Sunday, February 19, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part nine

So, despite everything I've said before, this might be my favourite response to this topic--probably because it challenges some basic assuptions and makes us think deeply about what matters. 

Some research was done on "happiness." How happy are you? Obvious results were about family income. If your family income was below a particular level (and I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't huge--something like $80,000 per household, but please don't quote me), you were less happy than those at that level: in fact, the further below this level you were, the less happy you were. All to be expected.

But here was the part that challenges our assumptions: for folks above that level, the researchers saw the flattest results they had ever seen. No matter whether you earned $100 more or $1, 000, 000 more, you were no happier. So, research supports what we've always tried to tell ourselves (even if we never quite believed it): money does not make us happy. (When I saw this information, the moderator asked if this would be used to direct taxation policy: it's an interesting question . . . . )

And then the recession of 2008 hit . . . which drove the researchers back into the field. Would these results hold when incomes went down and life became less certain? Here's what they found over the recession and the year following.
  • People's levels of happiness went down with their incomes (paralleling the stock exchange).
  • When some measure of recovery appeared, people's levels of happiness went up (paralleling the stock exchange).
  • At the end of the year, even though their incomes were lower than before and their job security was less than before, they were happier than they had been before.
The researchers assumed something they called the adaptation principle: when times are tough, we find out how resilient we are, we find out who we can count on , and we find out what really matters. In other words, we find out what it takes to make us happy.
For all the reasons listed in all the posts below, knitting makes me happy!  So, no matter how tough times are, I will knit. And I am comforted in this choice by the words of Neitsze:

For happiness . . . how little suffices for happiness. The littlest thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, little makes up the best happiness.

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