wine with dinner (or none) instead of two; exercising daily and beginning short sessions of meditation; making sure I meet with friends more often and eat better food. All of these things are mostly within my control. I have that list on a piece of paper at my desk to remind myself.

These factors alone won't make me happy, but they might bolster the happiness base, which in turn contributes to the management of everyday life and the scholarly base. Severe unhappiness can make me unable to work or to enjoy the fruits of my work.

***

*The concept of the happiness base is from the poet Kenneth Koch, who attributes it to a friend of his whose name escapes me at the moment.

1 comment:

Bob Basil said...

At my son's graduation from SUNY Geneseo a couple of years ago, Senator Chuck Schumer came by to give a short speech. It was a great speech, one I repeat to all my students, who are at the start of new careers.

He told the students that, for the rest of their lives, they would still have to take two tests every week: The Monday Test, and the Friday Test. (The grads GROANED!)

How do you feel on Monday, as you get ready to start your work week? Do you have acid stomach, a headache, anxiety? If you do, you have failed the Monday test, and then you need to consider making changes to your work life.

How do you feel on Friday, as you get ready to go home and see your family, neighbors, cat? If you are thinking about other places to go to before you go home, then have failed the Friday test, and you might need to consider making changes at home.