Saturday, December 2, 2017

Happiness (Before I Wake Up Dead, Pt. 3)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Blogaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder)
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)


"Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." -Omar Khayyam

Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies,

As threatened promised, this is another letter about "...Cranky cranking out a column (or two or...) and writing down everything he'd tell his beloved Stickies if he knew he was scheduled for deletion." -me

The Secret of (Occasional) Happiness

I wrote a column titled The Secret of (Occasional) Happiness in July of 2016 that predates my Dear Stickies format but is nevertheless relevant. Its thesis was/is that "Someone to love that loves you back (a dog will do) and interesting work is the secret of (occasional) happiness." -me

I qualified happiness with (occasional) because as I explained in the article (briefly, and not well) everything contains its opposite, that is to say, something and its opposite are two sides of the same coin -- you can't have one without the other. Another way to put this is that opposites define each other.

Yet another is that if you were happy all the time you wouldn't know it because you'd be happy all the time. Wordplay I know, but it's true. Although I can't prove it scientifically/experimental/whateverly, it's still true.

The Pursuit of Contentment

The very first column I wrote, The Pursuit of Contentment  -- they were called blog posts several hundred days ago in the dim and distant past -- was published on July 23, 2015. For technical reasons (I screwed something up and I still don't know the what or the how of it) it's now dated 8.20.16. This is the date it was rescued from the (electronic) dustbin and republished.

My thesis was/is that once I'm crowned the King of America I'm going to change the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, the pursuit of happiness, to the pursuit of contentment (kings can do shtuff like that). The reason I'm going to do this is because:

"This is the central tenet of King Crank's Philosophy of Contentment. Be thou a believer (in God, a God, or the Gods), an atheist, or _______, the fact remains that if you choose to keep showing up you're going to occasionally experience happiness. 

You will also occasionally get caught in a crap storm. Mostly, you will just be doing what needs to be done to keep body and soul together. This is often boring, which may lead us to pursue happiness and explains why it's relatively easy to sell us lottery tickets, politicians, and beauty aids." -me yet again


You're saying to yourself "Self, if he's already written two entire columns about happiness why is he writing yet another entire column about happiness?"

Well, ask a recovered (recovering) drunk about the phrase "...we absolutely insist on enjoying life."

[For the record: many a recovered drunk, I'm talking people who've been on the wagon for years, insist on referring to themselves as recovering, not recovered. That is to say, they regard their sobriety as a work in progress that never ends until they do. I was married to one, Ronbo, for 21 years. While technically no longer with us, being a force of nature, she lives on.]

[Dana: With all due respect to, uh, Ronbo... where's this going?]

[Iggy: Is she..., is that the one uncle Ray calls Nana?]

Marie-Louise is scratching my back and smiling, she loved Ronbo.


Let me put it this way. I am, by temperament a -- the glass is almost empty -- sort of person. Also, having rounded the block once or twice and having obtained my Sexy Seasoned Citizen credential, I concur with the Buddha, life is suffering. Or, as they say on the Nor'side-a-Pittsburgh (HT: Ed), life's a bitch and then ya' die.

[Dana: Geez, sucks to be you but what...]

Which is why I've given/I continue to give a bit of thought to the subject at hand. I stand by the two columns mentioned above. Both of them are about what to do in spite of the spiritual wisdom of the Buddha or the more secular wisdom of the good citizens of the Nor'side-a-Pittsburgh.

That is, as the Big Book (not to be confused with the Good Book, but which is equally important to some people) says "...we absolutely insist on enjoying life" to which I would add -- when we can, as often as we can, and as hard as we can.

BIG BUT

How should we conduct ourselves when life is kicking our ass? given that it frequently does and often it's impossible gonna' take a minute (or a year, or two, or...) to get happy/get the door prize/see a rainbow.

Two points. First, as I pointed out in last week's column, you have two choices. You can pull the covers over your head and refuse to get out of bed. The best you can hope for is is a tolerable, stable level of misery that you hope won't get worse.

Or, you can get out of bed, do what ya' gotta do to keep body and soul together (or the bodies and souls of those in your charge together) and take baby steps towards a positive goal. It's OK if your most important goal is to not feel like crap all the time as long as once you don't you get another most important goal.

Second, and I credit Professor Jordan B. Peterson for getting me to start thinking about what follows (Dr. J. will be the Chairmanperson of my Royal Privy Council once I assume my throne, please hold the throne jokes).


Given that we're wired to pursue goals (sublime or profane) because we're wired to believe that reaching our goals will make us happy
And,

Given that we soon discover that once we reach a given goal we need another one(s) to stay (more or less) happy


And,
Given that we're capable of projecting what we would be/could be like, and what effect we could have on the world/in the world if we if we were to eventually rise far enough, one baby step at a time

And,

Even if you don't ever have much of a life, if you spend it trying to have a substantial life you'll not only feel better physically/emotionally/spiritually, you'll have chosen Nobility over Nihilism -- and there will always be ice cream. Poppa loves you.   

Have an OK day.


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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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