Want To Be Happier? Watching "House" Might Help.

"House", a television series, delivers an important message.

Watching Season 5, Episode 14 "The Greater Good" that is. 

The episode features character Dana Miller, a medical doctor and researcher who, it is estimated, was 8 - 10 years away from finding a cure for retinoblastoma, a rapidly developing cancer of the eye. What is interesting about the episode is not that it features exotic diseases -- a must in all episodes of the show -- but rather one of its subplots: the pursuit of happiness.

Have you "done happy" yet?

Dr. Miller working as a sous-chef right before she is admitted to the hospital with a life threatening condition.

Every one of the regular team members, including House and his sidekick Wilson are surprised to learn that Dr. Miller left her research behind 8 months prior as a result of a medical scare. Her reason for swapping research to become a professional chef? She had not "done happy yet" because she had been too busy with school and then her research career -- doing the things she was supposed to do. Her reasoning was met with a full gamut of reactions. One character even goes so far as to chastise Dr. Miller for not pursuing the very important research, especially given she was making significant progress at the time of her departure.  

Here are some questions the show invites you to consider.

Dr. Miller discusses her choice to leave her research behind with Dr. Wilson.

I found the episode refreshing because the show's characters were each lead into personal introspection on the subject and the struggle was evident:

  • Were they happy with their life?
  • Was there anything missing?
  • Was there room for a demanding career and everything else you want in life?
  • If they had the choice, would they be doing anything different?
  • Would time spent not working be as valuable as staying in their current profession?

House character Chris Taub discusses the possibility of having children with his wife after having an exchange with Dr. Miller.

Small actions throughout hint at how their interaction(s) with this important and purposeful transient character influenced their own behaviour in important ways, at least in the short term. 

Your gut is usually right.

This powerful episode made it OK to challenge the fact that doing something important cannot be fulfilling if it is not what drives you. That current pursuit would be best left to someone who is driven by the activity, whatever it may be. I'm not talking about such a tall order as "finding your passion", a term that is much overused, especially when it comes to work. I am talking about listening to your gut as opposed to what society tells you you are supposed to be doing, especially when the rationale is the sunk cost of education and years in a given profession.

Know thyself.

No one can know what makes you tick as well as you do. Listening to it can result in life changes that make every day feel like you're living your life, not someone else's. And this way of thinking is not confined to career decisions. It also includes important choices about relationships, family, recreational and educational pursuits. The days won't necessarily be easy, lucrative or offer 100% clarity of purpose, but they will be more right than going through life knowing that what you are doing with your time every day is not a fit for you or, worse, makes you miserable.

So, in need a little introspection? I recommend sitting down in front of a screen of your choice for the mere 45 minutes it will take, assuming you only watch it once. It's worth the investment -- and not just for its entertainment value. Happy viewing.

What about you? Are you happy with your work and other interests? Have you left a career to pursue a new direction? Have you experienced a close call that made you reevaluate how you spend your time? 

Images are stills taken from a "House" Season 5, Episode 14, available on Netflix.