We’ve all seen and read these kinds of articles before. Facebook actually does a great job of feeding us with tidbits of inspiration (amongst videos of beheadings, news of a newly-discovered planet somewhere, smart-ass memes, items on wars around the world, and updates on the Binays).
Well, we won’t go into those now.
It has been raining very hard for two days now, and while most of us are stuck at home or elsewhere, barely moving from place to place because of the impossible winds and rain, I chose to go up to the attic of my dark little house, and start writing.
So here I am. Come to think of it, I haven’t used this room for quite some time. It actually felt good sitting on this high wooden stool without a backrest (does wonders to my spine and weak back), with my laptop on a bar table (perfect angle and distance from my eyes), and with the doors and windows wide open (the sound of the rain and the smell of the wind just feel so calming).
And then, I begin to think of a topic to write about. But, there are a lot of distractions.
1. There was a puddle forming close to the terrace door I just opened. Bad rain. Bad, bad rain.
2. The layered sounds of different television sets in my neighborhood were all about one thing–the storm.
3. All this darkness, and the wailing wind outside, were making me feel like a sorry character/victim in a Stephen King book.
And then, I realized:
1. I could actually just wipe that puddle off a little later, because I loved feeling the rain and the wind, and those two were more important to me than that puny puddle.
2. How thankful I am that I am warm and dry in my little attic.
3. That some things actually look or feel better in the dark than in bright light. Maybe a nice cup of coffee, and fashion-show music, could be great mood-enhancers at this point–at least in my opinion.
I also realized:
1. That caring too much was a source of worry. And I didn’t want to worry.
2. That these things I just thought of were just that. Thoughts. In the 15 minutes that I thought of those thoughts, did anyone else around the world even care? I don’t think so.
And so, there it was: I was instantly happy.
Happiness doesn’t come too easy, when we are all distraught about the news we see; some are counting minutes and hours, while in a hospital corridor somewhere, agonizing about the next scenario involving a sick loved one; maybe there’s one right now who just feels so incredibly lonely. Or is feeling like a fool. Or a complete failure, or an under-achiever. Maybe there’s a parent out there who feels too inadequate, despite all efforts; maybe there’s a daughter who has been harboring feelings of deep-seated hate for her father or mother.
Just as there are billions of people, I could mention a billion more reasons to be unhappy. You could go add a few more–it’s pretty easy to add to the list.
But if you wish for otherwise, it’s even easier to follow just five. And make these, my friend, your little life mantra.
1. Recognize that people who don’t seem to have problems actually have problems.
So there’s that suave, sleek officemate in head-to-toe Chanel again. Flashing a strange little gadget that, apparently, is her Audi RX-8’s high-tech door key. She boards her car so smoothly, like a python. And glides away into the sunset, like a moviestar. Problem-free? Methinks not.
People start to feel unhappy once they start to compare their lives with the lives of others. Who would have ever thought that this same Chanel chick has been having problems with her husband, with her unsettled credit cards, and with her unpaid taxes? Yes, they’re people too. Like you and me. Maybe luckier, somehow, but no less vulnerable.
Speaking of problems, or personal issues, I’ve come to the conclusion that the moment I started to care less about things I used to rabidly think about, or process in my head (like problems), I began to feel these surges of happy within me. You and I both know this: there will always be problems. The question is: how do you deal with them? Do you have to deal with them, all at the same time?
Do you deal with them like it’s your last chance to, or like it’s just another day? Pick the second, and trust me: you will be happier.
So you may have made pretty bad choices in your life. So what. Miley Cyrus made pretty screwed-up choices, but look at how she’s now raking it all in. (Sorry for the example–mea culpa, bad choice.) Point being: we’re all allowed to screw up sometimes. It’s human nature to make a few (just a few, okay?) mistakes, and learn from these. And learn to carefully maneuver your own life back to the right direction. That’s how you become better.
2. Worry less. Worrying will slowly eat you up.
Okay, listen. It’s not about you all of the time. Unless your last name’s Jolie, or Obama, or okay, Cyrus, people will not really care about what you’re worrying about.
Let me say that again. It’s not about you all of the time.
If you’ve been sort of worrying and thinking that you’ve been the water-cooler topic these past few days or weeks, the question is: should you even care? How about you let them talk about you–and make them waste time doing it, while you choose to do something more productive. Sounds better?
Over-thinking–that painful, swirling void also known as “what if they think…”–is the worst way to perceive who you really are, and what you are actually capable of doing. It’s time to stop thinking you’re any less than the people around you, and time to start believing you could do it.
Also, as with relationships, age does not matter. If you feel you’re a bit too old compared to everybody else, exploit that edge. Older equals more experienced equals (hopefully!) wisdom. Too young? Even better. Younger could mean fresher, braver, brighter ideas. (Could.)
