20 March 2011

the guide to happiness, part 1

I often write about sources of happiness - what the characteristics of happy people are, why Scandinavia is the Land of Happy, and how you can achieve happiness. But today I'm going to share with you some sources of unhappiness.
Sometimes I have days when I am really not happy, and I wonder why. I have so much, so I wonder why I get down on myself. But here are some of the most common sources of unhappiness:

The green monster (and we're not talking about some sort of eco-propaganda or the Red Sox guy that comes out after the 7th inning stretch).
We're talking about that wonderful emotion you feel when your best friend just bought an Italian villa overlooking the Mediterranean - and you didn't. Jealousy has broken friendships, hearts, and the road to happiness. When we are jealous, we feel bad for ourselves because 1, we don't have whatever the person we are jealous of has, and 2, we feel bad that we are jealous. If you are jealous of a friend, wallow in their success too - even if it is something that you wanted. At least you know someone great got the promotion, job, etc. Because not only will you feel bad if you are jealous, but your friend will too. And if the person you hate most in the world got whatever you wanted, that's rough - but really, that just means that your nemesis has the power to not only steal what you wanted, but make you feel really envious. If you really practice, you can overcome envy and become the bigger person.

It's not my fault!
We're all guilty of this one - I "can't find" my homework even though I really just forgot about it, or I had too much to do and I couldn't turn in my project today. Blaming other people might make you feel better for a little while - but after that, it makes you seem immature and incompetent, and you won't get very far like that. This also goes for failure - don't blame it on someone - instead, own up to your wrongdoing and then remember what you did wrong, so you can make it right.

Wait - it's not perfect yet.
I am the ultimate perfectionist. I will erase "respiratory system" 7 times until it looks pristine. One time I even took out my pencil before I took out my pen so I could practice writing the title for my notes. People even write about it in my yearbook.
But I am always really dpressed because if I made a comic for Julius Caesar and I don't make one for Macbeth the world is over. And if I don't get a 100 on my anatomy test but I planned to, I cry for hours. It's incredibly ridiculous.
But we have to learn to desensitize myself. Perfection does not exist. Let me repeat: perfection does not exist. But a lot of ridiculous individuals like myself are under this strange delusion that perfection is attainable. So we are just sadly walking through life feeling like loser even though we actually do a lot more than what is expected.
Also, we humans tend to think about things too much. Like if someone was holding up all five hand appendages and asked us how many fingers there were, some of us would say 4 becase the thumb is "not technically a finger" and some even argue that the pinky is not a finger either.
The answer is five.
We will overthink 5+2. Does it equal 7? I'm not sure . . This often leads to a ridiculous amount of trivial calculations about nothing, and we are often left stranded, drowning in our own stifling thoughts.

Everything in the world is sad and awful. There is nothing good about humanity.
This is an anti-my blog statement. We are too focused on the bad. Yes, our world needs improvement. But just think of the good and you will forget the bad. Let the good times roll. Just go read givesmehope.com and you will understand that good exists.

I'm really bad at everything and I can't do anything of merit.
Yes you can. Everyone is good at something, even if it's small. Just because you aren't an Olympian doesn't mean you can't play sports well. You don't have to graduate from Harvard to be smart. Recognize the good things you can do and practice them so you can become even better.

My life is completely meaningless. An empty jar.
There isn't going to be a random osbcure man waiting to give you the biggest opportunity for fame and fortune. You need to pilot your own life. Become who you want to be. Take the initiative, as my dad loves to say. He also likes to say "study for the SATs".
If you were born, clearly you were born for a reason. And remember, you can't have it all - looks, athletic ability, artistic ability, musical abilitiy, social ability, and kindness, compassion, faith, optimisim - the list goes on. Find something you are good at. Even if you aren't good at something - find somehting you want to be good at, and practice.
If some random street-goer gives you $50, what are you going to do wth it? You can do nothing (the equivalent of living a meaningless life), you can invest it (practice your skills), or you can spend it (go with your intuition and spontaneously try something new).
The first option is not one of the steps on the road to success.

I'll never be as ___ as him/her.
You might not. But why bother? That sounds a little harsh. But it's true. If you keep comparing yourself to someone else, you won't be spending enough time trying to become yourself. And plus, it would be boring if everyone was a beautiful as the most attractive movie stars, or if everyone was as smart as Galileo, Einstein, Newton, and the others. Be yourself. That is the best cliche I have ever heard.

So here is a little comprehensive guide to unhappiness. Now that we know what causes that, we can find out how to find
h a p p i n e s s.

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