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Monday, November 14, 2005

Happiness Doesn’t Get Enough Attention

I found an interesting book at Seymour Public Library. It is called, Exuberance: The Passion for Life, by Kay Redfield Jamison. She is also the author of, An Unquiet Mind. The title caught my eye because it sounded so strong and, indeed, this author has a strong message. She commented on the lack of study of exuberance. She believes there is too much emphasis on pathologic mental states. Mood disorders are heavily researched in the field of psychology. What about the happy people? Why doesn’t optimism have equal importance? What would happen if we subtly shifted our awareness to the state of exuberance? As a society, what would that be like? I haven’t read the entire book yet, but it has inspired me to ask similar questions.

Is it possible we have not been taught how to be happy? Most people assume they know the difference. It sounds logical. We are careful not to be down for too long. We’ve been taught how to grieve. We know how to offer help to someone who has an addiction. Do you know someone who finds it uncomfortable to be happy or content? Is it so different and so scary that the person remains in a more familiar low mood.

We don’t learn everything in our early education. We are not taught how to save money and create budgets. Very few of us learn how to open up a business. Working on relationships is not a high school elective. Living life with an enthusiastic attitude is not taught either. We may learn from our parents’ examples. Does anyone remember the "Exuberance Lecture?" before the birds and the bees? We waste half a lifetime finding ourselves.

People are looking for answers anywhere they can. Alternative healing has become the new "buzzword." Who knew there was more than one way to heal? New churches are springing up everywhere and Oprah is franchising peace.

People are becoming interested in natural ways to restore balance to their lives. I have mentioned in the Wellness Resource Group that there is a great deal of misinformation regarding wellness. The news inundates us with bits and pieces but we’re still left with gaps. Don’t give up. Let’s not forget social wellness. Each of us has wisdom to share. Being open-minded is the first step to cultivating exuberance. The Wellness Resource Group meets the first Thursday of every month to discuss these things.

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