Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cheerleading, smile-ology, and smile-istics

The way I see it, you have your cheerleading, your smile-ology, and your smile-istics.  Cheerleaders, whether pretty young women or somebody else, try to raise spirits but that includes rousing a crowd to screams for blood or physical damage.  Smile-ologists carry a clipboard and observe outcomes and results of activities.  Your smile-isticians are your technologists and they try to engineer smiles.  Of course, I am using "smile" here to mean actual happiness and buoyant spirits.

You may have noticed over the last five years or so, a run of books on happiness.  Some people give the credit for the current wave of such books to Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the U. of Penn., who felt that science had over-emphasized investigation of depression and other unhappy emotional states.  Religion takes different stances on happiness at different times and places, from the position that our job is to obey God and let happiness fall as it may, to saying it is our job to be happy. There seem to be some people who feel that anyone (else) who shows signs of too much happiness or too steady a stream of it lacks intelligence or knowledge or sobriety or virtue.

Some people say that happiness is best achieved indirectly.  Help other people, eat your vegetables and brush your teeth.  Happiness with sneak up on you but not when you search for it directly.

As we age and have more difficulty hitting home runs or acquiring a 2nd yacht, we tend to look around to see what we can do that might be fun or valuable or both.  We do observe that an unexpected bouquet of bright flowers or a friendly text that we are thinking of someone can sometimes bring a deeper smile than another necktie or birthday card.  What produces a spurt of good feeling might not be what we expected. John Stuart Mill asserted that it is better to be a human being unsatisfied than a pig satisfied, although we have no record of his actually trying pighood.  

We do see that sometimes progress, steps toward a goal, produce more happiness than its  actual achievement.  Climbing and knowing that we are rising can be as good as being at the top.

Drugging ourselves with music, mantras or chemicals so that everything seems continuously peachy doesn't seem to be the answer either.  Your best smile-isticians don't flinch at letting a few scrapes and bruises happen because they really do emphasize the joy of attaining genuine love or achievement.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby