I’ll Never Be Happy

Week 6 of the Pessimist to Semi-Optimist Project

Thinking about my life overall, I think the last time I remember being very happy and burden free was in my childhood. Then starting around Grade 5 children started bullying me and things were not fun anymore.

In addition, as a first born Asian person there was a lot of pressure to be the perfect role model and every decision made was scrutinized by my family and friends. I always worry about making the wrong decision because this would bring trouble. I guess some people in my life feel like if you are already down, instead of being “soft” and “supportive”, they felt that pounding harder on you would make you stronger. Because the world is an even more horrible place, so by “toughening” me up, I would be better prepared to face life. Please note this makes a depressed person even more depressed…

Recently I met a grief counselor who told me to learn from my son who is very happy and doesn’t remember what happened yesterday or care about what will happen. Anyhow, my Viking husband pointed out that the reason why our toddler was so happy was because he had to work and worry about stuff. Blah, he is such a killjoy!

Brain-xercise Week 6: Rethinking Personality

In an article published on Scientific America’s blog, it lists certain personality traits which make people happy. A number of scientific studies proved that interventions can change personality, which can effect happiness and in turn can affect personality further.

Sounds fantastic! But…everyone’s personality is different, so the route to become happier is not the same. Generally, the researchers identified 5 personality traits everyone should work on to become happier:

1. Enthusiasm
2. Low Withdrawal
3. Industriousness
4. Compassion
5. Intellectual Curiosity

An article in Psychcentral discusses five steps to change a personality trait. Basically you identify what you have to change, visualize yourself with this trait and take steps to consciously implement this into daily life.

For me, the hardest one is enthusiasm. I think I`m pretty good at the other ones, given I accomplish goals, care about people deeply and enjoy learning. But I am a bit of a storm cloud compared to the Mr & Ms Happys at work. Yup, my pessimist self is emerging once again!

To try to implement enthusiasm over time I’m going to implement activities which bring me joy.

  1. Think about what activities make me happy
  2. Add a joy rating (1-10, 10 being most pleasurable)
  3. Add an ease rating (1-10, 10 being easiest to achieve)

Generally, I will pick 3 things to do every week that bring me joy (something already highly recommended in counselling for depression, but will add extra work of thinking about personality into it). Not everything can be done easily, such as going to the movies since I need a babysitter to take care of my kraken (aka baby). While planning activities out, I will imagine being enthusiastic and remain positive even if things don’t work out.


Semi-optimistic thoughts: If being happier means doing more things that already make you happy with the slight adjustment of planning and imagining a trait, perhaps there is hope for a pessimistic person after all!

Song I’m listening to this week – “Shiny Happy People,” R.E.M.

Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands, take it, take it
There’s no time to cry, happy, happy
Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

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