Happy now?

May. 20th, 2011 02:53 pm
teadog1425: (Maze)

I came across an interesting article today in the THE (another advantage of working in a university environment!)  The article is: “The Wellbeing of Nations,” by Andrew Oswald (19 May 2011, Times Higher Education, pp 35-39), and he talks about the economics (more exactly, the statistics) of happiness.  Interesting points below…


1)       The answers that people give about how happy they are, tend to correlate well with the judgments of their friends, families and partners, as to how happy they think the individual is – which becomes more obvious the more you think about it really!  But still, it does reflect a (perhaps surprising) unanimity of presentation – i.e. that happy people are consistently happy to all those they interact with, and unhappy people vice versa – what about those who put on a jovial face with friends, and torture themselves with depression in private?  Or is that in fact not as effective a disguise as they think, and their friends still code them correctly as unhappy?


2)      There is a strong correlation between where you are in your life-cycle and how happy you perceive yourself to be – people in their late teens (15-20) are fairly happy and that score then drops steadily to reach a low for people in their 40s (41-50), after which it rises steeply until it reaches a much greater high for people in their 60s – perhaps because by that point you’re just so pleased to still be around?!  ;)  This means that (if I am typical), I am currently on the downward slide (being in my 30s) with another decade or so to go of feeling dissatisfied with my life, before things start to improve!  I can see why that might be the case – your 30s and 40s are the key decades for you to actually achieve or not the things that you might have wanted to achieve – relationship, property-ownership, career success, kids – there’s a lot of pressure in comparing yourself to a template of what you think you ought to have achieved or to what your peers have achieved, and where there are disappointments, these are often hard to come to terms with.  By the time you’re in your 50s and 60s, you have perhaps adjusted for these, and either have achieved the markers that you considered important, or have adjusted your goals to accept what you actually have…


3)      Things that the stats suggest have a high correlation to personal happiness (with comments!):

a.       Being a woman – phew!  ;)

b.      Having lots of friends – I finally feel like I am improving at this, with a much more stable social group and a better balance of people to spend time with vs time spent on my own – having the horse has been a massive factor in this…

c.       Being married or having a steady cohabitation – well, a no for me on this, obviously! – I do wonder whether the steady cohabitation has to be romantic in order to have its effect – what about a group of friends who live together as a steady arrangement?

d.      Having a PhD – This made me laugh out loud!  Hah!  Finally it is good for something!  I certainly don’t think that doing my PhD was good for my happiness, but certainly as I’ve got further away from the trauma, I can see the benefits more and more, so, maybe, yes…  ;)

e.       (and more generally) Having a good education

f.        Having a higher income

g.       Being healthy


4)      What the stats suggest as the great negatives in life:

a.       Unemployment

b.       Serious illness

c.       A recent divorce or separation – though, overall, the data suggests that two years after divorce, happiness levels rise again.


5)      Whether people have children or not, turns out to not be statistically significant in terms of their personal happiness levels – which is surprising… 


6)      I thought this was an interesting quote: “Health matters.  There is a great deal of research done by epidemiologists…to show that there seem to be very deep, powerful links between the quality of your mind – what is going on in your head – and how well your body works.  We do not understand the mechanisms at all well.”  I agree with this, and I’m really interested to see what is uncovered by this research, re the effect of thinking on body functioning…


7)      I also felt a real sense of recognition at this: “…in a deep sense, we are animals of comparison.  We cannot help it.  What I want is to have three BMWs and for my friend to have an old Ford.  That is what I want deep down, even though I cannot face up to that fact, and cannot say it to him or admit it to myself.”  Hah!  God, yes.  I keep thinking that the times when I get really stressed about things, are primarily because I am comparing myself to what other people have, and how unhelpful this is…


Which, I suppose, begs the question – especially given that I tick a privileged number of the positives on the lists above – do I consider myself happy? 


I’ve always felt – even at the points where I was finding life in general pretty hard – that deep inside, however difficult I might find it to access when things are proving tricky, I have an unshakeable core of optimism.  I’m generally a happy person, who has to (and sometimes does – bad brain! no biscuit!) work quite hard to make themselves miserable.  Even in the times that were pretty dark, I got a lot of pleasure from an incredible sunset, or a flower silhouetted just so, or the way a strange cat arched its head under my hand – and I think I’m very lucky that my brain works like that.


I’ve also worked really hard over the past five years or so – made a lot of changes to the way I think, to the way I interact with people, to what I spend my time doing – and I am definitely much happier with my life on a day-to-day level than I have been at any time I can remember before.  The majority of this is down to the pleasure that I get from being around animals, and horses in particular, which I have made a much larger part of my life, and most acutely since last summer, in having a relationship that comes closest to a ‘my’ horse, which is the best thing that I have made happen in my life so far… 


How about you guys?  Do you see yourselves as happy people?  And if so, are you happy now?

teadog1425: (Diddi)

Had a lovely, lovely morning down the stables, just messing around with the horses!

