Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seek happiness or avoid being pissed off?

I was watching one of the TED talks this morning about happiness. Apparently there is a formula for a successful relationship. It goes thus... 5 positive comments:1 negative comment. Yes, if you give 5 times as much positive feedback as you do critical or negative, you are more likely to have a successful relationship. Presumably, if you're having a particularly bad hair day and really put your foot in it, you should up the ratio to more like 6:1 or a crazy 7:1.

And why is it that we need such pandering and positive reinforcement that without a 5:1 ego stroke we're likely to pack the bags and leave? Because we are ancient(ish) beings, with a physiological system that is wired to either "seek pleasure/happiness" or "run like the clappers from danger" (fight or flight). And while our fight or flight system is very ancient and very few of us come across a saber-toothed tiger or warring tribesman, it is VERY well entrenched in our system, and very easily triggered to give us all the proper body things that we need. A racing heart rate, a burst of adrenaline, constriction of blood vessels (so blood is diverted to our hearts and away from potential bleeding extremity injuries). Full on. Useful a few thousand or more years ago. Not so great when having a scrap about how the towels should be pegged out.

Of course these useful physiological responses get re-directed to more noble pursuits in modern times. Such as depression (you don't want to know how many anti-depressants are prescribed), inappropriate touching (Uncle Lenny), bag packing and storming from home.

So, now that you know all of this, will you install a blackboard so that you can keep track of your good vs bad comments? Will you becalm your beating heart when observing illogical towel hanging? Or will you keep your handy hints to yourself? Me? I have the sinking feeling that a saber-toothed tiger cannot change it's 4.8:1 stripes.

1 comment:

hip to the beat said...

What a great post!
Such good analysis!
You're so smart!
And funny!
And obviously a really fast writer too!
Terrible subject though :(

(Yip 5:1 - let's see if it really works bwahahahahaha)