Life Lessons from the Sims: Secrets to Happiness, Sim-style

Jack

I’m not quite feeling like me, walking around with a grin on my face, but I’m starting to like the feeling of sore cheeks.

I’m surprised, and a little delighted, by how easy it is to keep my Sims happy in TS4. Even my mooch-off-your-neighbor Sim (the drifter), who hasn’t a home to his name, and my Room-Challenge Sim (Henrietta Davida Thoreau), who lives a solitary life on an 8×8 lot, are nearly always happy!

I’m also surprised, and a little delighted, by how happy I’ve been, consistently on a day-to-day basis, since I’ve started playing TS4 in September.

This gets me to reflecting on what makes our Sims happy and how this applies to living happy, fulfilled lives.

Secret #1: Keep the fun meter full.

For my Sims and me, a full fun meter makes everything easier. Need to fix a leaky sink? No problem! Play some blic-block first, then tackle it. Need to head out to work in a few hours? Take some time to listen to music, read a good book, hang out in the garden, or play a game of chess first. All the work tasks and interactions with co-workers will benefit from the boost you gain from a full fun meter.

This is a technique that my boyfriend helped me discover back when we were young adults. We’ve always made fun a priority, and it helps with everything, from making a meal to filling out tax forms. Play first, then work. (The play some more!)

Cupcake

A pleasant conversation can set any day right!

Secret #2: Enjoy pleasant conversations.

Pleasant conversations may seem trivial or even minor, but the pleasant conversation moodlet has a powerful effect! Not only does conversing fill the social meter, it also brings happiness. One of the most useful aspects of pleasant conversations is that Sims can have them even with Sims they’ve just met! If Sims are too busy to maintain friendships, the possibility of gaining happiness from a pleasant conversation still exists.

Noticing the strong positive effect of pleasant conversations on my Sims has helped me appreciate the pleasant conversations that fill my life. Since my own proclivities tend more towards valuing deep conversations and time spent working on creative projects, I’ve often under-valued the time I spend conversing pleasantly with others, feeling that we should talk about something more profound, or that I should really get back to the project waiting for me. But when I think of that big smiley moodlet my Sims get from a pleasant conversation, I can feel that big smiley moodlet inside of me after a few minutes chatting with my office-mate. And, judging from the smile on her face, she’s feeling it, too!

Pleasant conversations are easy to have, available almost any time others are around, and bring noticeable benefits to all the participants!

Jack

A great way to relieve tension and bring that “well-cared-for” moodlet!

Secret #3: Take a shower!

My Sims use showers to de-stress, relaxing from the tensions of the day. After a shower, I’ve noticed that many of my Sims will get that “well-cared for” moodlet, which can easily bring them into the “very happy” category.

Every morning, my boyfriend takes a shower, and he’s happy at the breakfast table. I take a shower each evening when I get back from the office, and the hot water washes away all the tangled coding from my mind. Who cares about office politics once the stream of hot water has washed them away?

Secret #4: Get plenty of sleep.

This one is so obvious! Our Sims can’t be happy on low energy, and neither can we! I’m thankful for every good night’s sleep, knowing that when I wake, yesterday’s worries will seem trivial–or at least manageable!

I-dub

Yum! Roast chicken!

Secret #5: Enjoy your meals.

My Sims who are foodies and gluttons get such strong happiness boosts after delicious meals, but even my non-foodie, nibbler Sims feel happier after a good meal.

In my life, my boyfriend and I eat healthy, organic, largely vegetarian diets–and we’ve always loved to eat and have seen our diet as a means for promoting our health and energy. We have a lot of fun creating and eating delicious meals! Just now, we’ve got a chicken soup simmering on the stove, and we’re both feeling a little happy buzz knowing that in an hour or so, we’ll be sitting down to a delicious meal that will support us with all our activities that make up a fun Sunday afternoon! (It takes a lot of energy to keep that fun meter full by sitting around playing Sims, playing chess online, and watching movies!)

