Blogger Ian Welsh says the first step to being happy is to stop making yourself unhappy.
I live in a single room, in a downscale neighborhood. I sleep on some pads on the floor. I am in debt, and I have a couple of serious health problems.
I am also happy most of the time.
I’ll be sitting in my garret and thinking, “God, life is amazing. This is wonderful.”
And I’ll laugh and mock myself, “What’s good about this? You’re poor, sick, overweight, and broke.” All that is true, but I’m happy (and my health is improving, no worries, I don’t expect to die soon, though who knows).
So I’m going to give some unsolicited advice on how to be happy even though your life sucks, because, well, I’m pretty good at it.
The first step is to not be unhappy.
(Insert head smacking motion from readers.)
Seriously, though, start there. Or, as I like to say: “The whole of the path is not giving a fuck.”
Run out of fucks. Do not restock. Life will seem a lot better.
Please don’t mistake Welsh’s philosophy for indifference to the world or other people. He is engaged with the world through his excellent political blog. He is concerned about world events. He just doesn’t let world events make him miserable.
Humans are made to be happy most of the time. They have to learn how to be unhappy. Stop being unhappy, and the upside will probably take care of itself.
Unhappiness isn’t a choice: You didn’t really make it. It’s not your fault. You fell into it due to the circumstances of your life and your history. Nor can you choose, by an act of will, to stop being unhappy. But you can, over time, learn not to be unhappy, to not dwell on the bad, and to let your natural happy nature take the fore.
Imagine that puppy licking your face, and when bad shit happens, redirect. If you can’t redirect, simply sit with the badness, not judging it, till it loses its power. And refuse to let other people’s unhappiness make you unhappy, except as required by immediate circumstances. If your friend is sick, commiserate and feel bad for a bit, but don’t take that with you, and never let the suffering of complete strangers or imagined futures wreck you.
The whole of the path is not giving a fuck. Run out of fucks and don’t restock, and the sun will rise again and light your world up in a way it may not have been lit since you were a child. Human nature is happy.
Clear the detritus out, and it will bloom.
Click on A Note on Happiness to read the whole thing. The comment thread is interesting, too.