Friday, December 05, 2008

Happiness is contagious

Our company holiday party starts in a couple hours, and it’s something I’m actually looking forward to – I’m actually wearing a suit for this. The last few years I’ve been pretty reluctant to attend these functions, but I’m trying to get more comfortable with it, to break out of my shell a little. Even though I’ll always be an introvert at heart, I am a human being and therefore a social creature. It’s just that when you can’t talk about your private life, it makes socializing with outsiders a little uncomfortable.

My co-workers are actually a pretty good lot of people, and I had a great time bowling with them on Wednesday night. I surprised myself by how well I could still bowl. We split into two groups of six and I was the high scorer on my team both games, and the overall high score on the second game (my high score was 119, I think, which isn’t very high at all). I gave a lot of pointers to my teammates, which seemed to help most of them. Bowling is actually a very team-oriented game, because everyone feels good when someone throws a strike. The only issue is that it’s kind of loud to have any conversations.

There was an article in the New York Times about how happiness is contagious, even among strangers. Maybe that’s what the world need a lot more of right now to combat all the downer news is for some people to spread happiness around. I know that part of the feeling of compersion (or frubble, as some poly people call it) is just that - being able to feel happiness instead of jealousy and negativity from seeing your loved one made happy by someone else. From now on, I want to try and focus on being happy and making others around me happy as well. ‘Tis the season, after all.

"Strangers May Cheer You Up, Study Says" – Dec. 5, 2008

This idea ties in nicely with what I see as a subtle shift in my spending patterns in the last couple years. I think about the fact that my last major purchase was my new flat-screen TV, but before that it was last Thanksgiving, when I bought my video projector and screen. Altogether my home theater probably cost me about $6,000 over the last three years, not including what was lost in the fire of 2007 or what I spend on DVDs and cable TV fees every month. But I think, like the author of this article in the Wall Street Journal, that it was money well spent, because every Saturday night my family comes over and we watch movies or TV together, and that has been the bedrock of my social life for the past year.

"Deals Abound, But Which Offer Lasting Delight?" - Dec. 3, 2008

I think going forward, I am going to prioritize my spending on things that involve my friends and family, rather than things that exclude them, as one expert in the article suggests. I already do this to a certain extent with museum memberships, Broadway shows, basketball games, etc., but I'd like to do more, if my job situation gets a little more stable.