So far, I’ve just been circling clockwise through the needs meter (I’ll skip bladder, since it’s a necessity and only has a negative effect on happiness if ignored.). Is happiness as simple as caring for basic needs?

For our Sims, it seems that yes, it is! As long as my Sims take care of their basic needs, they’re happy.

We humans seem to need a bit more, and here’s where traits come in.

Forrest

For a music lover, few things bring greater joy than playing music. And for a music-lover who loves the outdoors, an al fresco concert is just the thing!

Secret #6: Work with your traits.

Sims’ traits influence which activities will fill their fun meters, and they bring powerful moodlets that boost happiness, too.

I’ve read that TS4 Sims don’t gain fun while painting, yet several of my creative Sims find painting to be one of the quickest routes to a full fun meter.

As in life, fun has an individual component.

In my life, choosing activities that fit my traits is perhaps my biggest key to maintaining and building happiness.

I’m creative, an art lover, and a music lover, so I need to cook meals, plant seeds, write, complete creative projects at the office, draw, paint, and listen to and play music in order to feel alive. Without these activities on a daily basis, I wither and life feels so boring. I don’t need to do each of these activities each day, but I definitely need to spend time with at least a few of them every day in order to thrive.

As a bookworm, if I’m not currently reading a novel, play, collection of poems, biography, or work of nonfiction, life feels dull and incomprehensible to me. With an active reading list, I move from a life of black-and-white into a life of color.

As a loner, I need ample solitude, and as one who loves the outdoors, if I don’t spend time outside in a garden or natural environment every day, I don’t feel alive.

With the Sim-good trait, I thrive when those around me are happy, and when they’re sad, I am, too.

Both active and lazy, I need to walk or do yoga every day to feel happy, and I relish naps!

People have more than three traits! What are yours and how does fulfilling them contribute to your daily happiness?

There’s more to life than happiness. What about gloomy Sims? Gloomy Sims show us that happiness isn’t everything. Through gloomy Sims, we see the depth that comes from fully experiencing the sadness of life. Gloomy Sims show us, too, that all moods, even a gloomy Sim’s sadness, are temporary, and can easily settle behind an overlay of happiness.

Happy Cedar

There’s beauty all around us!

Secret #7: Enjoy your environment.

Those who love the outdoors easily feel happy in natural surroundings, and art lovers feel happy when viewing beautiful works of art, but all Sims feel happiness boosts from beautiful environments.

This is something we can enjoy in our daily lives, too. Living in a beautiful part of the country (which is a lot like Oasis Springs, in some ways), I can look out my office window at a range of mountains. The sky is always dancing with clouds, wind, sun, and deep shades of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, or yellow. Flowers, birds, butterflies, trees, grasses, shrubs are always in sight. On any given day, joy comes to me from a spot of beauty in the environment around me.

What about romance? Romance can enhance a Sim’s happiness. I love to see one of my Sims-in-love walking around with a huge grin on his or her face. And in life, I know that for the past 34 years, my daily happiness has been boosted from living with my boyfriend. But romance isn’t essential to happiness, unless a Sim (or person) has the romantic trait. Single Sims and single people can be just as happy as those in romantic relationships, and sometimes even happier (see this article for support)!

What about aspirations and whims? Sims can be quite happy without fulfilling aspirations and whims. While aspiration reward points do provide for reward traits that can deliver significant benefits to a Sim’s daily life, a Sim’s happiness is not dependent upon the fulfillment of aspirations and whims. In fact, when I drive a Sim too hard to complete aspirations and whims I often end up with a very unhappy Sim.

For people, it’s not so simple. Most people need more than the experience of daily happiness or their lives begins to feel empty, void of purpose and meaning. And this is where our aspirations fit in. As we fulfill those activities that give our lives meaning and as we work for our long-term goals, our deeper happiness increases. But this is a topic for a future “Life Lesson from the Sims.”

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