The A Word: Is Happiness Overrated?

2020 has certainly packed a punch so far and there are mixed opinions on how quickly we should return to normal.  I can see both sides of the argument and protecting life should always take priority.  Whilst the furlough scheme has protected some, many other people have suffered because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, so I’m in favour of the tentative approach to open up our Country. 

Interestingly YouGov’s mood tracker picked up many changes in the nation’s emotional state during lockdown.  In March, the nation’s mood was unaffected by the virus. Since that point, things have taken a turn for the worse.

The tracker was launched in July last year and the most common emotion in Britain was “happy”, with an average of 50%. In early March before lockdown 50% of Britons said this had been how they had felt.  Since then, however, this figure has plummeted to just 26%. In fact, happiness is now only the sixth most commonly cited emotion, behind negative emotions such as stress, frustration and feeling scared and unsettled.  Boredom was also up and feeling content was down.

It got me thinking about how much emphasis is placed on happiness which is generally defined as the experience of frequent positive thoughts, such as joy, elation, and delight.  However, the pursuit of happiness can be expensive and time-consuming.  Money can buy us temporary happiness but after depleting our funds, we always come back ‘down’ to our natural state.

Contentment is different to happiness.  Contentment is generally defined as a longer lasting, but a deeper feeling of satisfaction and gratitude.  Being content is a state, whereas happiness is a moment. A content person does not need to always be happy, as long as there aren’t too many unhappy moments.

If we’re content with ourselves, we’ll have more time and energy to live and experience life, in both its delightful and wonderful moments. It doesn’t mean we can’t have goals for a better or different lifestyle, but it’s important to find acceptance and contentment no matter what your situation. Even if you have nothing, you can enjoy a sunrise or sunset.  During lockdown I’ve appreciated different things such as the birdsong on our walks, the beauty of our countryside, eating some of the wonderful bread and cakes baked by my husband and, except for some of my ungrateful days, I mostly felt content.  In my opinion, feeling content is more important than feeling happy.

That said, one of the biggest influencing factors to feeling content is our health, both physical and mental.  Living with autoimmune disease means you do have bad days but knowing what is wrong with you and being in control of your illness certainly helps.  The problem with autoimmune disease is that it is often difficult to diagnose so you may be living with health issues but every time you visit a GP or hospital, there is no obvious reason for your distress which contributes to mental health too.

I  lived with chronic pain and other unpleasant symptoms for 23 years until I finally received my diagnosis for ankylosing spondylitis.   I first experienced Iritis, an extremely painful inflammation of the eye which is linked to AS in 1992, but wasn’t diagnosed until 2015, by which time my sacroiliac joints had already fused.

If you experience fatigue, aching muscles, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, skin rashes or chronic pain, its important to continue your pursuit to find an answer.  There are other symptoms which are often dismissed such as trouble concentrating or low-grade fever. It’s never just one factor. Diagnosis can also be difficult because these symptoms can come from other common conditions.

There are over 80 autoimmune conditions that scientists know about all of which follow the same pattern when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body.  Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells.  In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells, so diagnosis is really important.

Moving on, the term Force Majeure intrigued me when I was selling software and negotiating the contracts. Force Majeure is a common contractual clause which can free parties of liability in the event of specified circumstances beyond the control of the parties.  I always wondered what would trigger it as it never came into play in any of the contracts I was involved in.  It covers events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorism, war, and depending on how a contract is worded, they also cover pandemics.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the social lockdowns in both the UK and internationally have seen a rapid increase in queries relating to force majeure including reports of refused refunds from holiday companies and airlines because of a force majeure clause?  I guess it’s keeping the lawyers busy and I’ll  will be interested to follow the outcome.

My finale this week is about Twitter as it has a reputation of being a very dark place where the ugliest voices are often the loudest.  For me, Twitter is great as I get more click throughs to my blog from Twitter than from any other social media platform by a long way.    I saw a funny quote during lockdown which resonated and pretty much summed Twitter up.

“Twitter is a terrible platform, but, on the other hand it does provide 98% of my entertainment for the day” 😊

Until next time, stay safe, #StayAlert xxx

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