Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Joy in Being Miserable

Or offended. Or mad. Or ...

Toonhead mentions this. "I know people who find happiness in being offended. They don't realize that offense is their source of happiness but if they were not offended by something then their conversations would be very short and their lives would have less meaning."

This is something I've been doing a lot of thinking about recently. I first became really aware of this phenomenon with my MIL's stepmother. If someone had written her into a movie, the critics would blast it, saying her character was completely unbelievable. That bad. Really. The kind of person who got so much pleasure in criticizing. Actual happiness from something good -- pah! But give her something to complain about or criticize, and she was in hog heaven.

I've seen this in church matters. The old thing about arguing with someone being like mud-wrestling a pig -- at some point, you realize the pig likes it. There are actually some people who derive pleasure from being in the midst of church drama! I know, shocking! There is some physiological response to being righteously indignant that the brain registers as pleasure.

No halo over my head. I know I have succumbed to the mighty temptress before. And I am a big proponent on throwing grand pity parties, when one really needs one.

So ... getting pleasure out of being miserable. Human.

Which brings me to discussions I've had with my 11 year old son. We've talked about how it can feel pleasurable to be unhappy. Or to be mad. But at some point, the pity party needs to end. And you have to say, You know, as much fun as this is, it genuinely feels better to be happy than to be miserable. (And more people want to be around you.)

So, my immediate goal is, when I am getting hot and bothered about some issue, to check myself. Heart racing? Feeling excited? Feeling ... pleasure? Take it down a notch, chief. You're hopped up on misery and probably not thinking straight. Take a break and analyze after the misery-high has worn off.

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