poo and happiness

April 12, 2007

I had long suspected a connection between poo and happiness. This realisation gradually dawned on me over more than a year of changing nappies for two in addition to (and preceded by) caring for Ellie the Funt.

My suspicions were first confirmed by the sensational recent Australian movie, Kenny in which our protagonist is a Porta-Loo manager, happy as a pig in mud. He is really doing the world an essential service, and has a sense of purpose and importance. And so he should. After all human waste is ubiquitous and someone really needs to maintain those systems for dealing with it.

My natural reaction to poo is, like anyone’s, a normal “eww, yucky” feeling on first encountering the poo. God forbid, you don’t want to get it on your fingers. But the encounter is also strangely grounding. To come face to face (or face to bottom) with the waste products of one’s children does something to one’s sense of connectedness, somehow.

And last night on the SBS program, Insight, with my hero Jenny Brockie my suspicions were confirmed. It’s a fantastic talkback TV program that deals with interesting topics superbly and last night’s topic was, would you believe it “Happiness“. And the champion case example of happiness, was, would you believe a sewerage worker. I have forgotten the guy’s name. But he exhibited all the core features of happiness: a sense of purpose, a sense of connection to others, involvement in one’s work etc…

And for me, a penny dropped, another link in the chain. I’m starting to think I’m onto something, the association of poo and happiness.

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3 Responses to “poo and happiness”

  1. Blue Athena Says:

    This showed up in my blog surfer, from he psychology tag, I think. When I saw the title I thought it had to be on the same topic I just wrote on — the woman who was saved from a 6 story fall by a pile of poo. So I was surprised to click in here and find another twist on the idea of good things found in …well…yucky places.

    I don’t have kids so I had to read your post twice. As the uninitiated, I find it hard to accept that this could be a positive experience. But then I also thought of a recent article I read on how dirt exposure boosts happiness:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6509781.stm

    But your idea is a bit less chemical.

    And you know what, the only sewer worker “I ever met WAS happy. I think you may have something with the jobs connected to the world idea. I’ve wondered about taking up a more real or “solid” or “material” career myself. Not necessarily sewage, mind you…

    Maybe there are a few pieces to this puzzle. Or, as you say, links in the chain.

  2. pluckymama Says:

    I know that your bowels and your stress part of your brain are really connected that’s why IBS people suffer a lot when stressed. Also if you don’t poo regularly, your ability to make good decisions is hindered. Definitely the act of pooing leads to happiness, I always feel better :).

  3. sonael Says:

    Thanks for your comments!

    I was thinking more about this, and realised that it’s a similar kind of happiness that comes from exercise, or housework. You don’t look forward to cleaning up the poo and you don’t particularly enjoy doing it, but there is a sense of satisfaction and happiness afterwards. Maybe poo connects us to the cycle of life somehow and reminds us that life is about small and simple acts.

    This is the opposite effect to hedonistic pleasures or narcissistic achievements, which tend to leave the person feeling empty afterwards and needing more to remain happy.

    However! maybe I’m just cr**ping on, hehe!

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