Ever since Pharrell Williams bounced into our lives singing the Happy song, I can’t stop hearing the Happy song. You simply can’t avoid it. It’s on the radio, television, elevators, airports, our computers and in the middle of my soft taco dinner this week at a friendly restaurant. My wife had it on a loop on her laptop playing it over and over again until I finally ran screaming from the house. Folks on the Internet from across the globe are dancing to the tune that apparently makes them happy, happy, happy.
Pharrell Williams is happy because he, “feels like a room without a roof.” Ever had that happy feeling?
If you live in Tornado Alley and after the funnel cloud passes overhead and you’re standing in a room without a roof - and you’re alive - I’d think a wave of relief would wash over you. I’m not sure about happiness. And after reading dozens and dozens of reports, studies, analyses and conclusions about when we’re happiest in our lives and why, I’m not sure the experts are sure about the happiness curve.
They’re pretty sure we become happier as we age.
I got to thinking about this while sitting for two hours in an airplane on the tarmac at George Bush Airport in Houston this week. It was my connecting flight home from Detroit where I’d, ironically, delivered the Keynote Address at the North American Elderly Mobility Conference - addressing transit issues surrounding a fast-growing older population.
My transit issue involved a violent strand of thunderstorms. I was virtually stranded and it didn’t bother me. And that made me happy.
And what do you know. There’s another new study in the Journal of Consumer Research exploring the role of age on the happiness we receive from both the ordinary and the extraordinary experiences in our lives.
Younger folks trend toward the extraordinary for happiness. Older folks - me I guess - are content with ordinary.
I’ll have to go with the Buddhist on this one: There’s relative happiness depending on things outside ourselves, like friends, money and the size of our house.
But there’s absolute happiness: inside ourselves, undefeated by trials; where being alive is a great joy.
Defining happiness is elusive, but don’t stop telling us what it means to you. George Burns, for instance, nailed it: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family...in another city.
George makes me laugh and that makes me happy.