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Monday, February 11, 2013

For the Love of It

Today, on my day off from the day-job, I chose to hang around the house in my comfies and do whatever I darn-well wanted. One of the things I ended up doing on a whim was watching a documentary called Happy. I'm kind of glad I did! It presented some thoughts that were new to me and also affirmed some of my own theories on what makes people happier or more content.

Now, writers and other creative types, I want you to pay attention to this part. A large fraction of a person's overall happiness (according to the research presented in the documentary) is doing something you're good at and that you enjoy, simply for the love of it. Writers, if you do that thing you love (writing), but you attach the stress of having to do it (paycheck) or the pressure of it needing to please another person (reviews), it drains all the happiness out of it. Think on that...

Getting out in nature is one more thing that consistently makes people happier.


taken at River Legacy


Also, another thing that happier people do is bounce back from bad situations. I'll give an example that isn't author-related. Take the morning from hell, for example. You stub your toe upon awakening, get into a fender-bender on the way to work, and then find yourself in trouble for some flub you did yesterday. Many of us tend to dwell on these sort of bad things. We text five friends about our toe injury. We call eighty different people and tell them how mad we are about the fender-bender. We worry all night long that we're going to get fired for our mistakes. That sort of dwelling actually keeps you in a depressed state, whereas happy people shrug it off once it's done and gone. Sure, your toe got hurt. You might have even shouted a curse word. Yeah, you got into a car wreck. Yes, you're human and you messed up at work. But then you moved on. Interesting concept, huh?

Happy also said that spending time with friends and loved ones and doing things to help other people can actually increase dopamine in our brains. For some, it's as strong an effect as taking a physical drug. We're truly social creatures. We need our friends! Even strangers can be of great joy and comfort to us. You hear that, authors? Sometimes you need to step away from the manuscript and socialize. (I'm talking to myself here, too.)


In New Orleans with a friendly stranger



So, in closing, get your mind off of the money you think you should be making with that novel you're working on. When you write a chapter of that book, have fun with it! Don't worry about what people are going to think, and don't stress about the money it may or may not make. And then, after you've spent a couple of hours writing, go hang out with a good friend. Have a good time just because. Studies show, you'll be happier if you do!


A couple of Halloweens ago

6 comments:

  1. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you hon! Tis one of the reasons that I try to put a smile on someone's face every day ... not just to make THEM happy (a bonus) but to put a smile on my face too! Whenever I am feeling down or blue, nothing makes me feel better than to do something to help someone out who is having a worse time of it than I am. Good for the soul!

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    1. I kinda had a feeling you were someone who already practiced the art of being happy! It is good for the soul. I notice a big change in my mood when I do these things.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, it was something that I needed to hear (or read). I have been stressing and putting too much pressure on myself regarding so many different things, and all I really need to do is be happy. Now that the weather is getting better, I can enjoy the sunshine and even go for a walk. Thank you again for your wonderful post today :)

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    1. I'm glad the post helped you out! We all get in that trap of stress, even if we know we shouldn't. It's never too late to take a step back and go at it from another point of view. Walks are great!

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  3. I totally agree. I have a little phrase I always tell myself that I thought up a long time ago. It goes like this: writers should write to please others, but if they're also no writing to please themselves, they might as well not be writing at all. It's the quickest way to express how I feel about writing. It is for enjoyment. Making money writing comes second, and ALWAYS second, to the enjoyment of writing. If you're a terrible writer and people tell you you suck at writing but you love to do it, don't stop. You could get better, or you could be good already. Writing is like art - only words instead of colours and shapes - and, like art, it's all in the eye of the beholder. Awesome, awesome, awesome post. Quite possible your best one yet. I wish there was a way for me to re-blog this on my own blog because I feel like EVERYONE should read this. So, thanks for summing up a lot of what I feel and think, and thanks for continuing to share your thoughts, ideas and plain common sense with us. We love it. :)

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    1. Indeed, writing is art. And art is very subjective! You are most welcome to share this post, or a link to it, on your blog if you want. :)

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