Fair warning: this post contains mild spoilers for seasons one and two of Mad Men.
Earlier this summer Drew and I started watching a fantastic drama called Mad Men. We recently started the second season and while watching one of the episodes last night I turned to Drew and remarked how odd it was that all of the characters were so deeply unhappy.
He didn’t see it as unusual at all. In fact, he thinks it’s a pretty accurate representation of how most people feel about their lives.
At first I disagreed. While my immediate and extended family and I certainly have had our share of tough times over the years – from cancer to serious financial crises, mental illness to various forms of assault – my life is pretty happy overall and I have a fist full of pleasant memories for every sad one.
I do wonder how typical this is though. A significant percentage of the people I’ve known were abused in some way as children. Others have been disowned by their families due to falling in love with the “wrong” person or are in circumstances so dysfunctional that they cloud out the rest of their lives.
Not everyone I know fits these descriptions, of course, but enough do that it seems as though it’s just as common to be miserable as it is to be happy.
Are most of the people you know best are generally happy or unhappy? How would you extrapolate this answer to people in general? (That is, do you think you and your loved ones feel happier, less happy or about the same as the average person?)
Working as a psych nurse, I tend to think that almost everyone has some abuse, neglect, dysfunction in their past. I also think that people often find ways to recover from the pain and find their place of happiness in this world. Problem is, people often look for heppiness in their external situation. I think its usually found from within ourselves. I guess I believe in an internal locus of control. That we can use self determination to create a place if contentment. This, I recognize, is in direct opposition to some things Drew has talked about with free will.
And it’s ok – I disagree with Drew on this topic as well. 🙂
We are all emotional snowflakes. I think more people trend happy, but others are just pessimists. I’ve heard that lottery winners are thrilled immediately after winning, but then even out to whatever state they were in, despite being a lot richer. Not sure where the study is for this, but it makes sense to me.
Wow, I’d love to read that study if you can find it. I’ve heard that many people who win the lottery end up losing/spending it all in a very short time but I hadn’t heard anything about how happy they are.
The study was called “Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?” You can Google it.
I am content, simply content. I find myself to be happy when something unusually good happens, whether it be something good happening to me or even just witnessing something that fits the category of unusually good that changes someone else’s day for the better. But if my only two options to describe my everyday life were happy or unhappy, I would have to circle at least the “appy” of the happy side.
Glad to hear it!
I think I remember being happy once but can’t remember for sure.