Even if Penelope Trunk has stopped talking about happiness research, I am still interested in figuring out what makes me happy. I got a big hint when I took the Meyers-Briggs test (INTJ all the way). I have learned more about keeping my “emotional acre” sustainable here in Doha than in any other time in college.
This week, I had to decide whether I would stay a member of the Doha Singers (the major adult expat vocal group in Doha, whose performance is after I leave and whose rehearsals conflict with my life) or go to a professor’s house to play German board games for 3 hours. I chose the board games, not because the Doha Singers is not a valuable experience, but because it was a boring one for me (and I am singing 3 principal roles in the musical and have rehearsal about every day, so I am meeting my daily singing quota for Doha). I was bored because I know how choirs work, and this community choir was pleasant but not challenging. For me, gaming is an intellectually intense activity than drilling the same dozen songs (though I will miss singing “What Will We Do with a Drunken Sailor” in six-part harmony).
I have also started going by professor’s offices when I have free time, to talk about ideas for the class or even those that only relate tangentially. This adds a personal dimension to my classes which I find stimulating and keeps me engaging with the material because I now feel personally responsible to the professor to contribute.
Every semester, I get into a groove with classes and fall into a mid-semester malaise. I stop having to grow to meet professors’ expectations and so get tired of school. Here I feel more flexibility to give up options, to try out new things to keep myself learning in school. When I am happiest, I am like a pin-ball in a grooved maze, suddenly tipped to an angle–I swoop from groove to groove, jumping across to reach a path which channels my momentum. I am happiest when I am jumping grooves.
Wish me luck for tomorrow: I am basically biking with a large group across Qatar. Something new!
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”-Abraham Lincoln