Happy New Year Oh Ye Readers of Dr. Bossypants. While she has been otherwise occupied, Dr. Bossypants has not forgotten you. But now. Right now is an excellent time to consider human motivation for positive change (or lack thereof), sometimes taking the form of a New Year’s Resolution. A couple of years ago, Dr. Bossypants helped create a college course exploring the art and science of wellbeing—fondly referred to as the Happiness Class. This course provides a veritable gold mine of potential new year’s resolutions one might make to improve one’s mood or attitude. Most of the nuggets taught in the course have research support and have the added advantage of being doable and commonsensical. There are simply no excuses for failing to make your day a little better. You don’t have to be miserable.
Oh wait, you say you want to be miserable? You have the right to be mean, grumpy, sad, despondent, hopeless, and a drag to be around. True. But why? This is an existential question that plagues Dr. Bossypants. Some of us are naturally happier than others, but all of us, every last one of us, has the prerogative to move that baseline up a bit. But we don’t. Or if we do, we don’t sustain it.
- Are we built to scan for what is wrong rather than what is right?
- Are there a few things drastically wrong with the world?
- Do we live in an advertising culture dead set on exploiting and magnifying our fears?
- Can we search the internet and find millions of smarter, sexier, richer people?
- Do we struggle to do the basics, like eat right, exercise, and declutter?
People, the odds are stacked against us. We need to fight back. One way to do this is to sign up for the aforementioned Happiness Class. You can do it as a bonafide UM student, or you can fork over $250.00 and take it as a community walk-on. Fully online and available to view anywhere, anytime. Is this shameless promotion of a good thing? Yes. But neither Dr. Bossypants nor her sidekick, The Instructor, gain monetarily if we convince people to take the course. Both are paid exactly the same. In Dr. Bossypants’ case, this is zero.
BUT it makes Dr. Bossypants smile (skeptically) to think of her fans living slightly more balanced lives with slightly elevated moods and slightly higher motivation to be nice. Will it be 15 weeks of sheer joy? Well, no. But each week you can devote 3 hours to understanding human wellbeing, and thus, the chance to wonder why the hell you don’t do the very things you know you should. Here are links to read more and sign up:
One final comment: Dr. Bossypants is perversely intrigued with how, when, and why humans walk away from the chance to be happier or kinder and instead, choose to wallow in wretchedness, gratified when they can ruin their own day or the day of those they encounter. Of course, she is mildly interested in the inverse: How do humans manage to make conscious choices to better their lives, improve their relationships, and behave more compassionately? If you can observe yourself and those around you, and then share your observations along these lines, THAT would make Dr. Bossypants slightly happier, and she would be grateful.