The trouble with the pursuit of happiness, is not the pursuit of happiness. It is the method by which we evaluate our happiness.
I read this article about how America is obsessed with happiness, and it’s making us miserable. The article made me sad for the author. By her own admission in her article, she’s an over thinker, and she’s definitely overdone it on this one.
The truth is, I am sick and tired of people complaining. I love what Gary Vaynerchuk says – that the only thing that is ever valid to complain about, is… well… complaining itself!
Ruth Whippman cites research about whether or not people are truly happy, and I don’t buy it. I don’t buy any of it. You can’t “research” happiness. Happiness is not scientific, therefore it can never be quantified. Any effort at quantifying happiness will, without a doubt, make you unhappy.
So America is number 25 on the list of happiness in developed countries? The only response I can think of is (in all caps like this):
Who gets to evaluate the results of these studies? How biased are THEY? How unhappy? We see what we want to see, and if someone sets out to prove that Americans are unhappy, then I have no doubt, that is exactly what they will find, and they will still be full of shit.
Happiness is not quantifiable, because it is spiritual in nature. Much like alcoholism, happiness can only be self diagnosed. No one can say for another, whether or not they are truly happy – especially not through some scientific method.
First of all, if being around people who claim to be happy makes you feel bad? That’s YOUR shit, not theirs. That means it’s time to take a look at yourself and figure out what’s wrong with YOU.
One of my favorite quotes from the book, “Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions” (yes, from AA) comes to mind here,
“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us, and we are sore we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about “justifiable” anger? If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad? Can’t we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us of AA these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justifiable anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.”
I am going to offer to take this one step further, and claim that anyone who desires true happiness, is il-qualified to handle justifiable anger.
If you’re not with me yet on this, think of it in the most literal sense possible. If I am pissed off at something someone did or said, then I AM THE ONE WHO’S PISSED OFF. So who’s the one with the real problem? Me. or the person whom I am angry at?
If you are in a yoga class with people you barely know, and they all look miserable to you, that is likely much more a reflection of where you’re at, then it is a reflection on them. I’m not a yoga person, but I 100% solute those who are.
If you define success as achievement,
then you will need to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow.
This is an indisputable fact of my existence.
I go to the gym, and work with my trainer. We do many things that are uncomfortable, but here’s where the happiness comes around. In my first workout with “Trainer Joe” I was able to do a core plank for all of 30 seconds. Now I can go well over a minute, and I can go a full minute doing a tall plank, which is much harder. I have gotten 100% stronger, and I feel an amazing level of energy. Now THAT makes me happy.
To grow, muscles need to be torn. Then they grow back stronger. I believe happiness works in a similar manner. We have to get out of our comfort zones. What happens next is that what was once uncomfortable, becomes comfortable. When you recognize this, it is that exact moment, when you experience an extremely happy feeling, because you can see and feel your own growth as a person.
Drinking in the park? I guess I am the WRONG person to make that suggestion with. First of all, presumably there are children around, but I’ll refrain from getting judgemental here.
Oops! Too late. Nonetheless, for now I will focus on the more practical part of my reaction to that, and merely suggest, that if your definition of happiness is, “The happy person would be more likely to be off doing something fun, like sitting in the park, drinking” it sounds to me like a recipe that will land you sitting next to me in an AA meeting. Today I am happy, but it wasn’t the pursuit of happiness that landed me in AA, I can assure you.
Happiness is an inside job. Only I can decide for myself, whether I am truly happy. Do I expect for even a minute that I will ever be 100% happy every minute of every day? No. For one thing that would be boring as hell. For another, it isn’t realistic.
When I was employed full time, I was unhappy. There were many reasons for that. I remember sitting outside, having a cigarette (another very unhappy thing I was able to shed from my life at 5 years clean). I remember there was this one woman who was ALWAYS complaining about the job, and the company we worked for.
The truth is, that company treated us very well. The difference between me and that woman was I didn’t complain. I made the very clear and obvious decision, that if I wasn’t happy, it was up to ME, not the company, to change that. I tried to fix it with money. Having given my notice, the company offered more money, and I stayed, only to realize 6 months later, that I was still unhappy. The problem was still the same. ME.
Eventually I moved on to another job where I wound up unhappy once again, and I noticed the same thing. I was the common denominator.
So I started my own business. Now I get to choose whom I surround myself with. If you think being a cynic makes you happy, then by all means, be a cynic, but fair warning. Don’t you dare complain when truly happy people don’t want to be anywhere near you. At the same time, don’t be surprised when being around us makes YOU uncomfortable. It’s the anti-birds of a feather effect.
You see, the happier I have grown, the less tolerant I am of people’s bullshit. If my happiness makes you uncomfortable, that’s your shit, not mine. You own that.
And here’s where I get tough on you because I was a New Yorker, before a Californian.
If you find Americans so detestable because of our pursuit of happiness, then by all means please get the fuck out of our country! We don’t need you here. You will only bring us down!
I said it above, and I’ll say it again as a recap. I am sick and tired of people complaining. That woman who was always complaining at my second to last job, is likely still at that job, and she is likely still complaining every day. Maybe complaining is what makes her happy, or maybe it just gets her through. My money’s on the latter.
Bottom line, each individual has to decide for themselves, whether or not they are achieving overall happiness. If you determine that you are not happy, or not as happy as you would like to be, then it is entirely up to you to change that.
You are your own responsibility. Own that shit, and stop trying to bring others down, just because you don’t feel good about yourself.
Happy in Burbank, CA!