Increasing my Happiness Index

If you’re even remotely close to me, chances are you already know of my fixation on Oprah. Ever since uni days (when i would regularly skip 9am lectures in favour of staying in and watching The Oprah Winfrey Show) I’ve always been spellbound by the messages and continuous education she provides for her viewers (Yes, I can live My Best Life!). Till today, I often buy her O magazines (the feature articles are so good, you devour them slowly as you would desserts) and read the website whenever I have time. So it was with interest that I read the article Finding and Keeping the Love of Your Life, in which renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher says she has a formula for romance based on mixing the right brain chemistry.

Wow, really? So simple?

I read the article and quickly identified which type DH and I are in. For my husband, it’s pretty easy – he’s definitely a Director.

Here’s what Fisher says are the earmarks of a Director: “Directors are analytical and logical, straightforward, decisive, tough minded, focused, and good at rule-based and spatial skills like mechanics, math, and music. They also tend to be ambitious and competitive, as well as emotionally contained, even aloof.” SO straightforward. That’s him all right.

What he longs for: “A mind mate.” Uh-oh. (He may have chosen wrongly for that one).

How I’m supposed to captivate him: “Remember that he or she will respond best if you are logical, accurate, and clear. Don’t criticize yourself (many Directors regard this as pathetic), and if you want to intrigue your partner, pursue topics of substance rather than small talk.” Topics of substance?! Uh, too late for that. Almost 9 years of marriage has seen me throwing countless topics under the sky in order to attract his attention to carry a conversation – anything from celebrities’ tidbits to direct provocation. No wonder I kept failing – I should have armed myself with Wikipedia.

I, on the other hand, am most probably a Negotiator: “Negotiators are imaginative, intuitive, empathetic, and emotionally expressive, and have good verbal and social skills. Most strikingly, these people see the big picture with all the options.”

What I long for: “A soulmate.” (God it’s so true it’s almost sad. “You love me. Real or not real?” Ahhhhh – I’m such a sucker.)

Here’s the surprise: Apparently, Directors bonds best with Negotiators, and vice versa. We are also the second most common type of pairings in the survey of 500 couples, after Builder-Director. 70% of the couples surveyed said, given the chance, they would marry each other all over again after 16 years of marriage.

Wow – I’m gobsmacked. Certainly this shows that fate has definitely played a hand in how we got together, since ordinarily I would say that we are so different from each other it’s almost weird how we got married. Who would’ve thought there’s actual scientific evidence why?

I also did another survey on the site, which calculates your Happiness Index and lets you know, rather depressingly, where you are on the happiness scale. I got a score of second highest – meaning I’m pretty happy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. They then offer 10 very helpful ways in doing just that, with the no.1 step being “Give your best attention to your most important relationships”. I really like the passage accompanying the point:

“Relationships are the heart of happiness. Social research has found “rich and satisfying relationships” are the only external factors that will move your happiness score from “quite happy” to “very happy.” A common mistake we make is to get so busy pursuing happiness that we fail to give our best time, energy and attention to our relationships. Remind yourself daily that happiness is in the connections you make, in the friendships you keep and in the love that exists between others.

If you want to be happy, be a friend. Identify your most important relationships, and think about how you can be a true friend to your partner, to your children, to your parents, to your colleagues, to your clients, etc. Another way to increase your happiness score is to make a conscious commitment to being the most loving person you can possibly be. Your intention to love and be loved is the absolute key to happiness. Love is the most fun you can have with anyone. In the final analysis, there is no difference between happiness and love.”

Beautiful and meaningful words that I will try to take to heart and practise in my everyday life. I often ponder and discuss with DH on how we should aim to be as happy as we can with each other and our family unit since we are praying and planning to live together for the rest of our lives. If we die at the age of 70, that leaves us with another 37 years of being stuck with each other, so we might as well make the most out of it and have fun. Not the most romantic notion, but I like to think this is an example of how I’ve matured over the years – I no longer believe it’s purely romance and “you had me at hello” kind of lines straight out of a movie (the way I sadly used to think).

Fireworks, romance, excitement. Most definitely I want them, but I recognise how they can be mirages that may rob you of actual happiness – since they distract from actual love and kindness occurring everyday. Stability, loyalty and happiness are the real prizes to win here (unless your name is Giuliana Rancic and you’ve been lucky enough to snare Bill, who literally provides fireworks for you at parties. But comparison is the thief of joy, and I’m trying to increase my Happiness Index here, so I digress…)

Categories: Marriage, Musings

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