Can thinking deeply make us happy?

A recent, much emailed, piece in the New York Times by Roni Caryn Rabin, Talk Deeply, Be Happy? draws from a psychological study that found that people who talked more about substantive things in comparison to those who favored small talk, were actually happier than their surface-dwelling peers.

The researchers write, “Together, the present findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary, and conversationally deep rather than superficial.”  They conclude, “our findings suggest that people find their lives more worth living when examined―at least when examined together.”

The researchers acknowledge that the results are correlational and not causal, but I think it’s good enough to suggest that those of us who keep it real in our blogging either do so because we’re happier to start with, or end up happier as the result of risking being real—especially when we find others who connect and share back with us at the deeper levels of discourse.

When I think about what’s “deep,” sometimes I think about the cosmic dream we all co-create and which I strive to dream lucidly, trying to just roll with it… and when I do I am happy; but sometimes I think about old Saturday Night Live shows and Jack Handy (e.g. “To me, it’s always a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, ‘Hey, can you give me a hand?,’ you can say, ‘Sorry, got these sacks.'”)

As part of my parenting philosophy, I favor thinking deeply and then working practically and pragmatically; I’m trying to incorporate this into my blogging—respecting that you, the reader do not necessarily have time for my ramblings, but will nonetheless care and benefit if we can converse about what’s truly on our minds.

As I strive to learn that “deep” need not be loquacious, I’ll keep it short today—simply wishing that you, the reader who crosses these words, can trust that if anything real is on your mind (“deep” is subjective and relative, so let’s say that if you truly care about it, that’s deep enough), here you will find sincere interest in your comments, questions or feelings.

And for those who are more private by nature, let me know your true thoughts at: poptheworld – at – (I can’t quite use my ampersand for fear of legions of robotic spammers dragging the lake of these deep waters in order to intrude upon and monetize our wished-for authenticity and sell us Viagra).

As for deep thoughts, my mind drifts back to Jack Handy once again… “Probably to a shark, about the funniest thing there is is a wounded seal, trying to swim to shore, because WHERE DOES HE THINK HE’S GOING?!”

So, here’s to keeping it real—in the service of happiness and love for us and for all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

p.s. If you’re looking to go a little deep in the service of greater happiness, another option in case you missed it back in October, is my interview with the voice of SpongeBob, “Going Deep With The Sponge


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4 Responses to “Can thinking deeply make us happy?”

  1. joely Says:

    I believe too often than not it is easier to just be a blank. It is not something I practice , but something I observe. My observation is most apparent in the amount of time people watch TV and their children watch TV. What ever happened to just entertaining yourself with thought? I could go on forever on this topic and maybe I write a blog about it. But that study is right. Living your life in a shell, never having an original thought, is empty and boring. That could not be fullfilling to anyone. But how are younger generations going to fare in happiness when they only know how to look up someones else’s thoughts online or regurge what they heard on tv? Noone is learning to think “deep”, in fact, I dont think most kids learn how to think at all. God forbid they get bored: Stick them in front of the tv. I have to say, in my most boring moments: came my greatest thoughts.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Yes, it’s true that lying fallow, so to speak, is a very ripe time for creative ideas to emerge—I guess we need to make space to do nothing… and then get together and talk deeply about it 🙂

  2. Katrina Kenison Says:

    I read this article too, and was determined to have at least two “meaningful” conversations a day. So, I had a long chat with my 17 year old about smoking pot–which was heavy, and somewhat unsettling, though ultimately positive–and a family dinner discussion about health care reform and the disturbing tone of the debate. Can’t say either of these conversations exactly made me, or anyone else, happy, but they did reconnect us, and we ventured into some difficult areas together. It is easy to skim the surface, a challenge to go deep. But we don’t do our kids any favors by avoiding the hard stuff; how much better to model for them a life in which no subject is “off limits.”

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Agreed. I was lucky to have several meaningful chats as my clients are typically ready to get real. Then at dinner my wife Andy and I ended up talking about the notion that just being a good person might be more than adequate as compared with proving ourselves along the more traditional metrics such as making money or having a more delineated career. We ended up feeling that we just want to spend more time around kids, animals and grown-ups… as to how to really contribute without buying too far into the old paradigms (while still being able to pay the bills)… that seems like one of the key questions with which we collectively struggle. Feel like I’m rambling, but at least we’re keeping it real, right?

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