A patient is in a nursing home, no longer able to walk, in a lot of pain,and has multiple health problems. I'm thinking that she is going to be terribly depressed. Instead, she tells me how blessed she is and she seems to be truly happy. I've experienced this so many times I am no longer surprised.

When people experience a loss, they usually experience some grieving or depression, which may last for hours or months. Then they typically revert to their previous level of happiness. In nursing homes, for a few months most are "grieving" over their loss of health, independence, privacy, and palatable food. Then they start reverting to their baseline or normal level of happiness (or unhappiness). The extreme optimists don't even experience the grieving, they are grateful to still be alive and appreciate how wonderful the staff are (which in turn makes them the staff's favorite patients).

Consider Christopher Reeves. After his accident, he went through a period of depression. Logically, we might expect him to be miserable the rest of his life. Though, initially not even able to breathe without mechanical help, his upbeat personality reemerged and he adopted a determination to talk and walk. He also took a leadership position in fundraising.

The phenomenon isn't limited to health problems and loss. Lottery winners are on a high for several months and then revert to their previous level of happiness or unhappiness. Boston Red Socks fans thought heaven had arrived when they broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series. After a few weeks, life returned to normal. Graduation bliss lasts a few weeks. Marital bliss typically lasts for several months.

So the good news is that even if bad things happen to you, after awhile, you will be happy again. You have happiness insurance and the premiums were free. How can you up your baseline for happiness? That's the topic of another article.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Michael Brickey, America’s preeminent Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include: Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs. Visit www.DrBrickey.com for a free report on anti-aging secrets and his free Defy Aging Newsletter with practical anti-aging tips. Hear him interview leading anti-aging experts and/or read the interview transcripts with the anti-aging experts.

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