Friday, December 08, 2006

Set Point Theory

I woke up this morning feeling unexpectedly a bit better. I'm not sure why. I didn't sleep well, but I felt semi-refreshed. I felt purposeful. I felt a bit happier.

Now, there are two things happening in my life behind this small lift in mood. One is, I am going on holiday. We haven't been able to afford to go on holiday for quite some time, but now we are. A friend of ours whose family owns a holiday home by the lake has invited us over for a week and my mum has offered us the use of her car to get there. So the holiday is practically free!

And I love that house by the lake. I used to go there from time to time, years ago, and I have a lot of memories there. The last time I went there was after our first few cycles of unsuccessful fertility treatment. I was feeling quite drained and down. But something about the beauty and calm of the place, the stillness of the lake, soothed me. It made me think of that Yeats poem:

And I shall have some peace there
For peace comes dropping slow

No one who is going on holiday with a toddler gets to just do nothing. But as far as possible, I will do nothing next week. And two of my friends from my old intentional community live locally and I will be so happy to see them. You know those old friends you have, the ones who you feel so comfortable with and can have long, rambling, lazy conversations with? They are those type of friends.

And another good thing is happening. We have our new house! As I mentioned previously, we are planning to move into a semi-communal arrangement with my mum, with us paying her rent to live in the main house and her in the granny flat. She has bought the house and, oh, it's so lovely. Not at all flashy, but everything immaculate and so sunny and pretty. Right near (but not too near) a very good school and a small shopping area and a little cafe that seems like a great place to chill out and with a lovely natural bushy area just beyond the back yard. It makes my heart lift, just to think about it. Settlement is this week and we will be moving in in January.

I'm sure you can imagine how glad I am to have these happy things to think about. And my plan to see a counsellor, I think, is helping as well. I do like to have a plan.

But really, I am wondering something else. Because during this time I have been feeling so unutterably crap, these good things were happening and it was like I just couldn't see them.

A friend of mine wrote to me not long ago about set point theory in relation to body weight - the idea that your body tends to establish a particular weight range that is largely maintained when you have semi-reasonable eating and exercise habits. It has been proposed as the reason why the body responds to dieting by lowering our metabolism so that we regain weight, often with a bit extra, almost as soon as we stop dieting.

Sometimes I wonder if a person has an emotional set point. I have a few friends who struggle with depression - not just feeling down in response to hard times, but that free-floating, probably biologically based tendency to get depressed and stay there for a long time. I have almost the opposite kind of tendency. I tend to be mostly happy, although not euphoric, and start feeling down almost entirely in response to circumstances. But even in hard circumstances, after a little while, I start to bounce up again. Not in a manic, bi-polar, extreme kind of way. I do not bounce very high. But something inside me just seems to have an impulse towards happiness and tells me to please pull myself together and cheer the fuck up. I sort of talk myself into feeling a bit better. I'm resilient.

I think I might be lucky in that. Another reason to cheer the fuck up.

So I wouldn't say I was happy now. But I'm happier.


Blogger C-Marie said...

And I am happy for you!!!

4:44 PM  
Blogger LePhare said...

There's a lot of things going on in your life at the moment. The holiday will do you good and try to grab some time for yourself. You'll need to re-charge, especially with the move in the New Year. Hope you have a great time.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Just Me said...

I am intrigued by your emotional set point theory. I will have to ponder it more. I wish you laughter and more hope this holiday!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

We all need some change at times, a vacation, a change of scenery, a new house, a chance to recharge our physical / mental / emotional batteries. Being happy is purely relative, emotionally speaking, and solely internal - all within one's self and how life is viewed.

6:01 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

And i am glad for you Lady! Saludos, y feliz viaje!

6:59 PM  
Blogger Digger Jones said...

Well, if you think of moods being part of your biochemistry, it makes sense that you would have a natural comfort zone.

It also makes sense that you would rebound after a bout of depression. Your mind and body simply need a rest from being in one position for long periods of time.


7:22 PM  
Blogger freebird said...

Isn't it great to have things to look forward to!

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope happier turns into real happiness very soon.

8:52 AM  
Blogger trueself said...

Interesting theory on the emotional set point, hadn't really thought of it that way.

BTW, I've tagged you over on my blog to list 6 weird things about yourself. Drop by my blog to see my list and the instructions for the meme.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anais said...

Yes, there is such a thing as an emotional set point. See, for instance:,8816,1015832-1,00.html

11:24 PM  

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