A while ago, I referenced some evidence that being sad is actually good for you, in that it increases your productivity. I also said that I personally liked being sad because I really felt like it made me think more clearly. This weekend’s New York Times Magazine has an article corroborating my anecdote: happy people are meaner than sad people. A nice tidbit:
There is one bit of the world that happy people do see in an irrationally rosy light: themselves. As the British psychologist Richard P. Bentall has observed, “There is consistent evidence that happy people overestimate their control over environmental events (often to the point of perceiving completely random events as subject to their will), give unrealistically positive evaluations of their own achievements, believe that others share their unrealistic opinions about themselves and show a general lack of evenhandedness when comparing themselves to others.”
Good stuff to know — I’m glad (happy, even :) that at least one of my theories finally has some evidence behind it!
The article also backs up another long-standing claim of mine, that religious people tend to be happier. You might be tempted to draw conclusions, in light of the above evidence, about what this says about religious people and their views towards themselves, others, and their perception of control over random events…
A more interesting conclusion is that being happy can be construed as a selfish act in itself. (The methods by which we attain happiness are usually less controversially selfish.) I need to think about this more — not that I’m going to stop trying to be happy, of course. I’m far too selfish to do that :).
Anyway, when I was young, I was a Boy Scout (I’m not a fan of its anti-secular and homophobic views; I just didn’t know any better). One of the perks was a subscription to this monthly magazine called Boy’s Life. The back page of each issue was filled with jokes, the most memorable of which were Tom Swifties — groan-inducing yet funny one-liners in which the way Tom says something relates to what exactly he’s saying. For instance,
“It’s where we store the hay,” Tom said loftily.
“We’ve taken over the government,” Tom cooed.
“My garden needs another layer of mulch,” Tom repeated.
“The girl’s been kidnapped,” said Tom mistakenly.
“What a charming doorway!” said Tom, entranced.
“I’m wearing my wedding ring,” said Tom with abandon.
“That little devil didn’t tell the truth,” Tom implied.
“Don’t let me drown in Paris!” pleaded Tom insanely.
I only mention this because after a recent conversation a new triply-referential Tom-ism popped into my head:
“I’ve a hunch: I look like Quasimodo,” Tom guessed archly.
Okay, maybe it’s not that funny. Then again, I wouldn’t want you to be too happy while reading this, anyway… you happiness-loving sicko you.