24 January 2007

The World's Happiest Guinea Pig

Matt Lange, drinkin' up all the
f-in' Sunny Delite.


Now I've gone and done it. I went and signed up to be a participant in a gen-u-wine psychological experiment being conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. You may know U Penn as the home of the Quakers football team (I shitteth thee not, friend) who finished the ought-six season with a peaceful, fair and equitable 5 and 5 record against such college gridiron giants as Yale, Harvard, and the Bucknell School of Yeoman Faggot-Making. Quaker football, it appears is a veritable juggernaut of mediocrity.

But you may not know the other U Penn, home of Dr. Martin E P ("Ever Publishing") Seligman, former head of the American Psychological Association and me-proclaimed Jolliest Fucker In The Universe. He's a positive psychology maverick-slash-edifice he is, and one of my personal heros. The Authentic Happiness Website resides deep in the sunny heart of the U Penn InterWebs, and is a swell place to get a well-rounded view of what the hell all this positive psychology stuff is about.

Best of all, you can sign up as a research participant for authentic happiness studies there. If you go to the website, there's a jolly little banner in the left column asking for participants that practically begs you to click it. Of course I could not resist, and better yet did not resist, and so here I am. They gave me an assignment which I have been pursuing semi-diligently ever since. Here it is in a nutshell: (Copyright 2006 Martin Seligman, all rights reserved, I'm jolly but don't make me come down there and kick your ass you goddamn plagiarist, world without end, amen.)

It's called ABCDE. It's a journaling exercise. First you think back on an Adversity that occurred during the day and write it down. Then you write down your pessimistic Beliefs about the event, and write down the Consequences that you suffered because of those beliefs. Then you Dispute those beliefs using specific, concrete evidence, and in the end describe the Energization that you felt as a result of disputing your beliefs.Let me give you an example. For purposes of illustration, I will pretend that I am my friend Matt "Douchebag' Lange of Buffalo, New York (go Bills).

Adversity: My fuckin' sister drank all the fuckin' Sunny Delite again.

Beliefs: She doesn't fuckin' care if I fuckin' die of thirst and scurvy. Where's the fuckin' love?
Consequences: I got really angry and decided to take revenge by taking all her fuckin' diet pills and washing them down with her fuckin' half-rack of Tab.
Dispute: Oh wait. There's the Sunny Delite. It was behind the Tab. How wrong I was. And I just ate all that... Uh oh...

See? Pretty simple. I don't know if it was because of this exercise or whether it's the nexus of all of the three exercises that I'm doing simultaneously that has caused me to chill ever-so-slightly over the last couple months. It's not that I don't get mad. I do. It's just of much shorter duration with long periods of chill in between. I got mad as a wet hen covered with wet hornets on Monday, but it only lasted exactly 17 minutes. For comparison, I once got angry in 1977 and stayed mad until 1983. This is a big improvement.I'll keep you posted on further developments.

In the meantime, go visit the Authentic Happiness site and take a few of the tests. You may find out that you're happier than you think.