…Will inevitably lead to slamming your forehead in a brick wall, as down to earth reality stays put while you’re chasing that thing up above. You can choose to ignore the walls at your leisure, until one presents itself… than kblam. Just “Happy”, as the only paramount goal to have for life, is wrong and pretty much results in unhappiness, as happiness is an emotion dependent on outside circumstance and gaining something. If on the other hand you’re searching for something with a more internalized locus such as contentment, joy, acceptance, progress… this would be a far better bet.
There is this opposite seesaw of the happy philosophy rampaging through our emotional lives for the past half a decade or so, the belief that we can positive affirmation our way to happier lives, that gaining just one more thing will make us happy, that we’re all special snowflakes getting trophies just for showing up, that we’re all winners and perfect just as we are… The mantras suggest you’re not all those things you need to murmur proclamations to yourself about in front of the mirror. That you’re not happy, successful, blessed, calm, loved… Getting one thing only instantly makes you want something more, better, higher… We’re not all special wunderkinds waiting to bestow our genius on the world and save it, most of us are average at most things and have a few talents here and there… Trophies for nothing devalue true effort that went into winning, devalue practicing and trying to be better. We’re not all winners all the time. Sometimes you just lose, no matter how hard you try and we’re not perfect just the way we are. There are things wrong with you… and me, and everybody, and it’s better to be aware of the things we need to work on than cement them over with “perfect” and “special”.
It is not necessary to have everything and for it to be perfect. There is strong psychological research showing we’re not even built for perfect and that a prolonged lounging about in “perfect” would result in aggression, boredom and lethargy, that we would go and find a problem to deal with or make one up out of thin air, that we would destroy something or self-destruct, just so we have something, anything at all to contend with. That is what we were made for – To grow through figuring things out, battling them, having challenges to overcome and move through this life as creative problem solvers, not passive blissed out blobs lacking any motivation to move and do (besides the motivation to create a problem out of nothing). Life will delve out a fair bit of real problems to each one of us, so there is no need to make up extras. Reality consists of clashes, resolutions, overcoming and navigating the complexity of infinite factors merging, convulsing, interacting and emerging. We have the capacity to remember our past to be able to not repeat its mistakes and the capacity to imagine the future in order to envision building something in it, as well as imagining the unavoidable occasional shit storm scenarios that will inevitably occur in creating anything at all. Yet, the umbrella that will protect you from this hellish foul smelling storm is not “happy”. It’s action and trying, it’s accepting that a problem free life is an utopist daydream. Utopias are unsustainable and not all they are cranked up to be, because they inevitably lead into something destructive and tyrannical in order to protect the imagined “perfect”.
It was never the point of maturation to get to a problem free zone. Chances are that the older we get and more expertise we gather, the more problems will arise. You won’t avoid them but become more sophisticated in solving them. That is maturity – pretty much getting better at problem solving, taking more responsibility (aka more problems as well) and having the higher order of problems – better ones instead of none. When you were a kid a problem would be not being able to go and play outside because it’s raining or you’re all out of orange crayon, in your teenage years missing a certain party was the end of the world, now you’re trying to figure out how to balance work and quality time with your child and partner, later in life you might have to learn how to be the elder of the entire family and how to invest the money you’ve worked for all your life. The latter problems are far more important and better than the former ones and most of our positive emotions are not generated by achieving something but – as the cliché goes – it’s about the journey. It really is, because you get rewards of feel good chemicals by solving the steps getting you to where you want to go. Suffering, although unpleasant, isn’t unbearable if there is a personally valued end goal in sight. Suffering with no purpose or goal at all is soul crushing. You’ll suffer either way because, as philosophy teaches us, some suffering is unavoidable and one of the universals of being alive. You just need to choose what is worth it and what isn’t.
Better problems that make you move and think are superior to no problems at all. The world changes all the time and if you’re frozen in amber as it changes, you’ll just be as that encumbered poor sucker of a moth – Fossilized and dead. Contend with things, make yourself into someone strong enough to deal with what presents itself, build your confidence by doing it even if you really have no idea how yet, by failing, and getting up to fall better next time. Even good martial arts teachers will teach you how to fall properly so you don’t get hurt as much, before they teach you how to remain standing and win the fight.
The happy balloon pops by a first sharp prick that comes along or they just deflate, if by some miracle they avoid all of the pricks in this world. The bump on your forehead from hitting the wall will subside but the lesson that running into walls is painful remains. That pain was a useful teacher. Most pain is.