Last fortnight I decided to be happy.
This was despite the advice of our resident psychologist Dr. Crabby Ass, author of part of last fortnight’s blog post: What to Do During an Outbreak of Happiness). (In case the word ‘fortnight’ is a mystery to you, google it!)
I’m a Capricorn. I have a habit of turning things into work, free time into anxiety (or naps), and busyness into resentment, creating a non-stop problem that I then have to move heaven and earth to solve. This is the course of my days, and is royally, well, dumb.
So I did some consulting on the Happiness Issue. Dr. Crabby Ass was out of town, so I had to use other sources.
The Board of Capricorns said to me, “We are not good at having fun. We don’t know how.”
However, if it’s one thing Capricorns know how to do, it’s work. So, ergo elipso I can work at learning how to have fun. It can’t be that hard. See I made an error using Latin and Esperanto right there and I’m laughing at it.
Given that I like complicated things that have no end in sight, which might also be called an addiction to the unachievable: I reaffirmed my decision to be a full participant in the world of joy.
TOO LAZY TO ACTUALLY BE ALIVE LET ALONE BE A CAP
This goal was perfect for me. I’m a Capricorn, or more accurately, a failed Capricorn because I’m lazy ( I should have been born under the sign of the Hammock), but I at least have the God-given sense to be upset about it, and so at least I have achieved a patrician sense of unhappiness which is marked, and some say, incurable. (I also think there should be such a thing as The Lifetime Under-Achievement Awards honoring those of us who failed to do what we could have done if we hadn’t been under the undue influence of the Slug Archetype.) The Capricornian answer to unhappiness would be to work harder at it, but since I’m actually too indolent to be Cap—you can see the inherent conundrum. I am a Capricorn by ironic accident, or perhaps due to too much Fetal Lassitude. (I’m amazed my embryo managed to develop at all). Somehow I must have leaned on the labor lever too soon…and then couldn’t be bothered to lean the other way and delay my birth just for four days, so that I could be an Aquarius instead, an air sign I have much in common with, including the wind used to power this blog.
So, as I went along I detected a possible catch-22 in this Pursuit of Happiness bit. If I turn everything into work and then don’t do the work…..?
CAN YOU POSSIBLY BE HAPPY IF YOU ARE THIS LAZY?
Like unhappiness, I think happiness should just alight on my shoulder and start singing, or whatever happiness actually does when it visits—I have no idea—and I walk around dreading being accidentally startled by it and then getting humiliated in front of my friends. This creates a kind of vigilance whereupon one is “on the lookout for happiness,” so one can see it coming. It helps to live either in the plains states or the desert where there is the gift of the horizon and a 365 degree view of the interloper. I don’t just want happiness to spring upon me unannounced. I want to be prepared. I want to make it welcome. I want to do the right thing. What if it comes and I’m not ready? Will I have it wait outside until I make up the guest bed, or build a new addition onto my house, or have someone else do it because I am basically inert? (I should really be on a periodic chart somewhere between Argon and Krypton because I make them look positively aerobic, as in the exercise craze of the 80’s, not as in oxidation).
(I’m all the way to the right, third row down)
Will I be the one to make Happiness stand outside in the cold with an Oscar Meyer snack pack, while I phone my friends and the crisis line because I don’t know what to fucking do now? How rude!
“Jesus Christ,” says the crisis line counselor, “At least give Mr. H a coat and maybe a shot of Grey Goose vodka while he waits.”
Carrying the comparison further, it may be that like an inert gas, my electron shell is more or less full (could have fooled me) and I, do not need to interact with other elements, Happiness included. So it is possible that I’m actually surrounded by The Big H, yet I really don’t need to interact, creating a whole ‘nother set of conditions that I never thought of before. (It’s my job as a mind, to invent problems that don’t exist). What if I don’t need Happiness to be Happy?
Does your mind hurt too right now? Laughing Coyote apologizes for your anguish. Maybe you can sue me. 🙂
What’s an element to do? It occurs to me that I, as an inert Capricorn with mind-overidentification, may not really need Happiness to be happy. I mean you don’t hear a lot of complaining coming from the right column of the periodic chart, do you? Argon isn’t saying, “Shit I wish I was plutonium.” Maybe the idea of happiness is causing unhappiness and we should get rid of the idea altogether.
Apparently inert elements (gases usually, going along with the Aquarius theme) have to be forced to interact with others….so does this mean that for me to experience happiness when I don’t really need to, given my condition, I will have to do so at some kind of gunpoint? Like a particle accelerator? Can you get one of those on the internet? Can Amazon deliver it on one of those new drone helicopter thingys with the dangerous blades?
