31 December 2012

Ode to the Marginally Happy on New Years Eve

You know, everyone talks a big game about happiness and "finding your passion." Tomorrow, there  is going to be a million facebook status updates and tweets about devoting this new year to becoming happy, finding happiness, and holding onto happiness. Articles will be written on how to make 2013 your year. How to be happy, stay happy, how to find your passion and work it into every moment of your happy, happy life. And all you'll have to do is follow their 300 step list. 

But you want to know something? Lean a little closer and I'll whisper the secret to happiness...

It's all bullshit. We are not meant to be happy.

Now hang on, this isn't going to be a downer. Happiness does exist, but it's a fleeting emotion and not a state of being or a way of life.

Listen, we are by chance a talking species of apelike mammal driven by a chemical flux evolved for survival on a rock spinning around a great volatile ball of nuclear fusion. We exist for a fleeting blink in this tiny space, where the environment is just right and any step outside of it will kill us. Hell, our bodies will kill us. The stupid stuff we do will kill us. We will kill each other. And though everyone has a theory, no one really knows if there is anything to look forward to after death. The point is, life is short and weird and hard and confusing and awesome all at the same time. All we know for sure is we are here now and all we know that we have is here and now. 

So we compensate by trying to find some magical key to being brilliantly happy about our predicament. And while there is something to be said about proactively trying to enjoy life, the fact is this is just too much pressure applied to reach an unattainable goal. 

So this New Year, I don't wish you happiness. I wish you contentment. 

Don't be feel empty if you aren't living your passion and your dreams aren't coming true. That only happens for a scant few (and even then, things aren't always what they're cracked up to be.) Most of us are going to work uninspiring jobs that pay the bills. It can be interesting and challenging sometimes, but it's probably not amazing. If everyone were living the dream, there's be no one left to make things work. Who is going to manufacture the guitars for all those rockstars?

Don't look down about all the stuff you don't have, the yoga poses you haven't done, the parenting achievements you failed to attain, the weight you didn't lose last year, or the fact that your life didn't meet your 'vision.' Perfection is impossible. Don't try to be incredible this year, just try to make your life the best it can be. Even if happiness is elusive, there are always reasons to smile.

Like, for instance, a murderous nuclear killer is exploding above you. Right above your head and it's not killing you, lucky ape. In fact it feels pretty nice. Enjoy the sunshine on your face and don't look at 2013 as another 'happiness' gauntlet. Look at it as a sweet bonus round, a gift, and use it without being too neurotic. It won't make you more happy, per say, but it will bring you more contentment. 



Adam said...

Don't give up on your dreams. Write another book, until one sticks. If another apelike mammal can do it, so can you.

EM Hum said...

Thanks, Adam. I'll do that one of these days. Other responsibilities call at the moment, but inspiration always comes back.