The hiring of Jim Harbaugh, last December, has resulted in many Michigan alumni throughout the country feeling happy. However, has the feeling of being happy, resulted in a state of happiness for the Michigan faithful? Would a 10 season won and loss record bring happiness? Or, would, a victory over Ohio State result in a more permanent state of happiness? Likely, none of these events would bring a long-term state of happiness. That’s not to say, that these events would not bring a momentary smile or joy to the face of the alumni [a vicarious experience, but not resulting in a catharsis] as many identify with the Maize and Blue for a number of reasons, i.e. achievement, excellence, power, an elite public university and past gridiron greatness. However, it takes more than an identification with a prestigious institution to result in developing a more permanent or long-lasting state of personal happiness.
Research focusing on long-term happiness has become popular; especially the work of Dr. Martin Seligman. To Illustrate, some of the ideas from his “happiness” research are as follows: 1. Most people can be happy, but it takes work to focus on the positive emotions and behavior that make a good life. 2. Most people are resilient and can survive the bad things that happen to them. 3. Money plateaus as a factor in happiness and making money makes an ever diminishing contribution to subjective well-being, but money can buy happiness if it was spent on other people. 4. Happiness is a cause of good things in life. People, people who are satisfied with life eventually have even more reason to be satisfied, because happiness leads to desirable outcomes at school, work, or fulfilling social relationships, and both good health and long life. 5. Happiness is not the result of luck.
And, viewing happiness from another point of view, Dr. Dan Baker has written about a list of things that happy people don’t do. For example, some of his “don’t do’s” include the following: 1. Happy people don’t blame other people for their problems [Was it Brady Hooke’s fault for Michigan’s poor 2014 season?] 2. Happy people don’t overreact to the present moment. [Was it awful that Shane Morris was put back into the Minnesota game after his concussion?]. 3. Happy people don’t focus on a single passion or relationship. [This suggests that it is better to have more than the University of Michigan football in your life]. 4. Happy people don’t dwell on past failures. [In the last 10 years, Michigan hasn’t played well against Ohio State-that’s not your problem] and 5. Happy people don’t spend more time than necessary around unhappy people [This does not mean you should spend more time with Ohio State Buckeyes alumni-or maybe you should but only if they are they are happy individuals
From these ideas, it obviously takes more to create a state of a happiness than being a recipient to the winning of a football game or football games. In other words, the idea of developing happiness has more to do with one’s overt behavior, participating, creating and in being productive and active as opposed to being a mere passive receptor at a sporting event. It means taking control over things that one can control like oneself. Certainly, wishing, or wanting the Wolverines to score that touchdown are simply thoughts; but we have absolutely no control over the outcome, even if we yell, scream, or stamp our feet.
In fact, some research has shown that while watching “the game” we may be prone to eat and drink more unhealthy foods and even get into automobile accidents when our team loses. But there’s no research that I’ve come upon that suggests that when our team wins that in turn results and changes the overall satisfaction with our life. Of course, the immediate joy of an upset victory over the rival is passively experienced, but it doesn’t seem to last although the pleasant memory might. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t support the Wolverines or any other sporting team.
What it does mean, is that it is significant to find and perform activities in your life that give special meaning, and that includes in creating good social relationships. To watch a game with friends is fun and joyful since you can banter back and forth about the good plays and the bad plays that happen during the game. And, it is important to remember, that happiness is not the result of luck, as it certainly could be in the outcome of the game; but instead in pursuing positive thinking and behaviors about your life experiences during your lifetime.
So, Jim Harbaugh, bring happiness to your life and to your young warriors. Because it is through your involvement, with teaching, learning, practicing and playing those games on Saturday that you can set the foundation or framework for present and future happiness in those that you encounter. Winning and more importantly, instilling a sense of teamwork, kinship and the importance of being part of a team are important for developing a foundation for an emotional state of happiness.
Go Blue Go!