how to be happy (beginner level advice)
I’m a pretty happy person.
When I look at everything involved in my life, I would be hard-pressed to justify why I am happy. I just am. Take for instance my writing. A bit of an epiphenomenal abstraction I’ll grant you, but that in and of itself, in a very snake swallowing its tail kind of way, perhaps explains why I’m happy.
Look at that last sentence. A fucking train wreck of a sentence… and yet…
If you take it apart, put some effort into it, it goes a long way in explaining why I’m happy.
It’s certainly not because this is a popular website. When I tell you almost nobody ever visits I’m not being modest. In fact, saying “almost nobody” might be an exaggeration.
Sometimes it’s actually nobody. It’s a miracle you’re even reading this (but more on that later).
And don’t labor under the false delusion that I think my writing is brilliant and that I’m cranking out undiscovered gems here. I don’t.
I’m about to hurl another self-published book into the abyss this month and I know very few people will read it. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I like the idea that somewhere someone I will never meet will read it. The strange ideas that I get in my head will make it into someone else’s imagination and they will do with them as they will. It’s the closest thing to magic that I know of.
And that makes me happy.
I know a lot of writers who are much better than I am at turning a phrase or evoking a mood or being pithy or avoiding run-on sentences, and yet some of them are unhappy. Some of them crushingly so.
And it’s not just writing, it’s any number of other endeavors. Some of them are much younger than I am or better looking or smarter and they don’t use run-on sentences or engage in running gags. They will expend great amounts of energy pointing out the myriad of perfectly reasonable arguments for why things suck and their logic is unassailable. Aren’t you supposed to be happy when you an argument though? When they aren’t, I wonder why they bother. At least fight for something more noble than misery.
Maybe it’s just allowing yourself to be happy. I could write it off to brain chemistry or genetics, but at the end of day when I’m standing at the end of my driveway, after I’ve thrown away the garbage, and I’m staring up at the night sky, at some point I just have to believe that I’m too small and insignificant to be unhappy. It would all seem such a waste, that this big-ass universe is here for me and this tiny planet is here and crawling with billions of conscious creatures just as confused as I am and I would choose to waste such a precious and confusing commodity as time on being unhappy.
So I write down the dumb thoughts that run through my head and for the first time in human history we have the technology for me to post these on the internet and inflict them on some conscious creature just as confused as I am on the other side of the planet to read. Fucking magic.
And I’m supposed to be unhappy?
I might have been unhappy in the Old West or in Ancient Egypt, but here? Now? When I can listen to my favorite song literally any time I want?
Fuck that. Not a chance.
The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause
for being happy except that they are so.
The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
-Henry Ward Beecher
To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness,
though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
– Gustave Flaubert