Welcome to the middle path

My photo
Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Resolution #24: Make A Joyful Noise

 Continuing on our increasing happiness theme...
I woke up today just a little off.  There were some reasons:  a good friend had come and gone from a visit; I'd had a packed weekend with friends, family and nurturance and now it was Monday and I'd overbooked my schedule for the week.  I was having trepidation over how I was going to juggle all the plates in motion for the week.

One of my (many gorgeous, brilliant and multifaceted) sisters recently wrote:
"My joie de vivre has had me accused of both being phony and erratic.(A colleague) even told me to stop putting crack in my cereal. ;) To the doubters- let me assure you, my happiness (to paraphrase Seinfield) is real, and it's spectacular."  When a reader inquired as to the secret of her perennial cheeriness, she said she thought it was innate-- that joy was her default. Though I also know she moves continuously toward joy and positive thinking, I think she is right.  Her temperament is naturally happy.  You can see it in her baby pictures-- sunny, smiling ear to ear.  I don't think I got the same set of genes.  In my childhood photos, I have sort of a perennially worried or distracted look. Even though I have a good love of fun, my genes seem to push me more toward introversion, introspection and sometimes melancholia.  I appear to need to be much more intentional to stay cheery.

Since about 1976, research supported the idea that we have a happiness set-point-- a baseline we return to after attempting to increase it with a big change or inflow of stuff/cash.  But newer research has challenged this idea.  The brain is much more pliable than once thought-- at every age.  And as pointed out in this week's blogs, we can move our set-point with community, gratitude, laughing, smiling, and feelings of personal agency.  
So how did I move mine today?
Singing!  I intentionally sang all the way to work, the happiest songs I could think of.  "When You Wish Upon a Star", yesterday's blog theme "You've Got a Friend In Me", and "Zip-a-dee Doo-dah".  And even without my rational support, I was in a good mood.  I sang between sessions, I sang all the way home, I sang making dinner.
Music can soothe the savage breast, and the cranky or melancholic one too.  Of course, music can change moods in many ways.  It can move us to tears, sad or other; it can raise tension.  There are whole industries based on using music to manipulate mood and behavior (think Muzak).  Even listening to sad music is helpful to mood overall-- it helps us identify and process emotional material, allowing it to move and shift.  But if you are wanting to lift your mood, put on something cheery and toe-tapping and be a curious observer to the results.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderful Resolution!
Singing sure does lift the spirit!
Maybe thats why we love singing loud in our cars!