J's new baby Icelandic, Diddi (the pony in the icon), has now been with us for a couple of weeks and he is sooooo good!  He's 3, so he hasn't been backed yet, though J's mum, who was looking after him, has been doing a lot of work with him, so he's very used to being handled and wearing a headcollar and bridle.  Last weekend, we took him and Marco out for a walk on the common and he behaved like a sedate old gentleman, rather than a 3 year old out for his FIRST walk!  The only time he had a bit of a fit was at a big grey tree stump, which obviously looked like it ate Icelandic horses for breakfast, but even then he just had a bit of a jump sideways, and once Marco led the way, he walked past it with no problems!

Today was the first day for having his saddle on and he was a STAR!  He looked completely unconcerned having the saddle on his back and even tightening up the girth.  J led him around the yard with it on, and he walked beautifully and seemed more concerned about the grass and the horses in the neighbouring fields!  Then we took his saddle off and J jumped up and just hung over his back for a few seconds.  He was a bit taken aback by the weight (not that she is heavy, lol!), and he turned his head to look at her and wanted to walk, but other than that he didn't seem upset or worried, and he stopped walking when I asked him, and J slid off and we all told him how clever he was!  He is an absolute poppet.

Luckily, he and Marco seem to get on quite well.  Diddi is quite a bossy horse, and Marco is the more submissive of the two; however, he's not averse to explaining things to Diddi when D gets on his nerves!  Marco is a bit concerned that D seems to have taken over his stable, and he sulks a bit when J spends time with D, but he gets more than enough fussing of his own to make up for it!  His leg is healing well, but is obviously itchy where the last bits of skin are healing over, so he keeps knocking off the scabs.  We put more cream on today, so hopefully that will help.  We also gave M his first dose of Pernamax, which is the new supplement we are going to try him on for his arthritis, so fingers crossed that it does a good job helping his mobility.  We fed it to him in bits of apple, having been warned that it has quite a strong taste that most horses don't like at first, and sure enough he spit a couple of pieces of apple out, but all of the pills went down in the end!

Today we took them out for a walk again, this time with J's greyhound, Sam, and despite J's mum having warned us that D liked to eat dogs, everyone was very well behaved!  D coped with two motorbikes and a HUGE motor-trike passing him on the road, plus bicycles, people doing LOTR style battle re-enactments (even M doesn't like them much - he's a bit wary of the swords!), and lots of dogs, and didn't turn a hair.  Sam wandered about quite happily, practically under D's feet, and D watched him a bit carefully to start with and was then totally unconcerned, and kept reaching down to slime Sam's back affectionately (or hungrily, we weren't sure which!).  At one point, he did take Sam's tail into his mouth and was nibbling it, but Sam didn't even notice.  Clearly he was checking whether greyhounds tasted good to eat!

After we got back, I showed J the work I had been doing with M in the dually halter - working on getting him happier about being hosed. 

Backstory: when M got caught in the barbed wire and cut his leg badly, the barn owner, who rescued him, tried to hose off his leg, and M freaked out and wouldn't go anywhere near.  Even when he was heavily sedated, he still refused to let himself be hosed.  Obviously, this isn't a great situation esp in cases of emergency - or even if we just wanted to give him a bath!  So, I wanted to try and work with him to get him happier about hoses and being hosed.  I've read a lot about natural horsemanship, and so I knew the basic principle of approach / retreat, and so I started off by finding a small piece of spare hose, and just getting M happy enough to touch it with his nose, and be touched by it.  I hung it over his stable door and moved it around a bit while scratching him, until he was happy to stand next to it, and not worried by it moving.  Then I went into his stable with him (this was when he was on box rest - so it was quite good to keep him occupied too) and got him used to it lying on the floor, moving about, up to the point where I could rub it all over him and he was happy.  This actually didn't take long.  I think it helped that in the stable, he could move his feet if he had to, but he was also pretty bored so was keen to come back and be near me.  That afternoon, I was helped by B at the stable, who has done some Monty Roberts training, and she showed me how to put on the dually halter and we worked with M getting used to a real hose that had water coming out of it. 

It was interesting, because he didn't look panicked at all, he just really didn't like it, and he was really determined that he wasn't having anything to do with the hose or the water.  The dually really helped because it meant that there wasn't any benefit to pulling strongly back, which is what he was doing previously.  And it made it really clear, that there was a benefit to moving forward towards the hose, which was the release of pressure on his nose. 

Since then, I've tried to practice this every time I'm down and we've got our routine pretty much down pat now!  He's not that enthusiastic about going near the hose, but I let him think about it, and release the pressure when he offers to move forwards, and we eventually make our way up to standing on top of the hose.  Then I turn the hose on and work up to hosing his legs, praising him lots when he stands still.  He's now pretty happy with having his front legs hosed (ie doesn't move), and will let me hose his shoulder, stomach and back without moving, but he's still pretty unhappy with having his back legs hosed.  However, we're slowly getting more and more moments of standing while the hose is on his back legs, though he does still try to lift them up out of the way.  But we've come a long way, and I'm really proud of him, and really pleased! 

And then we turned the boys out and spent some time poo-picking the fields!  It's really funny - I find poo-picking really peaceful!  There's something about the pleasure of seeing how quickly the field looks better, and something about the peace and quiet - although D thinks that wheelbarrows are really there for him to play with, so it's not _that_ peaceful!  It's just really satisfying!

All in all, a really lovely morning!


teadog1425: (Default)

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