More to the point: Is experiencing happiness at Acclerator Point really happiness? If I force myself to be happy at some kind of gunpoint, am I?
UNFORESEEABLE EFFECTS OF THE HAPPINESS PLAN
Most people in my situation have some sort of Happiness Plan, a bit like the old Soviet 5 year plans, but probably less effective, but we won’t find out for sure until one of us alights upon the little buggar: Happiness, brother of Joy, cousin of contentment, nephew of sloth, in order to implement The Plan. You don’t know what might happen if you got happiness. What if it’s followed by unhappiness? What if there is some kind of causal link? What if Happiness causes unhappiness and here we are, five minutes before the destruction of the rest of the middle class and democratic capitalism (following which we will be too busy surviving to have happiness as a stated goal, so we’ll let Canada, Sweden and India do it instead), but meanwhile we are unwittingly wasting what little window of opportunity we have left by creating unhappiness out of happiness because it’s inevitable?
Wow, what a field of idiots we are. See what happens when you don’t think about these things? Anyone with a horizon and a plan knows better. Of course it’s widely known that unhappiness follows unhappiness as well, so there’s a confounding variable there already. Damn it.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH HAPPINESS?
So what are you going to do with the happiness once you have it? Setting aside the problems of identification (are you happy without knowing it?), what do you do with it? What purpose does it have? People are goal oriented, not enjoyment oriented. Some research shows that Americans from the United States are among the most discontented people in the world, and have been for a while, not just since 2008, and we have the most material wealth on the planet. Instead of kicking back, at some point and saying, “Wow look at all this shit we have, let’s enjoy it,” we fill our leisure time with more work, thereby misunderstanding the “pursuit of happiness,” bit as being all there is. The Declaration of Independence says nothing about “enjoying what you’ve got, you greedy motherfuckers.”
The shock of suddenly being happy, well it can have profound effects. The problem of not knowing what happiness looks like means that it could be anywhere and everywhere, requiring a mode of vigilance, that I as a profoundly lazy person (Remember the Hammock!!!), cannot reasonably be expected to maintain. It could come from without: is that happiness? Is that happiness? No, that’s a building; no, that’s a wild boar: no, that’s a McDonald’s; no that’s a traffic jam, but wait, I didn’t really want to go to work, so maybe it is. Damn. Everything is context! From one perspective this is the worst fucking thing ever—this pile of cars on I-25 in Northern New Mexico—from another perspective: shit yeah. I can’t possibly go to work now!
Actually we must stop here and observe that the idea of a bona fide traffic jam anywhere in New Mexico, is truly hilarious. Other places have traffic jams. We have slight pauses in traffic flow. Although, since there are no other highways going North-South between Albuquerque and anywhere, if someone loses their shit and turns over, you will be truly not going anywhere for a while, and neither will anyone else because, yes, the NM highway patrol will close the interstate. Yes. You heard me. Elsewhere that would be tantamount to cancelling breathing, but here. . . problem with the road? Ah, fuck it, close it. Maybe we’ll open it later. But since there very little “somewhere to go” here anyway that probably doesn’t matter either ergo “happiness.” There’s nowhere to go and you don’t need to go there anyway, so get that Twix bar out of your glove compartment, sit back with some tunes in your little plastic cylinder called a car, and call it a good time.
HAPPINESS VIGILANCE: IT COULD BE ANYWHERE!!!!!
Happiness Vigilance also requires taking one’s pulse all the time, because in some cases, happiness can just arrive from within. No rhyme. No reason. Just suddenly “poof’ you are happy. It does happen. We aren’t really sure exactly if outer things cause happiness, or if happiness causes the outer things; it’s referred to in the social sciences as the “Chicken and the Happiness” question.
DIAGNOSING HAPPINESS: watch closely
Using the Happiness Watch method, a person has to monitor their inner feeling state all the time, in case of an outbreak of joy, contentment, peace, bliss, ecstasy and uncontrollable silliness, who are the isotopes of happiness. It’s a little like the decay of uranium, but without the toxicity and associated incidents of nearly spontaneous death for those of you who need a reference point.
So let me check: Am I feeling happy now? Now? How about now? No, that’s me just digesting a Twix bar. That? no that is genuine prissiness. How about now? Am I feeling happy now? What about now? How about now? Have I got it now?
The Laughing Coyote