7 Out Of 10
There was a study that came out a couple years ago that measured people’s happiness levels around the world. I learned this from Mark Manson’s website.
I’m just paraphrasing, but they basically measured the happiness level of people of all types and cultures, around the house, in different periods of life. And the funny thing, most people rated themselves as a 7 out of a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of overall happiness.
Doesn’t matter if their dog just died. Doesn’t matter if they just found their life partner. Doesn’t matter if they just got a promotion. Doesn’t matter if they got married. Doesn’t matter if they’re vacationing in the Bahamas right this instant.
Most people rate themselves as a 7 out of 10 on the happiness scale. It’s kind of interesting. Of course, during positive changes, your happiness level will go up a little bit. And during negative circumstances in life, your happiness level will drop. But, generally, after a period of time, that happiness will revert back to your “baseline” happiness.
So, you can interpret this finding however you want. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do I want to be happier than a 7 out of 10? Doesn’t that sound kind of not enough? Who knows?
It’s a testament to how resilient people are. In times of crisis. Even during these times, with the coronavirus raging on in the country. We are more resilient than we believe.
We usually tend to go on chasing more things in hopes of becoming happier and more “well off”. And once we attain whatever that “thing” is, we realize that maybe we’ll be happier for a little while. But after a while, our happiness level kind of just drops back to normalcy.
So, we think to ourselves, “okay, I need to keep on improving”. I need to get this house. Get this car. I need to move up in my job title. I need to get married. I need to be loved. I need this. And I need that.
And then, I will be happy. Then, I will be fulfilled. So, we carry on like a hamster on a wheel. Treading on and on and on. As if, we are chasing an important goal or a never-ending dream. But, at the end of the day, our happiness still remains on that same level. That same scale of 7 out of 10.
I’m personally okay with that. It’s kind of good news. Because, God forbid, if I were to ever encounter a terrible tragedy, maybe my level of despair or sadness will cause my happiness level to drop significantly in the here and now. But, generally, after awhile, it’s most likely that I will revert back to my normal “standard” of well-being.
Life can be a roller coaster sometimes. And it’s good to have that sense of stability to fall back on. I can attest to this sensation known as the “hedonic treadmill”. This sensation of how the chase for pleasure and happiness still leads us back to the same old place of happiness regardless.
When I was young, I would work hard towards getting into a good school. I would spend hours on end studying. And finally, I got into Cornell University. An Ivy League institution! My happiness level increased tremendously on the day I opened my acceptance letter. And I was eternally grateful of being accepted into such a reputable institution.
But, after awhile, my happiness level went back to normal. Everything just kind of fell back to its normal daily routine. Similarly, when I was struggling at Cornell, my happiness level dropped. And it similarly dropped when I started feeling anxious in social environments - developing a “why me” attitude. But, even during my bouts with social anxiety, I must admit that my overall happiness didn’t change that much.
It was still relatively sufficient. Same with chasing after more money, after a promotion, after a girlfriend. I realize that my happiness level throughout the course of my 36 years of existence, has been relatively stable - despite the achievements and challenges that I faced throughout these 36 years.
So, sometimes, we just need to practice acceptance of the here and now. That regardless of the happy and rough times that we go through life, that in the grand scheme of things, everything will be okay. We will be well off. We will rate ourselves as a 7 out of 10. And what’s wrong with that? It’s not bad at all.
We should practice acceptance. Gratitude. And constantly remind ourselves of the things that we already have in life. Rather than the things that we want or need to chase after. Chances are that we already have everything we can ever want in the here and now. It’s just up to us to open our eyes a little bit and be aware of this.
This way, we aren’t trapped into the chase for more and more for the sake of gratification or satisfaction. Sometimes, just take a step back. Breathe. And see the world in all its beauty and glory. In this present moment. Everything is fine and dandy.