While frolicking through the highly informative brilliance that is Buzzfeed the other day, I encountered a heated discourse about the noble search for happiness. Some Internet creatures were linking to articles about the little things that make a human happy while others were engaging in challenges in which you have to post a happy thing every week or day on social media. My favorite was a passionate discussion about how meditation is not enough for happiness, which made me giggle because it was nonsense (meditation has nothing to do with happiness at all, you psychiatric sorceress!).
When it comes to this kind of thing, I’m about the biggest naysayer you’ll find. Cynicism is by no means my game, but most folks are going about the search for happiness all wrong. Mostly because they’re out questing for it, like a drunk pirate on a dinghy looking for hot ass mermaids who’ve never tasted man flesh (in the SEXY way).
First off, if you don’t think you’re happy, you’re being messed with by your brain or by someone else’s. Maybe in some moments you’ve felt down, like that time your significant other dumped you for a yoga video on YouTube, or that time you tried doing yoga because of that video you saw on YouTube, but those highlighted experiences are no cause to question your entire being. Just your physical attractiveness and yoga budget. Happiness is not a forever feeling that you submerge in until you die; in fact, there is nothing you can feel all the time. Stuff is fleeting and that’s cool.
If you want to be happy, don’t post happy-a-day business on Facebook or Twitter because then you’re focusing in on that little thing that, when gone the way of every wall post, takes a bit of that so called happiness with it. You’re not a Pokemon master that has to catch every happy instance and keep it in a sealed slavery capsule (in fact, Pokemon isn’t real, so accept that truth as well). This goes for something like meditation too, which is not meant to be an active activity that pinpoints depressing brain synapses and crushes them once and for all. Meditation teachers I’ve met and read say it’s not some new age mantra, but just a place where you are you, and ok with it. It’s one of few things you can’t engage in with the mindset of, “Bro, I am crushing this!”
As well, just abandon the idea of being happy altogether. The pursuit of being happy makes the entirety of the world a minefield of things that could potentially take your tenuous happiness out back and shoot it in the shins, so why not decide to not decide to be happy. Happiness is not a decision, and the solution to sadness or shitty feelings is not drinking every beer, or having every sex thing happen, or watching a sunrise with that girl that friend-zoned you while realizing that friendship is what you wanted all along and oh man check out that perfectly timed flock of birds that symbolize your life.
Happiness, as it turns out actually, is a seriously powerful feeling when weaponized. Cults, shopping malls, marketing gurus, people who pretend they are spiritual and know that calling themselves gurus can get them cash, and other schemes such as these, have been utilizing happiness as a cash cow forever. The promise of joy can get almost anyone to empty their wallets and the logic right out of their brain. Ever bought a box of cereal because you thought it’d brighten up your morning? You’ve been had, citizen! That box of cereal is analogous to a mass medication for the reality of being alive, and by buying into that corporate project you are endorsing the idea that you are, in fact, unhappy by someone else’s definition and therefore need to medicate yourself off the condition of unhappiness.
So yes, entire Internet, you are going about happiness the wrong way. Happiness does not arrive daily on the wings of a meme, nor is it a single realization you have one day while ruminating on the toilet. It’s more a non-thing, the absence of feeling like a jackass, and the ok-ness of not trying so hard to wrap your tentacles around any one emotional state. If you attempt to purchase it, you may be called a sheep by bored cynics, then become one yourself when the money runs dry. If you insist on doing things to make you happy, you’ll blame those same things when they suck. If you smoke a lot of weed, someday you’ll forget to wear pants to a wedding. The only solution? Don’t try at all, but not like a nihilist ass hat, and you’ll encounter what you never thought you were looking for. And you can believe me, because I’m spouting this AND sober!