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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 16/06/2005

I tend to write my blog late at night as Iím what my mother would call Ďa hooletí Ė someone who is more alive at night than in the morning. It can be a lonely business writing a blog and I often wonder as I write if it wouldnít be better to spend the time more productively. After all who has got time to read them? But in the past few weeks Iíve been surprised by the number of people who have been reading them, at least from time to time.

So Iím now convinced that at least three of you might have noticed that I havenít written as many blogs this week as previously. Thereís a very simple explanation for this. During the very times when I would have been tapping away on the keyboard Iíve been packing boxes as weíre having a new kitchen put in. This is an event which Iíve been trying to put off for years. When we moved into the house over eighteen years ago the surveyor noted that the kitchen was in need of being replaced. But Iíve resisted, not simply on grounds of cost but more because I couldnít be bothered with the upheaval and disruption. Plus I always had the sneaking suspicion that it was the type of purchase which people often think will change the quality of their lives when in fact it doesnít. And I was right. When I read Martin Seligmanís work I discovered that it has been empirically proven that external events Ė both good and bad Ė have less capacity to affect our happiness and life satisfaction than we think. That new kitchen may make us feel great for about six weeks or so while we are still Ďnew fangledí but we adapt to new circumstances and they quickly become just part of our normal life. Psychologists call this Ďthe hedonic treadmillí. So I finally gave in and agreed to get a new kitchen not because I have any illusions that it will improve my happiness or feelings of satisfaction but because of the hassle factor of an old broken down kitchen. So I donít think I will feel happier as a result of my new kitchen. Nor do I think that Iíll suddenly become more interested in cooking. But I might have to do less cleaning and have even more time to sit late at night putting my miscellaneous thoughts out into the ether.

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