Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Charmed Life

I took my baby niece to the Magic Kingdom. To be perfectly honest, she is so gorgeous that we always get stopped by complete strangers who want to tell her how cute she is. I think she looks like me.

My sister, Weez, and I were sitting with her on the ferry boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom when, as usual, some stranger sat down next to us and told us how perfect-looking my niece is. We smiled and modestly said thank you, though we really just wanted to respond, "We know. We get that ALL the time." 

This particular woman was also very curious about us as well. Where are we from?, where do we work?, etc. I told her I live in New York City on the Upper West Side. "You do?" she responded. "Do you go to all of those fancy restaurants and have lots of friends there?" "I do," I replied. "I have a pretty spectacular life there. I'm very lucky." "You certainly are!" she cried. "Can I have that life?"

This overwhelming sense of gratitude and appreciation hit me. I really am lucky. I really do live a charmed and happy life. So why have I not been realizing that for the past few weeks? Why have I been silently worrying and fretting?

Take a look at this: It's an opinion piece from today's New York Times about happiness. Recent studies show that our situation relative to others is more concerning to us than our absolute situation. If I lose my job, and everyone else around me keeps theirs, then I feel very, very bad. But if I lose my job, and so does everyone else I know, then my general happiness really isn't effected too much. Apparently "poor me" feels far worse than "poor us." If we're all in this together, then it's really not so bad. If I'm all alone up the creek without a paddle, then it's depression city. 

So is the key to happiness not our actual situations but rather surrounding ourselves with people who think we live a charmed life, or at least a life as good as theirs? 

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