Do you want to be happy?
It's not a ridiculous question, even though everyone will answer me, "Of course, you daft woman." Without getting into the various definitions of what happiness is or what a reasonable level of happiness might be, there is a larger reality: there is a sizable portion of humanity that cannot or will not ever be "happy." This fact does not seem like it jibes with biology, does it? We assume that most folks like to feel good, comfortable, content, pleased, and hopeful, because all those feelings/states release powerful endorphins into the body, making us physically and mentally better off. But some are not fed by this; there are other even more powerful reinforcers for them.
(And let's get this right out of the way: money has almost nothing to do with happiness. This has been shown in study after study, in every country in the world. It's a shocking thought, in a capitalist country like America, that all your hard work and upward mobility striving won't necessarily bring you any closer to feeling good about yourself and your life.)
So, why would anyone want to be unhappy? Here's three reasons.
1. Happy people are shallow and stupid. Unhappy people can have a real bias against the smiling; after all, there is such suffering by so many in the world and serious business to attend to! Happy people are ignorant and, frankly, offensive! How can you have any kind of soul if you aren't in a constant state of turmoil and dark reflection?
2. Happy people don't get as much attention. If you are constantly whining and complaining about your life and everything else in the world, you force others to attend to you, listen to you, and invest in you. If you are happy, people tend to figure you are doing pretty well and that you don't need your hand held as much or your bottom wiped.
3. Happy people are ill-prepared for the misery that will cut them down anyway. If you already are in pre-mourning, pre-hating, and pre-judging mode, and walk around with suspicion and fear around you like a quivering doomy forcefield, at least you aren't going to be surprised when something bad happens. You are ready! You also have an excuse to never try to change yourself or anything for the better, since it's all crap anyway.
Does this sound familiar at all? Is this someone you know? Is it you?
Some will never change, and will spend their entire lifetimes angry and sad, never truly understanding where the bitterness and emptiness came from, or how to fill their endless pits of need. But some people can find the cojones to change their lives and perspectives, in big and small ways, and can begin to enjoy the world and their relationships far more.
And with that I bring to your attention today's launch of Action For Happiness, formed by a group of smart and not-at-all-shallow Brits who know that there's science behind happiness, and information to share. Here's their video.
If you are headed for a tombstone that reads, "Well, He Was Pretty Much A Miserable Bastard," be honest with yourself, and grow some...well, you know...and have the courage to be better, for yourself and everyone else. It makes a difference.
Do you want to be happy?