It has been a few months since I got hocked on to The Good Place. In just a few months it turned into my absolute favorite show. It is about a self-centered woman who accidentally ends up in the good place which is pretty much heaven. In order to not be sent to the bad place she tries to become a better person and earn her place in the good place.
This in itself sounds like a perfectly enjoyable piece of television, but this is not the reason I write about it on this blog. The show made an actual impact on me. Not only was able to laugh from the bottom of my heart, but I became more positive. Because all those bright pictures and all that happiness that is constantly shown in the series made me happier. In addition to that it discusses several philosophical concepts which allowed me to straighten my view of the world a little more.
But it was when I listened to The Good Place -The Podcast- that I suddenly realized one thing: All these amazing people who work on The Good Place have one thing in common: They radiate appreciation and happiness. The producers, cast members, directors, writer, everyone is aware of what an outstanding piece of art they are creating and they are grateful to be part of it. One of them once said in awe : “This is our job!” Meaning they can almost not believe, that their life is so perfect.
I find this so very inspiring. It means that working towards a wonderful life is not in vain, but it also means that appreciating one’s life the way it is, is possible and a great source of happiness. And here’s another thought: If we hate on what we are doing on a daily basis, we will never become great at what we do, because we keep avoiding it.
There is one other thing: The shows we watch and the people we surround ourselves with have an impact on us. If we watch dark movies all the time, we might get nightmares (has happened to me before) but if we watch happy TV shows, we will be a little happier in our own lives as well. And surrounding us with happy people, or just spending some time listening to happy people talk, can inspire us to be happy. It makes it easier to be positive day after day. And being positive does not only affect us. As I said before: positive people have an awesome effect on their surroundings. And if we are positive, we can make our friends and families a little happier.
That is why I think trying to be happy, surrounding us with happy shows, music etc. is worth it. It makes us and those we love happier.
thing: We all strive for happiness. But I think the term “happiness” is
overused and therefore without meaning. So let’s have a closer look. I have
found there are three kinds of happiness:
Momentary emotional happiness:
Long term emotional happiness: base
Excitement is the kind of happiness where someone is jumping up and down in joy, because the happiness cannot be contained. This kind we experience, when we for example see something pretty, or when we get a phone, or dress. It is the kind of happiness, that lasts for minutes, hours and in rare cases for a day or two. And it needs a trigger.
happiness is way less outgoing. It is a state where a human being is content
and no matter what happens in one’s daily life, we trust, that it will be
alright. And while of course, we get mad or sad from time to time, we still
have that underlying happiness and peace to keep us from letting the negative
emotions get to us. It is however an emotion, because we feel happy at the core, even if we are going through a though
happiness is tricky: This is when we do not feel happy. We may even feel sad,
but we know that we have no reason to feel that way because our life is more or
less very good. It is when we keep telling ourselves, that we are fine. When we
try to feel better, because we cannot see the reason for not being happy.
How do these affect our mental health and how can they be utilized?
Excitement is, what we get, if we are depending on someone or something for our happiness, this is why depending is an issue. Excitement can keep us from becoming base level happy. While it really only makes us momentarily happy. And that’s how we develop addictions. We feel happy for a bit, then it goes away and whatever it is that made us happy: we need it again. That can be drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex and watching TV or even things that we would not typically be viewed as potentially addictive like studying or reading or playing with a pet.
The problem with excitement really is the dependence, which again only occurs, if we are not happy on a base level. Let me explain: There is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine to loosen up once in a while. But we have a problem if we do not feel comfortable when we are sober anymore. This also ties in with my latest post about relationships: of course we get excited about our relationships. And of course we experience happiness beyond description. It is natural and great as long as we do not depend on that to make us happy. Because excitement is not base level happiness, which is really what makes us happy in the long run.
Rational happiness is what many of us have. We nourish it by practicing gratitude and by focusing our mind on the good things in life. It is what we can experience even when we are at our lowest emotional state. This can lead to frustration. Because we feel bad, but we know we should be fine. And we start faking. We start hating ourselves, for feeling down for no reason. It can also lead to us questioning if we are actually bad or if we make ourselves miserable.
