14 January 2007

Happiness, Pt. 3: Hey, This Shit Works!

Vincent Van Gogh's Moleskine notebook.
For years, creative nutbags the world over have
used the Moleskine notebook to record the erratic
pulsations of their nut-gland. Hey, if it's good enough
for low-life chumps like Hemingway and

Picasso, it's good enough for this low-life chump right


You know about my "happiness" experiment, right - the one where I take a moment before I go to bed each night to write down three things that made me happy that day in my Moleskine notebook. The effects have been remarkable. First, I sleep much more soundly and dream more. (I might sleep even more soundly if I weren't quite so vain, and didn't spend a few mornings each week turning my chest and forearms into throbbing bands of blazing soreness. That's the only thing that interrupts my sleep at the moment. Still, that's better than being shocked awake by nightmares of long division as though demons were hurling ice-balls filled with math at my groin. Am I a little disturbed? Oh mais oui.)

Second, when I do get angry or upset, it's for a much shorter time. In fancier and more science-y terms, the amplitude of the emotion seems to be about the same as it always was, but the refractory period seems to be a heck of a lot shorter. I'm talking about ten to fifteen minutes as opposed to a couple hours or half a freakin' day. Furthermore, whereas the same little things seem to irk me, the episode of irksomeness, the inclination toward irkitude, and the wildly arcing parabola of irkotasticity all seem to be lessened a great deal. Or there is greater time when I feel less of it. In other words, I'm feeling more of that less pissed off feeling. You get my point.

I made another discovery about how this exercise works completely by accident. On a couple of occasions, I choked and forgot to write down my list of three before I went to bed, so I did it when I got up in the morning instead. Lo and behold, doing the exercise first thing in the morning instead of last thing in the evening has a tonic effect on my mood as well. It seems to impart a general feeling of optimism that lasts through most of the day. When I went back to school in 2001, I discovered that whatever I studied first thing in the morning kind of got "stuck in my head" - pretty much the same way a song gets "stuck in my head" if I think of it first thing in the morning. Perhaps this has happened to you. (Try not to think of "ABC" by the Jackson 5. Whoops! Now it's stuck in your head! See what I mean? Now go listen to some Edgard Varese until it goes away.)

So knowing that, here's a new twist I'm gonna add to the exercise. I'm gonna get another Moleskine notebook, this one for the morning. Every morning when I get up, I'm going to write down three things that I have to look forward to that day. Nothing will be too small, although I'll try to keep it realistic and attainable. Like I don't think it's too constructive to look forward to curing all disease that day or attaining perfect enlightenment by noon although, hey, it could happen. However, getting a really good workout, finishing my tax return or having a really tasty new scone will all be candidate events of equal importance. (I found a cherry almond scone that completely kicks ass. It may also give me superpowers. Although I'm not sure if it's the scone itself or the scone in conjunction with heavy doses of my Super Black drip coffee that give me the ability to fly* and fold space.) Likewise, if I don't achieve any or all of the things on my list, that's okay too. This isn't supposed to be a "to do" list. It's just a list of possibilities - some things that would be nice if they happened, but aren't going to cause me disappointment if they don't. I'll let you know how that one works out.

And finally, another pleasing discovery. Speaking of my notebook, it turns out that Moleskine is pronounced "MOH-leh-SKEE-nuh", and not pronounced like that other word that refers to either those pads Dad used to put on his corns or the pelt of a tiny burrowing varmint. Now when I refer to my notebook by name, I'll sound more like a smarty-pants intellectual and less like a backyard fur trader.



*I can too fly, dammit! It's just that I can never get cleared for takeoff by any of the candy-ass flight controllers at Boeing Field. They keep telling me a I need an "airplane" and "serious time in therapy". Bastards.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought you were talking about this Super Black - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069332/

Thaddeus Gunn said...

No, that's what I meant by "fly".

Anonymous said...

Tangentially related: the wife and I have been buying up Moleskines like they are going out of style (yeah, fat chance, that) recently. So far, I've purchased a notepad one (report style) and a sketchbook one, while she purchased a watercolor tablet. The idea being that we'll use them on our Big Trip™.

Perhaps, I shall try your technique while on our Big Trip™. Note though, that I won't try it before... since now is the time for me to stress, fret and worry about things. It's just the way it is. Sleep be damned.