Enough moping around about the poisonous cocktail of job loss, pay cuts, scarce credit and foreclosure that has probably already colored your 2010 blue. Time for a quiz.
Answer the following statements with a number between 1 (not at all true) and 7 (absolutely true).
? In most ways my life is close to ideal.
? The conditions of my life are excellent.
? I am satisfied with my life.
? So far I have gotten the most important things I want in life.
? If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
How’d you do?
• 5 means you’re “extremely dissatisfied” with your life.
• 20 is “neutral.”
• 30 and up is “extremely satisfied.”
The quiz above is a tool psychologists have been using for years to assess happiness—and though 1980, when it was devised, wasn’t exactly the best of times, it wasn’t 2010, either. And though you may not like the recession, you’re actually more likely to be OK than not, positive psychologist and George Mason University professor Todd Kashdan says.
“A larger number of people tend to be resilient [rather] than falling apart,” Kashdan says. “We’re much more resilient than we think we are,” he adds. “But resilient doesn’t mean you’re not stressed—it means that tends to be in the short term.”
Kashdan says when financial disaster hits, the best thing we can do for ourselves is focus on social relationships and the things we do have.
“I’m not saying money’s not incredibly important for happiness,” Kashdan says, “but it’s only important because we’re able to buy the experiences that are meaningful to us. When you focus on experiences, you find a lot of things you don’t need money for.”
Santa Fe psychotherapist Teresa Bevin says Santa Feans are already good at that.
“This is a place where probably people are better equipped to manage recession,” Bevin says. “You can do bartering; people are more willing to, you know, ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine,’” she says.
Bevin, who moved here from Washington, DC, in 2006, says her own attitude changed when she saw the mountains and breathed the fresh air. (Campy as it sounds, you know it’s true.)
“People from Santa Fe are very, very good at surviving,” Bevin says. “I find a lot more creativity here.”
Now just imagine how extremely satisfied we’d be if we could fix our own potholes.