Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Happy Are You?

I've just been doing some reading online about serotonin, because somebody I know has been diagnosed with a serotonin deficiency. I found a Web site article that gives a pretty simple, clear explanation of how this chemical works in our bodies. Here's an excerpt that I found particularly interesting:

A group of psychologists did an on-going survey about happiness. When asked to rate their overall level of happiness, on a scale from 1 to 10, most people indicated about 6.7 or so. Interestingly it was discovered that a divorce, or serious injury, even the loss of a limb, caused this level to go down a point or two, for a year or two. But then it usually came back to about 6.7.

Falling in love or winning the lottery caused the level of happiness to go up a point or two for a year or two, but then it went back to the previous level. What this implies is that a slight increase that could be sustained, was more significant than more dramatic life events. In other words if you find small things that make you feel good, and do them on a regular basis, your overall level of happiness is greater than if you fall in love, win the lottery.

I was shocked that most people rated their level of happiness at 6.7. That's a D+! Are people generally this unhappy? I'd rate my happiness level at about 9 or above. And I have terminal cancer! Am I just crazy?

Where would you put your level of happiness on a scale of 1 to 10?


Anonymous said...

I am tempted to ask, like all parents - when their children come back with 99% in the English test - what happened to the 1%? - so what is holding back the 1 on the scale.
Like you, I was a 9 a month ago - now, unlike the others, I have to shamefully say I am a 3 only because I have given 1 for each of my wonderful sons - whom I also ashamed to say I love more than my husband at this point.


Shin said...

Dear SK,

Why am I a 9 instead of a 10? Mostly, cancer. If I didn't have cancer, I'd be closer to 10 in happiness. But even then, I could find a few things that could make me still happier. But if my life were perfect, I'd have nothing to strive for so a perfect 10 is neither possible nor desired.

By the way, how did you go from being a 9 just one month ago to being a 3?

SK said...

Hi, I guess you did not receive my first comment - where it when I am not sure, this is my first attempt at blogs.
About a month a ago, my husband of 22 years gave me a shock of my life. He told me he just fell in love with a cancer victim. (they have been having an affair for the past two months)
I did not realise that he was unhappy in our marriage. We almost did everything together - even golf and golfing holidays!
He now asks for time to be with her. He thinks she only has acouple of years left.
I read your use of the cancer card - are they using it, you think?


Shin said...


That's a really hard situation. As a woman, my instinct is to say throw the bastard out. As a cancer patient, my instinct is to say let him help her find happiness.

But as a human being, I'm inclined to say I just don't know. There seems to be no right and wrong in this. I suppose if I were in your position, I'd try to find my love in my children and in myself the best I can.

Whenever I find myself in a situation I don't like and can't really control, I try to suck it up and behave in a way I can be proud of and my kids can be proud of later on. Behaving honorably might be the only consolation in some situations where there really is no good way out.

But dignity, honor, and pride don't necessarily boost points on the happiness scale.

Can you write to me at I'd like to ask you some questions that you might not want to discuss in this blog.

Francesca Giessmann said...

I am with you... a 9 !!! And I also occasionally experience moments of full absolute bliss that I am not an inch lower than a full 10. Like last month when my best friend and I headed to Miami for 4 days of full blown life celebration.. or when my son crawls into bed at 7 am and the 3 of us just cuddle and tickle each other .... those are true happy moments... but then I have some days that that 9 goes down a bit.. mostly also due to cancer.. the fears..the pain...the anxiety ... all that comes with it... but I am not surprised that people are at 6.7... I have met some pretty miserable people so they tip the scale way low ...maybe like in statistics.. they should take all bottom 10% and all top 10%.. who knows???
keep living on the 9 ... I guarantee is better than that D+
big kiss form super warm sunny Z├╝rich

secretdubai said...

I think happiness is a lot to do with luck and fortunate brain chemistry. I feel happy a lot of the time which is partly why I've never done drugs - why risk messing up the balance?

I feel lucky that I feel happy.

But I tend to notice people come in two kinds: those that feel lucky/blessed, and those that feel they're owed something out of life. There's no pattern I can spot: upbringing, background, age, gender, education, even wealth, to this split. It just seems to be there, so I don't know if it's perhaps as hard-wired in us as gender preference is.

Anonymous said...


My Christian upbringing does not permit me to dwell on my woman's instinct -
Perhaps I am in denial - I still pray for the both of them - with the Lord's help - I don't hate them.
I guess I am still in shock - I still love my husband very much and never imagined he would do this to me.

My fear and concern is that they will not be getting the Lord's blessings because they are not walking with and in Him.

I am hurting and very depressed but am pressing on, staying the course and will finish the race set before me because the Lord is on my side. After all, the battle belongs to the Lord!


Anonymous said...

I would say that pretty much I'm at an 8 - 9, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. But some days I can be low - like a 3 or 4- unexplained? I reckon it's hormones. Maybe on certain days hormones take over. (PMT/ PMS) It's also to do with what we want from ourselves. If I've had great day at the gym, my kids have been great, my husband has had a good day, yes it might even be as high as it gets (surely 10 can't be the threshold) but then this is just an average. I bet if you took serotonim levels for people who lacked day to day essentials, would these be the same levels? I think so. For example, I bet if you took an unhappy child in an orphanage, he or she would have the same serotonim levels that someone might do in a privileged background. I don't think serotonim levels have the same guage on happiness that you are talking about. I think that as humans we moderate them, but when they are lacking we feel it.

E x

Anonymous said...

I take my hat of to you all..........I reckon I must be a right miserable old lady these days! I AM happy, VERY HAPPY .......BUT would find it hard to guage a level to that happiness....I think its due to the fact that we are all dealt different cards as it were....I for one (though don't dwell on it where possible) seem to be one of the more "unlucky" ones.....for instance.....EVERONE has a simple fall during their lives but few fracture bones in their backs as a result! MANY are subjected to theft or accidently loose something but (fortunately) few would also loose one of their most treasured of their "lost" child.......the list is endless for us as a family....some call it "unlucky", others "bad karma" but to quote a coin of phrase we do often seem to "loose our winning lottery ticket"! I DO look on the happy times and feel blessed for all the good things that we have been given as a family but sometimes when the balance tilts a bit, it can be hard to do this and then my mood dips considerably and find myself VERY low for what some may think is no apparent reason. That said, I have since researched a bit myself and note that "depression" is listed as one of the symptoms of MS - I like to think my lows are not due to the MS however (it would be too easy to blame far too much on an illness just because you can!?!) I think that we just deal with things differently at different times in our lives? Perhaps illness and the "difficult times" make us stronger people, help us to "be happy"? I'm not sure but wish I could be more like you....I am not even half the woman you are! I know you don't like to be put up there on a pedestal but I am sure many would agree that cancer or no cancer, your outlook on life is exceptional and something we would all like to be able to say we share but probably can't?!

Anonymous said...

I reckon I am an 8. I thought for myself that this sounds pretty good actually - but compared to some of the others commenting on this blog, it puts my almost on the low side of the happiness scale. But I admit that I do have days where I feel low. It can be caused by an ache in the tummy, the company of miserable people, or just little things going wrong. I have developed coping strategies over time. 'The little manual of happiness' by Vikas Malkani is a great booklet that always helps to lift my spirit once I pick it up. Counting my blessings, meditation, laughter and seeking the company of people with a positive outlook, are the other effective remedies.