If you frequent Facebook you've seen them. Lists accompanied by new age-y images, delineating the behaviors that happy people engage in that presumably make them or keep them happy. Smile more! Fuck you. Don't hold grudges! Go eat a dick. They're meant to be encouraging, but they come off sounding pompous and completely patronizing. "Oh, you're not happy? Well, that's YOUR fault. Just change these 10 deep-seated-inextricably-intertwined-with-your-personality behaviors and you'll be fine!" Choke on a rusty cock.
Language, I know. But this stuff does actually drive me a little crazy. I saw one list online that was twenty two items long (twenty fucking two!) and contained such gems as "Eat Well", "Live Minimally", and "Establish Personal Control". Oh GOD! All I have to do is establish total personal control and I can finally be happy all the time?! Well, what have I been doing all these years?! Seriously, that's like saying that the way to succeed is to be successful. THANKS! That's HELPFUL. And you know what sort of people "don't hold grudges", "avoid social comparison", "never compare themselves to others" and "live minimally"? Vegetables.
Much more informed people than I have written about this sort of thing but I'm incredibly wary of the constant pursuit of happiness. Life is insane and random and unfair plenty of the time and people who are not affected by that sort of thing are LIARS. And I don't like being around liars. I've always wanted to start off a first date by saying, "You know, we're going to die some day. Some day soon in comparison to the length of the universe. Not theoretically, literally. How am I supposed to function?" And when I find a person who responds with, "I KNOW! What IS that shit?" then I will get down on one knee and we will live terrified ever after.
And look, everybody has to live their lives. I recognize that the majority of the world has gone through much more serious, genuine adversity than I have. So, if you've been through the ringer and you just need to put on a smile and ignore the dark side of life - there's no way for this not to sound patronizing - go for it. Seriously. The caveat to everything I'm saying is, at the end of the day, do what you gotta do.
But if we could all be a bit more honest about feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, impotent rage, etc. I think the world would be a better place. So much great art comes from an intimate relationship with pain. And there's happiness too, in art and in life, of course. But when the endgame is always death it's hard for me not to find happiness at least a little false. Pleasure, yes. Joy, sure. Happiness? I don't know. And I love a good comedy but do you think there might be a reason why Shakespeare is much better known for his tragedies? A reason why movies like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Godfather routinely top "Best Films of All Time"-type lists? And even good comedy so often comes from deep, deep pain. Woody Allen, Louis CK, etc.
A therapist would no doubt have a field day with what I'm saying here, and maybe one day something truly crushing will happen to me and I'll be forced turn in my gleeful frown and my gallows humor for some meditation and gratitude but for now I will embrace my inner dark side. My inner Theo, if you will.
You won't? Ok, got it. Sorry.
Something that will make you happy: watching previous episodes of The Digressions. Check them out here!