Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are You Happy?

I saw someone tweeting the other day that they had issues with being asked "are you happy?" and thought a bit about it.

I've been thinking about the issue of either /or a lot lately, it comes from a chapter I read in the Edward de Bono book I told you about here. He tells us that the mind often seeks out dichotomies, that we frequently analyse situations and force polarization. It means that we construct certainties, even when they don't have to exist.

For example, in the legal world a person is either innocent or guilty. If you're one then you're not the other and there is no middle ground. Many have said the old if you're not with us then you're against us thing, another prime example. Why does not being one thing mean that you have to be the other?

Are you a friend of mine? No? Then you must be an enemy. Well not necessarily. I could go on with examples but I'm sure you get the idea.

As with so much of this book this was a revelation to me and it's made me trundle off into my everyday life with a vastly increased level of consciousness about how often I make these either /or decisions in my mind.

I consciously caught myself ruminating on the issue of whether someone was a loyal employee or not, realising that this was a very "live" example. They didn't have to be classified as either one or the other and the change in my mindset was a huge help to me. They can be loyal one minute and disloyal the next, experience proves it as well.

Do I like this band or don't I? Well the nice new mindset of mine is that I don't have to decide one way or the other. Pretty nifty eh.

Of course there's a danger that I can take it too far, to the nth degree. I saw Electra's post the other day in which she writes about art and her need for it to speak to her. One sentence in particular caught my eye:

"Radiohead speaks to me, Coldplay just doesn't."

It caught my eye for several reasons. The first is tangential, but one of my personal idiosyncracies, simply that I always feel uncomfortable referring to a band in the singular. I know it's grammatically correct, as the band is a single unit, it just doesn't sit right with me. I always talk about a band as "them", wrong I know, but so right too.

Then, I hate Coldplay. I just don't get them, with their whining melodramatic songs, and broody nature. I used to do Trouble and In My Place in a former band and they were great fun to play and fantastic songs, I just don't like them repeated as infinitum with different words and slight musical variations.

Also, Radiohead are an issue for me. I'm one of the few people who just isn't a fan of OK Computer. I love Paranoid Android and Karma Police but overall the album doesn't do it for me and I rarely listen to it. The Bends is a different matter. I come back to it time and time again and have just suggested that my covers band does the title track.

Do I like Radiohead? Well it's not a yes or no answer, I like their more rocky stuff and I'm far less a fan of their quieter efforts.

And, on the issue of whether a person is happy or not, there's no need for that dichotomy to be created. If I'm asked the question the answer isn't a yes and it isn't a no. Or, if I answer yes it doesn't mean that I can't be unhappy about something too. I can be unhappy about the fact that I spent that money while also being happy that I've got a new shirt.

The only way that one negates the other is if I make that leap of logic in my own mind, if I go through my day thinking that I won't be happy because I'm unhappy about that other thing.

I don't do that, my glass is three quarters full, not three quarters empty.


Sachintha said...

Hahah got me there!

Electra said...

Coldplay is (are?) really just a pretentious, talentless excuse for a band. They always annoyed me, and he even LOOKS a little like Thom Yorke.

Radiohead, on the other hand, as far as I'm concerned, is about the best band in the world. There's substance there dude, they know what they're doing. Coldplay is just trying. And failing.

Forget the Bends, try Kid A and Amnesiac.