One of my favorite guys to read and listen to is Mark Manson. If you’re not scared of a pile of curse words than you should check out his incredible new book and his free podcasts on iTunes. It’s great stuff and I think he has made me a better and more relaxed person in just the last month. I want to emphasize here, I’m talking lifelong, change my world types of lessons and I have only recently found his stuff.
I can only hope that sometimes, my site does this for some of my followers, I think its an essential part of life, to share some knowledge and insight that changes someone else. I know I try to do this all the time in my clinic, I want to do it here on my Be Awesome 365 page as well.
So, I’ll preface this article with this disclaimer. My wife as I told her my story idea for today states, “So basically, you’re just going to cough out one of Mark’s posts and call it your own….”
Possibly. He does cover this stuff in his own way. Outright plagerism, I don’t think so, but I definitely wouldn’t turn it in for a graded college journalism article I can tell you that. I have altered it enough to command a repost or redo in my own style. If it helps me and it helps you, well then, I want it up on my page, so here it goes.
In one of Mark’s podcasts he talks about an old psych study where a bunch of people were asked to “Rate their happiness” on a scale of 1 to 10.
Easy enough right. They asked everyone. Teachers, homeless, millionaires, vets, computer nerds, bullys, moms, soldiers on and on…you get it.
He goes on to explain it so much smarter and with way LESS nonsense than anyone I’ve heard. To summarize the findings… Everyone is basically a 7. You could have won the lottery 2 years ago, you’re a 7. Student with a term paper coming up in a week, around a 7, dad with 4 kids and a mortgage…7.
We will all have our ups and downs throughout the chaos of life obviously. Family Tragedy? Yeah, that’s a 1. Just fell in love? a 10+. Ski Trip with your buddies but got off the wrong turn and are looking at a black diamond? Probably a mix between a 4 (scared as hell) and exhilarated 10. Let’s call it a 7.
It’s an ever fluctuating scale of life that we all can relate to. But on average and as we return to our baseline, our “happiness scale” is typically hovering at right around a 7. No matter our surroundings.
So? Well, I was interested. It immediately explained a lot to me and hit a nerve and made sense at a level I can really dig into. Instantly I felt like “no wonder.” I see the human problem now. The problem is that we all feel like we’re supposed to feel at a 10. All the time. We deserve it somehow. TV commercials demand it with an every increasingly assault on our belief that life has MORE in store for us. We’re not reaching our potential. That life can be and should always be better than it is. Add Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to it – where every single post pretty much has to be better and bolder and happier than the one before it and the need to “one-up” the next guy and you see the problem. “Everyone needs to see me at a 10 because that’s where we are supposed to be.”
All of a sudden 7 isn’t good enough for us. I mean, 7 is swell and everything. I’m much better than just content, actually feel pretty good and totally satisfied. I’m not complaining as there’s just nothing to complain about but I wonder if I had this drink, or this diamond or this house or this car, could I be a 10? If I took a picture of it and sent it to my friends to see would that make me look like a 10?
Ten is terrific man, insanely amazing – I’m talking like movie star award winning 10, Just won the state wrestling championships 10, KISS rocking a stadium concert 10. All the time. Is it really that simple and just out of reach?
This all made perfect sense as I listened to one of Mark’s voice over guys read this article into my stereo. An enlightenment. I’m that guy. I’m the guy that thought life always had a number 10 for me just around the corner. My friend Luke would ask, “What’s up with you today man? You seem stressed out or down.” when I wasn’t on my 3rd Red Bull of the day. My workouts had to be knock down ass kicking lie on the floor intense, every single day. Adrenaline had to circulate though my veins all the time or I felt cheated. The realization of the 7 as a norm, and not a 10, just chilled me the hell out. (and gave me a temporary 9)
As you can tell, this whole idea piqued my interest.
I began to look this stuff up. I mean it all made sense but c’mon. One little study years ago, broken down by a funny guy that curses like a bro I went to college with, hot my life like an EPIC discovery, it couldn’t be that on-point could it?
So, I looked it up. You know what I found? There is a 1-10 happiness scale for damn near everything. This isn’t some study out of Berkeley from the 70’s that caught on. It’s used for EVERYTHING. Its ridiculous. Advertisers LOVE this scale. Private schools, city planners, travel agents…they all use the scale.
Mistakenly use it in my opinion.
This crazy “happiness scale” is used to grade your happiness with what country you live in (Malyasians top the chart at 7.82), income levels, cars, houses, neighborhoods in individual cities, clothes, trends, what activity you’re doing, Your happiness, graded? With something as simple as “pick a number?”
I poured through this stuff and guess what. It’s always 7’s. Malaysia is a 7.82, US is a 7.0, Canada a 7.6. Aussies a 7.5. There are outliers like Syrians whom right now yeah, they’re not so good. But seriously, I question the legitimacy of a happiness study being done is Syria as the bombs are falling. It’s made up data pouring crap.
Here’s my take on these “findings.”
