Happy Stupid Or Stupid Happy?

There’s a Vine in which a man asks a child “what’s 8+9” and the child says “21”. The man then responds by calling the kid stupid, which makes me find the video ultimately sad and a little offensive because I don’t think kids need to hear that they’re stupid.

However this “Twenty-one!” joke has been going around my school all year (so much the comment was banned) and was therefore stuck in my head when I watched a TEDtalk on happiness today.

In this TEDtalk, Shawn Achor uses a copious amount of humor to arrive at his ultimate thesis statement: if we spend our lives seeking accomplishments in an attempt to achieve happiness, we’ll fail. If, instead, we spend our lives seeking happiness, we’ll ultimately achieve more success too.

I’ve developed, over many years, what I love to consider an exceedingly sharp wit and biting cynicism that allows me to turn daily frustrations and injustices into hilarious and humorous rants about humankind, life, and the unfairness of it all. But the more I look inward, the more I’m beginning to see the flaw in all of that “humor”. Laughing and making snide comments in the face of unhappiness doesn’t remove the unhappiness. In fact, it seems only to make that seed of discontent blossom into a fully realized monster of rage against in inequity.

Why didn’t I get recognized?

Why don’t I have as many likes on Facebook?

Where are MY awards, recognitions, free passes, gorgeous dates, invites to parties, retweets from Amy Schumer???


Something in me deeply desires that validation and recognition from others. Any others. Could be strangers for all I care sometimes. As you can see, though, it turns me into kind of an annoying arsehole.

I don’t like this version of me. While it may be inherently human to want recognition in some way, this sort of obsessive desire for people to “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” is only going to lead me to always be chasing the carrot and never actually getting it. Because then, as the TEDtalk explains, you just want a bigger carrot.

And carrots never fill you up anyway.

So all of this boils down to what WILL lead to sustainable happiness. In the talk, Shawn Achor outlines 5 actions which lead to greater levels of sustained happiness. They are:

  • 3 Gratitudes
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Random Acts of Kindness

The important part, and thus my reference to that incessantly quoted—“21!”—vine, is these actions must be repeated for (you guessed it!) 21 days to fully sink in.

I’ve spent a long time developing perfect eye-rolls for such “personal growth” activities and convincing myself that it was definitely not Daria-cool to do such things—I should definitely just continue with my snide, cynical remarks.

Wait, I shouldn’t work on getting happier? On being more fully engaged in my own life and more satisfied with what I already have?

Wha—huh? Waiiiiiiiiiit…..

Ok, so I’m committing to it by blogging about it (must…control…eyes…beginning…to…roll…) but I think the public announcement will hold me accountable to actually DO this…and not give in to the deep, tempting desire to simply smirk, snark, and go back to the dark place.

So for the next 21 days, I will participate in all 5 of those activities every day. I’ll periodically update on here to say how it’s going and to inject more sunshine into all of your lives too.

The best part is when those 21 days are over, I’ll be heading to Jamaica for spring break. So what better incentive to get happy than to know it’ll end with an awesome vacation?

I can drink to that.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Annie K
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 18:02:14

    Another fabulous blog post, Kate!!! You have such a gift for capturing sentiments into words. And what a great idea to commit to doing those 5 “happiness” actions for 21 days. I can’t wait to hear more about how it went. You definitely seemed like you were in a good place when I saw you last Saturday night. Have a wonderful, well-deserved vacation!


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