Programmed to be Happy – what a relief!

This is officially my first blog post… My involvement in the blogosphere has long been encouraged by Aaron but I’ve never felt like I had the time or the interest in connecting with people through the internet. That’s why I pay a bunch of money for unlimited long-distance. And, certainly parenthood isn’t making MORE free time for me to blog. So, why now? Well, it is precisely because of the fact that I’ve become so busy, that I’ve needed to find new ways to connect. And all this busy-ness is due to some fascinating life changes and experiences that make me even more interested in communicating with people about these topics, especially with those are in similar roles. And for me, these roles include women in science, budding astronomers, educators, working mothers, guilty mothers (or are those two the same?), first-time mothers, wives of husbands of first-time mothers, etc. Plus, I have posts swirling around in my head about a few less-important of my societal roles such as jaywalker, tax-payer, patient of the American health-care system, Canadian living in the USA, frequent flyer, resenter of the ’self-help’ industry, lover of Netflix & Craigslist, hedonist, and so on…

I envision my blog posts to be places to discuss these topics with my friends (and anyone else who wants to visit) when we can’t make that Sunday afternoon phone-date like the good old days.

(Please ignore the poor spelling and grammar as i’m just going to freely type. Plus, aaron edits enough of my writing already so I won’t bother him with this.)

So, let’s get started… (and I promise the posts won’t all be about motherhood.)

Aaron and I watched a seminar online last night entitled “The (Misguided) Pursuit of Happiness” by Dan Gilbert which can be found here . It’s 21 minutes long and is entertaining and worth watching, though the point is made early on: Synthetic Happiness vs Natural Happiness, is one more valuable than the other? No!

There are wide-spread implications for what Dr. Gilbert is saying here but I’m particularly interested in reviewing this concept in the context of motherhood, and even further focusing on motherhood when working outside the home and when working inside the home. Which makes us happier? [Now a selfless mother might say it’s not about our happiness but about what is best for the children. Perhaps. But as Aaron likes to say, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”]

According to Gilbert, the two options will make us equally happy because within a relatively short period of time, we will just simply be happy with whichever decision we made. Why? Because we are programmed to make lemonade from lemons while convincing ourselves that we were destined to drink this lemonade, and that we’ve never really wanted the ice tea in the first place. And furthermore, those that choose the ice tea don’t know what they’re missing!

Of my female friends with babies, most of those in Canada have chosen to take their full 1-year maternity leave, and then return to work. A few have decided to stay home full time, and some have even started kick-ass businesses while being at home (e.g. Alison’s sexy nursing bras – www.nummies.ca ). For those of us in the U.S. where the term “maternity leave” has yet to evolve from a 6-week, unpaid recovery, we’re all back at work pretty fast leaving our babies with sitters and pumping breast milk at every opportunity.

So, after seeing this seminar on Happiness and trying to objectively assess your choices, would you consider your current state as natural or synthesized happiness? Are you truly happy with your decision to work at home or at the office?

[It’s likely that all the new-mother hormones will skew the results, but it’s still worth thinking about. If you have a comment, please include it by clicking on the comment link below.]

– Evgenya

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