I know that the data is trying to say that The Canadiens are happier than us but c’mon man. We’re the same. It’s really that close. Now when looking this stuff up the computer nerds will show you that a 7.8 vs. a 7.2 is a big deal. They can quantify this but step back for a second. This is happiness. It’s not a real number. It’s a grading scale and for all purposes a 7.0 a 7.3 and a 7.8 is the SAME DAMN THING!!
The people that use these as a legitimate selling point are leading you to taking the wrong point away from the study. Te ones using this are abusing the numbers and are a BIG part of the problem.
They even have the wrong idea with what to do with the findings in the first place.
This data abuse is suggesting that a certain car or perfume makes you happier than this one and justifies the extra effort into advertising the hell out of this car as it’s proof that you’ll be happier. Or data might tell you to pick up and move to Texas, they are happy as hell down here. (and we’ll tell you!)
Look, we all control the majority of our extent of our own happiness, this info and data is suggesting that it’s not. It suggests that acting differently or buying this stuff changes you fundamentally and its lying to US.
You’re always in a state of flux and will return to the norm in time. It honeslty doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you have or what your job is – that we’ll always return to our norm.
What it suggests is a change in reference point.
If you feel like crap because your boyfriend just dumped you a day before the big dance, that sucks, but it will get better. If you just hit the lotto and are feeling like you’re walking on clouds because you’re buying Rolexes and Ferrari’s, enjoy it! You’ll be feeling like yourself soon enough. Most likely, with more money comes more problems (2nd Biggie reference in the last 3 posts) and that when your life is down it will spring back. Its showing decisively that were all better than OK most of the time. A 7 is good man.
It tells me that we’re creating our own stresses when we don’t have to. This is where it hit personally for me. My stress isn’t because I’m depressed or bored at a 7 it’s because I think I want to be a 9 or 10 more often. I’ll go out of my way to add excitement that might be unnecessary or trivial just for the buzz of an 8 and often times the problems that stem from trying to get into the 9-10 range just add more problems to begin with.
For me, the real take away from the “happiness scale” changes the way I view the world and can hopefully change your views as well.
I now look at the world differently and have since formed my own opinions and takes from the studies.
I think we all have our “personal norm” on the happiness scale. Some people are just born or have become a 6 and guys like myself, that seem to be obnoxiously positive all the time, are probably closer to daily 8’s. say a 7.9. But that’s cool. It helps explain why that cashier at the grocery is such a jerk all the time. You see, she’s a permanent 6.8. So why should that chap my ass if she’s crabby and short as she rings up my coupons? I don’t have time to care, she’s not going to rub one single bit of her number off on me and I know her secret. She’s just a 6. Fine. If she could only see this, she wouldn’t be so bitter about not being an 8. She’d accept it and not worry do much about the others that are influencing her. It’s not the others see, it’s you. It’s me. I’ve instantly changed how I handle and perceive the world.
So, deal with your norm. Find your number and be cognizant of those around you. Some are slightly higher, some are slightly lower and some are just having exceptionally good or bad days and we can all deal with that. We’ve each and all been there. As my man, Mark Manson says, “Your problems are most likely neither unique or exceptional but actually quite common.”
But we no longer have to compare our stuff nor do we have to strive for things that aren’t just a normal part of who we are, we can just get on with our day. This knowledge has the added bonus of being able to see through and filter away the silly and nonsensical wastes of my time and energy. Example: The Facebook rants hating something. The news media and their opinions being laid out as fact. The TV commercials telling you that you NEED TO HAVE -THIS PRODUCT. Anything polital reported. I just blow past it, it won’t influence me anymore., In fact I usually just ignore it. Warning, this will practically kill your NFL football watching – you’re going to have to DVR that stuff and fast forward the commercials. You’ll really notice the commercials as they are demanding your attention for crap you already have or don’t need.
You don’t, in fact, always want to be at a 10! That would be self-defeating and dangerous and an impossibility. There would be nothing amazing to experience anymore, everything would be a let-down and nothing would ever be good enough. Our kids are, as we speak, being raised to actually BELIEVE this. It’s happening all the time. My kids get their candy they wanted at the candy store and it’s not enough or their sister’s is shinier and the wrapper isn’t bent or their friend at school got the newer style. Not a believer? did you not just live through fidget spinners?
Let’s get personal for a minute…Do you compare your house against your friends? Their car, their bank account, their Facebook post that got 137 comments and 400+ “likes”? Because guess what, they feel exactly like you feel about it. It’s a 7. They compare their crap to the next guys too and somewhere in the mountains in Slovenia is some shepherd in a cave with 20 goats and no cash and he feels EXACTLY as satisfied as you.
Enjoy your now. The Happiness scale is not like a school paper. It’s not 70% or a C grade. . It’s a completely different graph/scale and I don’t have time to talk or write up a stats dissertation on this page. But we’ve been hoodwinked into thinking it’s the same scale, that 7 is boring or not content and it’s NOT.
A 7 is much better than just content, it’s mildly happy – a 7 feels good so just enjoy it. We’re extremely lucky to live in this day and time where for the most part, our planet is at a 7. And more than anything Realize, we’re all about the same here and despite everyone always trying to make you feel like you need to be better, you don’t. You’re already there amigo.