On the bright side however rational happiness can help us tab into base level happiness. Because we can actively tell ourselves that our lives are good. And if we tell ourselves often enough at some point we will believe it. Of course we need experience to back this up, but in essence that is how it works.
And finally there is base level happiness. And I have hinted at it a lot: it is what we want to achieve. Because the others are either not emotional or they are to momentary. Both of them can help to achieve it. Because with excitement we can experience why we are happy. And rational happiness helps us to preserve that excitement. Helps us see, why we are actually happy. So in essence base level happiness is what we get when we combine excitement (pure emotion) with rational happiness (pure rationality). But there is another aspect to it: and this is the longevity of base level happiness. And this is what ties happiness to positivity and awareness: We experience the calm of this happiness, because we stopped searching for happiness outside our lives. We stopped thinking: “Once I do this or that life will be better.” or “Once I get this or that, everything will be easier.” and instead started loving what we are doing on a daily basis.
To start doing that rational happiness can help. It helps to identify the nice things. And then we can start feeling that happiness. When we go to bed, we can look forward to getting up because we can go do our jobs. Whatever that may be. At this point there is one important realization: We are not getting up, for our alarm clocks. We are getting up, because we chose to. Because there is a day awaiting us. And it will be an awesome day. And sure, there will be moments, when we wish we could just walk away, but isn’t there a reason, we are not walking away? Are we not sitting through that meeting to get ideas on how to improve? Are we not trying to understand that mathematical formula to be able to solve problems later on? And are those goals not what we genuinely want?
This is the beauty of base level happiness. It allows us to be happy with our life for the sake of our lives. It makes us independent and self-confident. And it gets us through the rough patches, because it is not only the exciting things in our lives, that we love, but also the constants: the things we do on a daily basis. And even if these things fork (Good Place equivalent for f*ck) us up hard, we trust that it will be alright. Because when it comes down to it, we chose them for a good reason. In my experience this makes life so calm. We stop thinking about what others think of us, because we are content. The fear just goes away. And deep down we know that when it comes down to it everything is just fine. We stop hating ourselves, because we are living the life we want to live.
How the heck do we achieve base-level happiness?
Create a vision of yourself. A vision of our lives. I elaborated on this in a previous post. When we start doing what we want to do, which is exactly what happens when we start working towards our vision, we can love what we are doing, even when it’s hard from time to time. And the other point is to enhance the other two kinds of happiness. For example: get a hobby that we love doing and gets us feeling good. And of course, enhancing rational happiness by trying to make our mindsets more positive.
Noticing how independent we actually are, because at any point in our lives we have the possibility to just walk away. This means, we do have the power. Even if we are fighting some sort of mental illness, we can still walk away. We can still choose what our life looks like, which is really all we could ask for isn’t it?
I am not going to deny that I am a huge fan of the TV show The Good Place. This show makes me laugh out loudly and at the same time makes me think about right and wrong. It allows me to remember my own moral compass, which I find outspokenly reassuring.
One of the actresses of the show Jameela Jamil has started a motion where women think about what it is that makes so amazing. So today on the bus I figured I might write my own little list. I ended up writing down two main points and a couple of points that specify those.
I am aware that this is not something we are always capable of doing. But I think writing it down (again preferably on paper, just like the gratitude log) helps to radiate positivity. To remember why we want to keep fighting. To remember that we are too precious to hurt ourselves. Remember that we are worth being protected.
This again is just one tiny step towards positivity, towards a positive mindset. It helps us to get motivated to recover. Helps us, to become better versions of ourselves, because it helps us to focus on the things that are great about us and it helps us making those things even better.
Again: and I feel like I cannot repeat this often enough: We cannot always force ourselves to be positive. And that is alright. There are so many instances were people around me try to lift me up and I just wish for them to stop and let me cry and be my miserable self. But I also think that it is important, to be positive, if we can. And to remember, that positivity is a thing. And it is an important thing. Not to be forced, but to be celebrated, when we get the chance.