I hate reading online lists on how to be happy. I feel like a kid being force-fed medicine. Exercise more? Practice mindfulness? Count my blessings? Blech! All those things sound horrible, especially when someone’s telling me I ought to do them. Plus, no one follows all 34 Ways to Live in a State of Near-Constant Ecstasy, even the weirdos who write them.
MY SORT OF HAPPINESS
Sure, family, friends, and productive work are keys to happiness. But what about wandering through a brand new, shiny city or a stretch of unexplored countryside? Or watching tea brew? Or catching the giggles and wiping away tears as you belly-laugh for an hour?
And what about having a strong cast of humans to look up to? I have one of my own. They make me strangely happy, in two ways. One, I’ve begun to realize that everyone is weird. Two, I’ve learned to find interest in and accept these weird people (self-acceptance, anyone?). Every human is your teacher, even (or especially?) the weird ones.
Some of my cast members would probably refuse to sit at the same dinner table together. That’s because I’m not looking for people who all agree. Rather, I’m looking for people with strong values. These sorts of people are harder and harder to find in this increasingly postmodern world. But isn’t it much more interesting to discover why Daphne demanded her bedroom be painted a screaming orange than to hear why Eustace decided the living room might as well be beige?
MY CAST OF HUMANS
Allow me to present my current cast of oddballs. First, Ray Bradbury, the ultimate writer: inimitable, prolific, near-delusional in his brilliance. Second, Ayn Rand, the towering philosophic mind, sharp as a knife’s edge, ruthless in her pursuit of rationality. Third, Spanish thinker Miguel de Unamuno, unflinchingly earnest, enamored of his homeland, drowning in a whirlpool of doubts. Fourth, Katie Hopkins, British commentator, offending vast swaths of the population with every remark but making me bend over in side-splitting laughter, tough as nails yet occasionally jaw-droppingly compassionate. Fifth, the biblical Jacob, devious trickster, seer of unimaginable glory, man who wrestled with God throughout the night though he was doomed to fail. And sixth, Margaret Thatcher: principled, powerful, purposeful.
PONDERING MY OWN ENTRY
I often wonder . . . where do I fit in? What must I do for induction into my own Hall of Fame? Should I work to acquire some of my heroes’ qualities? Or would I be an excellent misfit among them just the way I am?
Maybe I should pat myself on the back and accept Tom just the way he is. There is a certain goodness in that. But if I am truthful, I must acknowledge that there is much more work to be done before Tom can rightly join the motley crew. Luckily, the prospect of striving toward the legendary status of my current cast of humans makes me very happy indeed.