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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

This is from a friend for a friend.

So every once in a while I stick my head up, much like a prairie animal, and take notice of what's going on with the people around me. A lot of them aren't very happy sometimes. And I suspect that even some of the ones who do seem happy really aren't. This is partly because of the first point I wanted to make in this writing:

People tend to judge others based on their view of themselves
Generally, what this means is that if you're a spiney hearted little bastard, you probably think most other people are too. Conversely, if you're a pretty nice person, you'll tend to trust others a bit more than they deserve. The end result of this is that spiney hearted little bastards tend to hurt everyone for no apparent reason, nice people tend to get taken advantage of and become cynics, and, on rare occasions, nice people help eachother out. Of course, I'm overgeneralizing, but that's merely for brevity. Anyway, you're probably wondering what this has to do with being happy. Well, it comes down to what you EXPECT of people. Which, in a way, brings us to the second point.

Everyone has needs, desires, and expectactions.
People have surprisingly few needs, among these being sustenance (food, water, air), comfort (protection from elements, relaxation), and social interaction. These may vary in degree of need from person to person, but we all need them. Desires are things we merely want, people often fool themselves into thinking they NEED, what they merely WANT, but it's still just a desire. Expectations are like a minor form of desires, you expect something to happen, and when it doesn't, you feel wronged, more in some cases, less in others, but either way, the world didn't do what you thought it would, and most people don't like that. Whenever what you have, or get, is less than what you need, desire, or even expect, then you become unhappy. This brings me to my third point.

Happiness is what you have lessened by what you desire.
It's a very simple concept for what seems like a complex issue, and it's not the key to being happy, but it is a way to understand what makes someone happy or unhappy. Understanding is the first step to fixing any problem, or undertaking any task. I'll leave you with my list of guidelines to being happier.

First off, I'm a cynic, as such, I don't expect much good to come of anything, since the world is the way it is, I'm rarely disappointed. If something goes horribly wrong, I'm not usually surprised by it, so expectations don't cut into my happiness, plus if things go well, it's a pleasant surprise, you can rarely be surly about things going right.

I really don't want much in life. So long as I have my basic needs fulfilled, I'm fine. Occasionally something catches my fancy (like a good book or cd) and I'll get it. But I really wouldn't miss them if I didn't have them. I really don't have many desires above my needs. Oftentimes I have more than I really want.

Perceptions are a remarkable tool. If you focus on how horrible life is and how badly some things have gone, you'll fail to notice any of the good things. Even if there isn't anything good, there's gotta be worse things that haven't happened. I used to be depressed all the time as a teen, and really, I had no reason. I realized that if you relax and let good things happen, they will. Not because they wouldn't happen otherwise, but simply because you weren't seeing them. Though I do find myself appreciating art, in whatever form, stemming from unhappy or painfull experiences more than light-hearted or whimsical pieces. That would be the pleasure from pain principle.

Dennis Leary once mentioned in a rant of his that happiness is a moment to moment thing, a cigarette, an orgasm, a cookie. You smoke the cigarette, have the orgasm, eat the cookie, then move on. In a way, I agree... you don't strive to become happy, it's not some goal you reach. You have to get your happiness while you live the rest of your life.

While you're living your life, always know what you're doing, why, and who it affects. Don't accept anything anyone tells you without questioning it. Every person has their own morality and goals, trying to live by someone else's standards won't make you happy. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

You should question that one too.