Stay Happy


Sometimes family can give us advice that we just have to reflect on as well as follow. I had family over on Sunday for a housewarming brunch. It consisted of a lot of food, presents, and salsa music. Not to mention that the woman and I spent much of the past two weeks painting, so it was definitely a day we were looking forward to. It is also a reminder of how a big family can make any apartment seem small.

So after everything was said and done, one of my aunts told me something that I feel I need to reflect on. Most people, when they are saying their parting words to another person, would say something like stay safe or have fun. What my aunt chose to say was “Stay Happy.” I was sort of taken back by this because this is something that has never been said to me. I think she took the hint that I was a little perplexed by this and clarified by telling me that I truly look happy and I need to make sure that I stay that way. 

I have to admit that this is not an appalling thing to be told, but I just found it to be oddly enlightening. We live in a world where people tend to blame others for their problems or give credit to God because he/she is the reason why all things are possible. There’s rarely  a time when people think about the fact they it takes work and effort to maintain happiness. I think this is the main reason why many of us get into trouble because we are trying to find happiness as if it is a place where we can go to.

Happiness is a state of being. That is why no one person can make us happy if we do not know how to be in that state alone. This is where the list of tragic stories comes into play of people marrying the wrong people or people being stuck in dead-end jobs. There is this notion that we will eventually be happy if we follow this American dream of finding that right person, having that great job, getting a house, having 2.5 kids, and then credits roll. That rah rah shit is for the movies.

I believe that finding true happiness is a rebellious act. Think about that for a moment. How many people hate other people for being happy? This rebellious state of being often acts like a mirror to others. You can see your own unhappiness reflected back to you in someone’s bliss. Can we truly be happy for another person? Of course, but that would have to be based either love for that person or the fact there you have reached that state of being before.

I cannot describe what being happy is like but I can say that I feel free to do the things that I have a passion for and giving less of my attention to things that ultimately do not matter in the grand scheme. I believe that there is power in letting things go. There is no way that anyone of us can be truly happy if we are holding grudges or animosity toward anyone. It is unhealthy to hold that pent up negative energy toward anyone or anything. I choose to have a short memory and it has worked out for me. (Note: I can already see one of my friend’s saying he is happy all the while still holding grudges. Which does work for him but my ultimate point is the the closer to zero of amount of fucks you give will increase the likely hood that you can reach a happy state)

I also believe this state of being gives us an aura that people notice. The term “you are glowing” does mean something. With that aura comes the confidence to do the things we are meant to be doing. I thought about the fact that I simply could not really write the way I wanted to when I was in Syracuse. There were too many things that were distracting me which lead me to do just the bare minimum of what I am passionate about.

Stay Happy is an acknowledgement that I’m doing things right, but it is also a warning. People who are not used to being happy have a way of sabotaging themselves.  I can tell you that I have to be careful not to fall into any traps or get too comfortable with my life. There is always work to do to make things better. While it is true that we cannot make every one happy, we can at least make ourselves happy.

Do We Know What We Want?

I was asked this weekend If I knew what I wanted and of course I said that I do. I want to be happy. I know that this is a very vague answer but it is so very simplistic in nature. Not that I consider myself old in any way, but I think that with my age and level of maturity I can really say what it is that I am searching for. I also believe that my fellow brethren who are about my age know exactly what I mean when I am vague enough to say I just want happiness.

Happiness to me is an all encompassing thing that I want to achieve in which my life is as close to bliss as possible. I realize that there are smaller goals that I need to achieve in order to work my way up to this. However, to truly achieve happiness we must first admit that we are unhappy. I think that most people in general hide the fact that they are unhappy and will deal with life because it is what it is. Of course, life is hard and there is no mistake about that.

The other thing is to understand and realize that our lives are not as bad as it could possibly be. Sure, I have my issues. I struggle everyday to survive with bills and the trying to maintain a healthy life as a single man. Not to mention the job search is not all that great. However, I have a roof over my head, I know that I can eat everyday and I have luxuries like a phone and a car. There are people in this world that cannot say that, which is why I try in my heart not to complain too much.

What it really comes down to is that we are not taught how to be happy. We are taught to be ruthless in a job market. We are taught subjects in school that we may or may not use later in life and we are definitely taught that we need to earn that money. Here is the thing: Money cannot buy love nor happiness, but it can destroy both (I am tweeting that as I write this).

