Linsanity: how happiness conquers defeat

If I shout the name "Jeremy Lin" on the street, nowadays, I am sure thousands of folks could immediately be gathered. In the past months, the craze for Jeremy Lin sweeps not only NBA fans but also non-fans, not only Americans but also people around the globe.

Compare with other NBA stars, Lin passed through quite a lot of setbacks in his career. He was turned downed by his dream schools for athletic scholarships, and was only able to obtain a partially guaranteed contract after college graduation. Thereafter, he was assigned to D-League three times and waived by two teams. Not until February this year, did he start to draw the world's attention when he led a winning streak in the Knicks.

Given the repeated frustrations in his early career, people, not surprisingly, take great interest in his persistence in the pursuit of basketball. In an interview, Lin revealed, "I play to pursue enduring happiness, not the instant thrill of winning."

Yes, happiness! In the study of happiness, positive psychologists discussed two constituents of happiness: pleasure and gratification. Pleasure arises when we experience the thrill of sensory stimulation or the surge of delight such as the time when we are tasting ice-cream, singing karaoke with friends or riding on a roller coaster; all these entertainments bring a period of joyful feelings, yet, they are relatively short-lived and the intensity would likely decay with habituation.

Whereas, gratification refers to the feeling when we are fully engaged in some goal-directed tasks, such as finishing a puzzle, graduating from a degree program or publishing a novel. These activities are not necessarily pleasant and require a long period of concentration and devotion. Yet, the gratifying feelings are usually more enduring and lingering through once life.

Linsanity, Lincredible, Linderella are some of the terms coined to describe Lin's becoming of an NBA star. The craze for Lin is not only a mere regard for a sport or for a person. It probably represents people's quest for the senses of devotion and commitment one could have in his life pursuit.

 What kind of happiness are you going after? Have you discovered your life pursuit?


Suggested reading:

Martin Seligman (2002) Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.