Happiness is….

Big house. Luxury car. Dream vacations. Leather couch. 20 foot boat. New iPhone. Flat screen HD TV. All the channels. 1 million followers. 500 re-tweets. Fancy clothes. Expensive toys. Second house. Fat wallet. Room for more.

Do you think that’s what happiness is?
Do you think that makes a person happy?
Do you define happiness in terms of inventory?
Do you have a checklist?
How many boxes have you checked off?

As of this writing, I’m 44 years old. Next month I’ll be 45.
I can honestly say that, up until just recently, I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.
Not “privileged”, but probably better than I was ever meant to.
I’m not well educated. Do not have an advanced degree.
I’m not particularly smart.
In fact, I know just enough to know that I don’t know much at all.

I’ve never been “flush with cash”, but I’ve done alright for myself.
I’m creative and funny ( or so I’ve been told ) and I guess you can say a little charm goes a long way.

But all that is gone now.
No point getting into how or why. That’s not the point.
The point is, I had what a lot of people would covet and yet something was missing.
For years I blamed this emptiness on everything.
Lack of this – lack of that.
If only I had this – if only I attained that.
This will do the trick.
Let me Google my name.
What comes up?
What’s missing now?

Friends, family, co-workers, associates, strangers – all took the brunt of my internal emotional inadequacies.

Not overtly. But on a subconscious level.
Mainly because none of this ever materialized on the surface.
All of this was bubbling under the thinly veiled patina of contentment that I unknowingly wore like a cheap Halloween costume.

To look at me, you’d think I was happy. Truly happy.
After all, why the fuck wouldn’t I be?
I had a beautiful wife, a nice house, a great dog, amazing friends. I flew the flag of the American dream. High, loud and proud. Obnoxious. Almost arrogant.

A sequence of mortars on the 4th of July.
one after the next. Each bigger and louder and brighter than the last.
And then, just like that….gone.

Why?
Was it greed? Was it ego? Was it hubris?
Was it selfishness? Was it gluttony?
Nope. It was something far more sinister.
It was unhappiness.
Brutal, dishonest, indignant, self-righteous unhappiness.
With the one fucking person I thought I knew. The one person I trusted.
The same lying deceitful son-of-a-bitch I’ve known since forever.

Me.

See, it’s like this…
There are certain truths to people as it pertains to their outward behavior or persona.
Ask any comedian and they will tell you that some of the funniest people on the plant, are also the saddest.  And some of the most friendly are also the most deeply resentful and angry.

I can’t speak to why this is. I don’t have the data and honestly, Im too lazy to research it.
After all, this is a blog and not a term paper.
I do know it’s a form of “opposites attract” but in a concentric circle of self defeat.
…like I said, I know enough to know I don’t know much.

But again, why?
Look around…people have it much worse.
Good job ( kinda), nice house, sexy as cosmic ultra fuck wife, loving family, etc and etc and etc and more etc.  So much etc. Literally all the etc.

So why the anger? Why the resentment? Why the unhappiness?
Easy – because that’s not how happiness works.

Happiness isn’t out there. It’s not your Uncle Traveling Matt
($5 bucks to the first person that gets that reference)

Happiness can only be found in one place.

Now pay attention because I said all of that to say all this….and if you only take one small thing away from this post, please, please, please, let it be the following sentence.
Ready? Ok, here we go…

You will NEVER find happiness with ANYTHING until you find it within yourself.

Let me say that again in case you missed it and this time, I will emphasize different words….

YOU will never find HAPPINESS until YOU find it within YOURSELF.

Got it?
If not, read that back as many times as you need to in order for it to truly sink in.

All the things I listed at the very beginning….house, cars, vacations, endless waffles, pet elephant, heart shaped water bed, big box of jelly-filled sex toys….all of it….does not and will not ever bring you happiness. Not ever.

Again, because that is not how happiness works.

If you think it does, you’re confusing happiness with contentment.
Which is exactly what I did.

Contentment is temporary. It’s fleeting. It could last a day, a month, a year. But eventually, it will run out.  And when it does, the first thing you’ll want to do is replace it. You’ll have to. Because you’ve mistaken it for happiness and, after all, we just want to be happy, right?

It becomes a hunger. And what’s the first thing you do when you run out of food? You go and get more food.

Stop and think about this for a second.
What’s the one cardinal rule of food shopping?
– Don’t shop when you’re hungry.

