Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Happiness Life Cycle: An Open Letter to NBC's Brian Williams

Dude...I just wanted to have a few words with you about the Happiness Life Cycle that you featured on NBC Nightly News last night.

(I'm assuming you're cool with the whole "Dude" salutation, what with you being a frequent and much applauded guest on The Daily Show and now heading up a very slick, video-rich, blog-enabled web site.)

Chart of average happiness by age and sexAnd the first word I want to have is Dude! As in Dude! Did you look at this thing? It's going to drive people crazy.

Take me, for example. I'm a 55-year old guy and the chart is right! I am unhappy. Very unhappy. About rock bottom in fact, just like the chart says I should be. The thing is, Dude, I thought it was because the real estate crash just wiped out most of my net worth.

So much that I worked for has gone, poof, disappeared! Talk about depressing! But no, the real reason I'm unhappy, according to the chart, is because I'm at the bottom of the happiness curve.

Furthermore it looks like I'm about to start heading back up to happiness. This is great news, but so confusing. Does it mean I'm going to come to terms with being poorer than I was eight years ago? Eight years of hard toil, all for nought, yet I'm going to be happy? Maybe I am going to win the lottery just like the lady with the crystal ball said. Or perhaps an up-turn in the housing market is just around the corner (maybe you could start talking about it, pretty much like you talked us into bursting the bubble?). The thing is...

I don't think I'm getting how this graph works because--to be honest, Dude--it's just not working for my wife. She's almost 55 and not at all happy (c.f. previously mentioned loss of net worth, bills piling up, etc., etc.). In fact, she's as bummed as I am, but the chart says she should be almost as happy as she was at 20, when she was a happy-go-lucky surf bum in Florida. (Pretty ironic as we just put our house in Florida on the market--5 bedrooms, pool, spa, over an acre of land, walking distance to Fountain of Youth, less than two miles to the beach, only $895K if you know anyone who might be interested.)

So how does this chart work? In five years time I'm set to be as happy as I was when I was 40. My wife's supposed to be as giddy as a teenager by then. I'm pretty sure I can handle that, but how does she get back on track? Is there a make-up assignment she can do, a catch-up course she can go on? A lottery win or housing upturn? Maybe you could ask Dr. Nancy Snyderman. I have a feeling she drew the chart. (I found the original research paper here, and it has no charts in it.)

(BTW, what is the deal with Nancy these days? Are you required to host her on your show X number of times a week? I mean she's obviously a very clever woman and seems to be very nice but, no offense intended, do we need that many medical stories? Add them to all the disease-related ads that air during the broadcast and I often feel an urge to talk to my doctor as soon as you sign off.)

I will understand if you can't get back to me right away, Dude. You probably have a lot of people asking for clarification on this chart. For example, we have good friends in their eighties and they want to know why they don't feel as deliriously happy at the chart says they should. We also have many dear friends in their early thirties and a lovely daughter in her late twenties. They all want to know if there is any way to avoid sliding down the curve and into that trough of despond.

So Dude, may I humbly suggest you ask Nancy to do a follow-up story? She always seems to look at least as happy as the chart suggests she should be.

Keep up the good work. See you at six thirty...Stephen

No comments:

Post a Comment