Think about this and I may have said this before. We expect 18-22 year olds to decide on a major and what to do for the rest of their lives. What sucks about this is that most us do not find our true selves until our 30s. How are we supposed to manage that? What happens is that anyone us in our mid 20’s can end up in a job we went to school for and end up hating it after the first year. Why? Because as soon as we graduate we are told that we need to go right into the workforce to get that money to support our habits of buying things that we ultimately do not need to survive.

This is also effects relationships as well. How many people do you know have married their college for high school sweethearts? I know of one couple who are now married and they were in love since college. That is very rare these days. People will then tell me…”well our parents have been together for so long…why cant we?” Well, genius, it is different generation and different time. Using my father as an example here, he graduated high school and went into the navy which allowed him to travel the world and see things that I never have because I went to college. What that means is that he had 4 more years of actual life experience then I would ever have.

Take that into consideration when thinking about parents who have been together for so long. When we got out of college we had to figure a way to survive at 22-23, our parents were doing it at 18-19 (and sometimes younger). Those are critical years we are talking here. Now, what makes things worse is that when I graduated in the 90s a bachelor’s degree was good enough. That isn’t the case now, a Master’s degree is what we will all need to make the serious money. So imagine now being a college student having to stay 2-3 more years in school for something you may or may not like later in life and having to learn to survive at 24-25.

I bring all this up because I am 36 years old and I think I finally found myself. I think I am at a point in which not only can I make myself happy but I know what it will take to make another person happy. I have come to accept my own faults and deal with my place in this world. I am perfectly imperfect and I am ok with that. I spent my 20’s thinking that all I needed was a woman to make my life complete only to find out that only I can fix me. Once you get to that place, fear is just an emotion you can control just like the rest.

The "Off" Switch

I had this particular topic in my head in November. I was all set to write about it but then I put it on the back burner. I even forgot about it because my life was going in a certain way and I think as the 2009 came to a close I was able to get a grasp of my emotions and my thoughts.

Last week I was having a conversation with someone and she mentioned to me that she wished there was an “off switch” for emotions. That perhaps there was away to turn off emotions when we needed to in order to get through the day or whatever situation. It made me think a lot about this. I had to dust off this subject in my head and really think about this. In fact, I went so far as to attempt a poem, I started it, but I never got back to it. I am not even sure I like it.

Anyway, the concept of the “off switch” was something that I thought about at a time when I was dealing with several different things at once. I am the type of person now that is willing and able to deal with my problems head on. I don’t care for confrontation but I will do it because there are times in which it has to be done. I know my main problem is that I care about people’s feelings too much. So, in the past, I have avoided confrontation or even being honest about things because of it. I have since come to realize that I need to put other people’s feelings aside and just be real.

Let’s be honest here. There are very few people in the world who are going to care about our feelings the way we want them to. There are people in this world who think that life is all about them and what we feel simply does not matter…until it is too late. It is that simple fact alone that should provoke any one of us to be real. We learn to be selfish based on the actions of others.

I feel the “off switch” is the hardening of our hearts. While it is not a real concept because emotions is what makes us human, it is something that can be achieved through maturity and practice. This way you can turn off certain feelings off like: regret, sorrow, or depression. Can you imagine if they had a pill for that? Wait…maybe they do.

It would be hot if you could choose which things you want to shut off. I think about it like an iPhone or a Blackberry app. You can download it and the set the preference. It would be something like this:

  • Crying: Off
  • Living In The Past: Off
  • Sad Songs: Off
  • Romantic Movies: Off
  • Expectations: Off
  • Facebook Stalking: Off
  • Drunk Tweeting: Off

The point is that we struggle so much with our issues. Some people know how to deal with them and some people don’t. I think the more mature a person is the easier it is to not do dumb things to themselves and other  people. Maybe that is me having faith in other people. Personally, I have learned to deal with things as they come. I have learned the less you care the happier you will be. That sounds like it makes no sense, but some how it is reality.

However, I would be foolish to say that having an “off switch” is the best thing to have because it isn’t. This type of ability only limits ourselves and any real chance of happiness. I really think that true happiness comes from within and if we rely on people to make us happy then life will really be disappointing. We learn through pain and most humans are too stubborn not learn anything easily.

The only thing I would really create an “off switch” for, is fear. Too many people live their lives so scared of what might or might not happen that they forget to live.

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. – Don Miguel Ruiz