You end up with a cart full of gibberish because at that particular moment in time, you are easily influenced and almost graciously susceptible to every fleeting whim of all five senses.
Low Sodium Spam, Milk Paste and Peanut Butter Pop Tarts? Fuck yea I need all of that!
( side note….nobody needs Peanut Butter Pop Tarts.
They are easily the worst flavor Pop Tart )

We’re hunters and gatherers by design.
When have a need and a desire, we do what is in our ability to fill it.
Because desire breeds need which can only be satiated by contentment.
And what is contentment?
…that’s right…contentment is temporary.

But happiness is not a need.
In fact, happiness strips us of our need.
It renders us clean and clear and finally fulfilled.
Happiness provides fulfillment. Fulfillment. delivers peace.

This is what’s known in Dharmic faiths as nirvana.

Not this Nirvana…

50yearsofrollingstone_p135-692de145-a732-41ff-a699-e752cb45835a

This nirvana.

Inner-Peace-Help-Me-God

…although probably with better Photoshop skills.
And not so many mossy rocks.
I don’t know who created this image, but I never thought there would be so many mossy rocks on my road to enlightenment.
You know how fucking slippery those things are?
A goddamn hazard that’s what that is.

Someone once said that happiness is a choice.
But I don’t believe that. I think happiness is a decision.
And yes, there is a difference, slight as it may be.
A choice is the right, power, or opportunity to choose, where as a decision is the conscious act of or need for making up one’s mind.
Going a bit further, the word “choice” comes from “to perceive.” While “decision” comes from “cutting off”.

You have the choice to be happy but it won’t happen until you decide it to make it so.
I had the choice to start this blog but it didn’t happen until I decided to finally do it.

You have to take stock of your life…your environment…your physical as well as your mental habitrail.
…do they still make habitrails? It’s like a little plastic playground for hamsters.

habitrail

Growing up, we always had hamsters and every Garage Sale I ever went to had different random pieces for habitrails.  Seriously, stick at it long enough and you could build your own little hamster Winchester House.

Honestly, I’m not even sure they still make hamsters.
Is that still a thing?
…I should look into that.

Where was I?…oh right, habitrails…The place you call home. Inside and out.
And most importantly, you have to take stock of yourself.
You need to decide that you truly do want to be happy.
Otherwise, what you think is happiness, is nothing more than distractions from it.

Personally speaking, the thing that brought me the most happiness ended up being the oils I used to paint my canvas with anger.  It was where I laid my blame, my criticism, my accusations and my censure.  Not all the time. Not even a lot. But enough that it fills me with regret.  Why? Because I was fundamentally unhappy with myself. And it was easier to cast a net in front of me than it was to look inward.

I’m not really blaming myself. How could I? This wasn’t something I understood. Honestly I still don’t fully get it.  At the time it seemed right, but now, as I sit here looking back, it’s easier to see the mechanics.

It’s not easy. It’s just easier.

You can’t blame the TV show if your television isn’t getting good reception.
Well, my reception was fuzzy and only got worse because I didn’t understand how to make the right adjustments.  There’s more to it than just that. But that’s what happened on my side of the couch. And my side is the only side I can speak of.

And although this sounds pitiful and sad – and to be sure, it is. It’s also an opportunity.
I know more now than I knew yesterday.
And next week, I’ll know more than I do today.
Every single day is another chance.
Maybe not to “set things right”, but simply to just ‘do right”.
By others and more importantly, by yourself first.

Remember, place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.

Now to be clear, I’m not suggesting to give up all your worldly possessions and live a life of material celibacy.  Hell no. Not even a little.  First, that’s just unrealistic and secondly, I like my stuff!  I’ve spent my entire life collecting my stuff.  Shit…you better keep away from my stuff!

And I’m also not going to say that family and friends and the sound of a child’s laughter bring true happiness – because, well, sometimes they don’t. Especially not the laughing child bit. That’s just flat out annoying.

But I will say that you’ll only appreciate their full value once you find, accept and experience happiness within yourself.
If you can’t understand your own worth, how can you understand anyone else’s?
Simple.
You can’t.
Find time to love yourself.
Not in a mastabatory way…not at first….there’s plenty of time for that later.

Enjoy your own company.
Indulge your likes and purge your dislikes.
Your life truly is a journey and if you don’t know where you want to be in 5 years,
well guess what, you’re already there.

So make the most of it.
Self loathing gets you nowhere.
And it takes a lifetime to get there.
Find your happiness, than get that boat.
Find your happiness, than be a better friend.
Find your happiness….and I promise you, you’ll be happier for it.

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