Are you happy?

What is happiness? It is a subjective emotion that Wikipedia has defined as “a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.” The other day, while shopping at Safeway with a friend, I asked him if we polled everyone in the store, how many would say they were happy? When I got home, I looked online to determine whether people, in general, are happy. Polls indicate that Americans are 49-81% happy (Who are they polling? That is a huge margin).

Happiness has been on my mind lately, because, well, I have been less happy than usual. Endorphins are our body’s happy pill; this neurotransmitter, when released by the pituitary, resembles the action of opiates. I am used to bountiful amounts of this natural wonder drug. Now, I am like an addict weaning off of cocaine, as my training has been reduced drastically and therefore my endorphin rush is occurring sporadically (FYI, hiking does not seem to produce the same amount of endorphins).

Heading back to the internet, I decided to find out whether there are objective measures of happiness. I approached this very scientifically. I Googled “happy quiz”.

Lo and behold hundreds of quizzes appeared on the screen. I hunkered down and took about 20 of them, for the sake of completeness (and because I had extra time due to less training).

I answered the questions on Oprah’s Satisfacation with Life Scale (I scored 29. I am very satisfied). I completed the Ladies’ Home Journal “How Happy Are You?” quiz (my happiness is profound). The iVillage Happiness Test determined I am free and happy. The “Happiness Self Test” on about.com showed that I am 81% happy (really, though, who knows all of their neighbors? That’s an unfair question!). I took a quiz that never gave me a score, what a waste of time.

According the Haunted Mansion quiz, “Which Happy Haunt are You?” I am a Hitchhiking Ghost. How cool is that?

I am still unsettled by the “Which Happy Bunny Phrase Are You?” results which gave me “You Suck and That’s Sad” which is not happy at all and does not fit my profile of “You are a very compassionate and sympathetic person. You use your divine sense of humor to cheer up a situation.” But, sarcasm is the point of Happy Bunny, and I can appreciate sarcasm. I have even been known to use sarcasm every now and again.

The general themes of these quizzes are health, hobbies, family, relationships, goal setting and work environment. Certainly, my health has not been ideal, but on all other fronts, even with the absent endorphins, there is still plenty to be happy about.

My family and friends are loving and supportive. My work at CU and my role as a coach are challenging and produce the ability to set goals outside the athletic arena. I have plenty of hobbies – writing this blog for example – that allow for creativity. I laugh on a regular basis.

Yes, all of the tools for happiness are right in front of me. It is just a matter of reshuffling and reevaluating where my attention is spent. Not all goals have to be lofty, sitting down with a good book is rewarding, and nurturing relationships is gratifying. And, if all else fails, I can watch a funny movie. Or, read a funny cartoon.

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