How the pursuit of happiness can hide the experience of inspiration.
We all want to be happy, and we all want to be inspired. But what if the pursuit of happiness blocks the arousal of inspiration?
Thank God It's Tuesday
Todd Thrash, a professor of psychology at Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary, is a leading researcher on the scientific study of inspiration. A few years ago, Thrash stumbled onto something fascinating: He had rounded up a group of people and tracked how inspired they were, and how happy they were, on each day of the week. He discovered that people are happier on Fridays than they are on Mondays. Okay, so that may not be the most shocking thing that we all have heard.
But what about inspiration?
It turns out that even though people are most likely to feel happy on Fridays, they are also least likely to feel inspired on Fridays. So on what day of the week are people most inspired? The same day that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. The same day that Mark Zuckerberg says he created Facebook. Possibly the most forgettable day of the week—Tuesday—is the king of inspiration. And not just by a little bit: The study found that inspiration is 79% more likely to occur on a Tuesday than on a Friday.
Friday is a day for fun. It's the day we cut loose from the cares of the work week and have a good time. It's a day devoted to pursuing happiness—and that's a good thing.
Tuesdays are different. On Tuesdays, we find ourselves in the thick of the work week, immersed in the challenging and inconvenient and stressful stuff of everyday life. It's a day for making things happen. That's also a good thing.
Sometimes the pursuit of happiness inhibits inspiration. If we spend too much time fantasising about Fridays, we can miss the unexpected joy of Tuesdays.
Many of the most inspired moments of our lives happen in the muck and mire of mid-week stress, when life is most challenging—when we're labouring to finish an important project at work, rallying a response to an unexpected dip in sales, begrudgingly accepting the coaching job for our kid's soccer team, eating up our leisure time by lending a hand or a heart to people in need, or simply helping a neighbour lug a comically oversized couch up four flights of stairs.
Let's all take the time to enjoy the journey, even if it may be a small weekly one like enjoying a Tuesday. Let's stop wishing the week away and waiting for Friday. Let's seize the day, the inspiration, and look forward to Tuesday!!