The bottomline: turn each–or any–insecurity into an advantage. It’s that simple.
Okay. So you feel that you’ve been inadequate. You believe that you should have started to become successful way earlier, but are lagging behind all the other people you know. You know that you’re good–and damn, you’re really good, and smart, and driven. So, why the misfortune of being the last in line?
It’s because you’ve been focusing on the wrong things: more on the race, and less on the prize. Instead of looking forward and aiming to claim what’s rightfully yours, you choose to look sideways, and see who’s catching up on you, or getting past you.
And make it the biggest deal in the world that you got tired, and stopped, and eventually lost the race.
So, how do we deal? First, enough of the pride. There will always be people who will be better, or will be bigger, or will be making more, than you. There will always be better-looking friends who will snag the girl or the guy of the century. There would always be people bagging more awards, more bonuses, more congratulatory messages from their bosses.
Humbly accept these as fact. Think about it: maybe next time, it’s going to be your turn. Just work on it. Slowly, and surely, like a lion quietly moving towards its prey, focus. Force yourself to save money–however little you may have. Learn how to invest. And soon, you’ll get your share of rewards.
But if these still don’t come, heck: whip out the money you saved, hop on a plane, and spend it on a grand European vacation! There are ways, amigo. There are always ways.
4. Be a little crazy. And a little lazy.
I have come to the conclusion that the busiest people are the most boring people in the world. I do not wish to be friends with them–those with too much on their hands, those who do not know that Saturdays exist to be enjoyed. People who are being OC about so many things, or keep a tight schedule, are unhappy people: they are slaves to a bad rhythm.
So, break that rhythm, and learn to have fun. Travel as much as you can–and it doesn’t have to involve an airplane all of the time.
You want to make the experience more intense and fulfilling? Travel alone. Rediscover the world. And in the process, rediscover yourself. Remember Eat, Pray, Love?
Happy people know the reason why beds, rainy afternoons, books, parks, and coffee cups were invented. And why idle conversations with good friends are actually quite useful: they clear up our heads of too much clutter. If you are a mom, a dad, a husband or a wife, pick a day of the week when you can just be silly you, with your silly friends (Tip: Before diving into any relationship, ask your potential partner if this one-day-with-pals arrangement is possible–if he or she doesn’t allow it, quit the affair. You’re better off with your friends than with a modern-day Hitler).
5. Choose to be happy.
Happiness does not, and should not, come from other people, or other things. Not even your kids, your cutesy pets, your parents, or your crush, your new iPhone 6, or your best friends. Nope.
Happiness should come from deep within you. From that place in the middle of your chest, that makes you all warm and fuzzy even without anyone telling you to, or making you, feel that way. I know it’s difficult to comprehend that, more so if you’re a parent who’s happiest when your baby boy suddenly discovers how to giggle, a dude who has just met the girl of his dreams, or a pet lover who’s just acquired the fattest cat from eBay.
So to make things easier, let’s be a bit grotesque (and prepare to be stunned by these questions): what if your kid suddenly dies? What if cutesy pet is run over by a truck? What if Miss ‘Girl of your Dreams’ happens to be a lesbian, and is the least bit interested in you? What if your iPhone plops out of your pocket and into the sewer, never to be seen again?
Is it the end of the road for you? Is it the end of your happiness? Now we’re talking.
We are beings that are actually capable of generating happiness, without anything helping to flip up their happy switch. Single could mean happy. Kids who were abandoned by their own parents, and still manage to succeed, know happy. Dude X, who is still keeping an ancient Nokia in his front pocket, while all the rest are scrambling for the latest smartphone, knows happy. Girl Y knows happy, as she squeezes–smiling–into a packed train, while all her friends are driven by chauffeurs in nice sleek SUVs.
They choose happiness. They work on it. Listen carefully: They don’t need anyone, or anything, apart from themselves, to earn it, or to prove the existence of it in their lives.
So how to be happy? Simple. Don’t read sappy novels too much. Or happy novels that start with ‘boy meets girl’ and end with ‘boy marries girl’, while here you are, still single, and wanting to crucify yourself because you’ve just been too lonely ever since you can remember.
Music can also make or break you. So if you’re this close to losing your mind while listening to a break-up song, do yourself a favor: just turn your iPod off. Bad, sad or low feelings make us sad. We don’t want to be sad. We want to be happy.
Do things that make you happy (and if it means reading sappy novels, crap. Go ahead, you loser. Just kidding).
Lastly, and this could easily be Tip#6: Think of your life as an airline’s cockpit. You have all these command buttons ready, right in front of you, to make you feel alright. A friend, a piece of cake, a journal, a Bible, a movie, jellybeans, jumping off a cliff–and getting out of it alive, and in one piece.
All you have to do is this: Just press the right button.
Image Credit: Thoughtpursuits.com