Not long ago, I had an epiphany – happiness projects for everyone! Join in! No need to catch up, just jump in now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.
Here’s this Friday’s assignment: Show up.
Just as Woody Allen said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” about eighty percent of relationships is showing up.
This particular resolution is hard for me, because I’m always haunted by the feeling that I should be spending my time in front of my computer, or if not, I should be with my family.
Plus, it’s so much easier to stay home rather than to “show up,” which means dealing with the logistics of coordinating to meet another person or showing up at a particular place. Often “showing up” means foregoing wearing running shoes, always a sacrifice for me.
But showing up is a crucial way to keep in touch with other people, to keep interests alive, to have fun, and to bring novelty and challenge—so important for happiness—into your life.
Showing up is important for building relationships, studies show, because familiarity breeds affection. The “mere exposure effect” describes the fact that repeated exposure makes people like music, faces—even nonsense syllables—better. According to the “exposure principle,” the more often a person sees another person, the more intelligent and attractive that person will be ranked.
I’ve noticed this about myself. Even when I don’t take an immediate liking to a person, I tend to like him or her better, the more often we see each other. And at the same time, of course, the more I show up, the more that person likes me.
Also, “showing up” exposes me to new mental and physical environments. I love routine in every way, but even I have to admit that the happiness experts are right when they say that novelty and challenge bring happiness. Whenever I leave my hamster-wheel habits, I get a boost of happiness.
Because of my resolution to “Show up,” I’ve been better about visiting friends’ newborns. I’ve been to various reunions. I’ve gone to panels and forums that I might have skipped. I took a “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” class. Whenever I show up, I’m happy that I did. And yet, every time, I have to struggle with my impulse to stay home.
Of course, there’s a balance. I have to “Show up” at the computer and with my children, too. I need time to stay at home and read in bed with the Big Man.
Today I’m “showing up” – but I don’t need a push this time. My children’s literature book group is taking a field trip: we’re meeting in Times Square to see The Golden Compass in the middle of the day. In preparation, I re-read the trilogy. Can the movie possibly live up to the book? I’ll find out at 12:45 today.
I just discovered The Thinking Blog. It’s one of those sites where you never know what to expect, and you find out the oddest bits of information…I find these utterly addictive.
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