Welcome back, self
I wrote this on November 15, 2013, but never posted it. I'm posting it now as backstory for another post to be posted soon.
On Friday morning, I got a couple of nice notes from friends, saying nice and friendly things. Which made me happy.
And then I biked to work (for the fourth day that week, the first time I've managed more than two or three biking days in one week in ages), and the California sunshine was lovely and warm, and even though I know the state is in the middle of a historic dry spell that could cause all sorts of problems, the sunshine really makes me happy.
And then I got to work, and started settling in, and a colleague stopped by to let me know that there's a new Dr Who webisode on the official YouTube channel, and hearing that (and my colleague going out of the way to let me know about it, because we had a chat about the show the other day), also made me happy.
And I realized that I've missed this.
It's how I think of myself as being. A ground state of cheerfulness; optimistic instead of gloomy, charitable instead of irritable, ready to enjoy and appreciate instead of criticizing and complaining. A quirk to my lips that's ready to turn into a smile when given a little push in the right direction. An underlying sense of ease and relaxation and comfort and contentment.
But a couple years ago, I signed up for an online happiness survey, and so every few months there's a week or two when I get texted several times a day asking how happy I am, and almost every time, my response is somewhere between just below midpoint and just above midpoint. That's partly because when I'm especially happy, it's usually situational, which usually means I'm in the middle of something and don't stop to respond to the survey. But it's also because during a lot of the past couple years, cheerful has not been my ground state; it's only been an intermittent thing.
There are things that fairly reliably make me happy. Sunshine on skin, warm water on skin, warm skin on skin. Funny jokes. Sex. Seeing people I like being happy. Experiencing art that I like (movies, TV, books, stories, blog posts, music, radio drama, controlled fire tornados, circus-arts performances, etc). Singing. Talking with close friends. Observing people's passion, idealism, and/or competence.
But in the past couple years, those things have tended to only temporarily make me happy, and then I return to a sort of a meh base state.
That'll probably happen today, too. I can feel small irritations nipping at the edges of my mood even as I write this. But I can also feel a current of happiness welling up underneath.
No idea whether that'll last. Given the frustrations of daily life, given my recent mood swings, given my tendency to fall into seasonal mullygrubs in winter, chances are good that it won't. But while it's here, it's really nice; sort of like reaching down and dipping into a well of joy.
Back to 2016: Sure enough, that baseline cheerfulness didn't last. But this post is very relevant as backstory for another post to follow sometime soon.