At the root of everything I write, this has become a conquest of happiness blog. All the goals we chase in life and all the things we pursue – have happiness as the seed of inception. These summary notes are the thoughts generated by reading books, listening to audio’s and putting one foot in front of the other.
Sitting on the side of a mountain, a boy and his father were on a bowhunting trip when a scene unfolded in the valley below.
The father pointed, “Do you see the wolves eating the deer from the rear up?
The boy watched fighting the desire to pull his eyes away, “Yes.”
“Do you know why they do that?”
“Do you think it is to let him enjoy life a little longer before they have to kill him? Maybe because they are sorry they are killing him?”
The boy watched the deer’s hind quarters crumble under it’s own weight.
“I don’t know,” the boy said looking away.
The father lit a cigarette, “They are keeping him barely alive so the meat stays fresh longer.”
The boy crunched his eyebrows and looked at his dad, “Is that why the factory gives us the weekends off?”
What Is Happiness?
Let’s consider this state of happiness: “I am placid and self-contained, not sweating and whining about my condition. Never do I lie awake in the dark and weep for my sins, or make others sick discussing my duty to God.
I am not dissatisfied, not demented with the mania of owning things. I am happy with only health, freedom and enough to eat. There is no kneeling to another of my kind, especially one that lived thousands of years ago. I am not respectable or unhappy. The sky is my roof and seas the walls of my domain.”
That’s based on a Walt Whitman passage and he was talking about animals. Laughter is a pretty good gauge as well. Some work I can laugh while doing. Other work…not so much.
If we take that baseline happiness and ignore all the media that tells us what is supposed to make us happy, we have our first question…
Work And Happiness
How much of our precious lives do we really need to waste at a fun sucking job we hate?
I am not talking about those that love their jobs. Some people love their work. There are lots of people out there that work eight to twelve hour days and love it. That’s awesome. If you’re happy, then you’ve solved the puzzle and shine on you crazy diamond.
Others though, have this itch to buck, like an unbreakable horse. If that’s you, then you have to keep bucking.
“The farmer looked up from tilling the field and wiped the sweat from his brow. He was already thinking about how nice the fishing would be down by the stream later. A few feet away sat a rabbit munching on the grass. It rolled on its back wiggling around while the sun soaked into its belly. The farmer continued to work his field. When he was done, he looked up at the clouds and a drop of rain ran down his cheek.”
We have a finite amount of time on this planet and we’ll aways be swinging back and forth between what must be done and what we would like to do. That is the reality. However, our environment and influences have steered us a little off course as to what we MUST do in my opinion. In doing all the MUSTS, we are missing out on a lot of the pure happiness available right in front of us daily.
Horseplay at work? Almost every construction site is a serious place. It’s safety related. Fantastic. I get that. But if you laugh and smile while you work, you are generally seen as annoying and slacking off. This is a horrible environment to spend the majority of your life.
Now on the other hand. If you get to tell jokes while you work, the days become fun. The work, less of a chore and more of a lifestyle. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the way society rolls.
Happiness Cat – The More You Chase, The More It Runs Away
Here’s the thing: Reading about travel never gets you anywhere. Seeking happiness is a doomed effort from the start. If travel makes you happy, go somewhere. You don’t need to seek happiness, simply fill your life with more of the things that make you happy. LAUGH AND LIVE.
Don’t change what makes you happy because it’s not the norm.
The bird sings it’s song in the morning and I am grateful. It does not sing the song I like, but the song inside its soul, and I am the better for it.
If everyone did and enjoyed the same things, what a boring world it would be.
“He looked for a new show to watch or a new pleasure in the cupboard because he could not see the field and stream for the building blocking the view.”
Unhappiness is not bad. It allows the opposite to be known. If unhappiness did not exist, there would only be “being,” and we wouldn’t recognize any moments of pure delight.
The moment of laughter in a joke is at the surprise. If everything was in stasis without any bad days, you’d never get those fantastic spikes.
So What Should You Do?
I hate should. Should is in front of everything I don’t want to do. I also don’t like its brother “Shouldn’t.” It keeps me from most fun things.
“Should” leads to faces full of the battle scars from the daily grind. Not a face of tired satisfaction like a farmer or a craftsman, but like a gnarled fighting dog, sent off to war every day to fight a battle it doesn’t care to be in.
These are the “Marks of weakness and woe.”
People that actively alter their lives to spend more time enjoying their own personal freedom are too busy to worry about destroying other people’s. They need the time to make something to provide to people in exchange for money which buys time and freedom. They are busy providing value. People that have nothing to offer, nothing going on, that are full of angst themselves, are the shit disturbers causing mayhem.
Destroying or taking someone else’s shit is the easiest and fastest route to a false sense of accomplishment. Often, it is to get things. The problem with things, is that they do not provide happiness. Not after the initial thrill. Not in the middle of the night when you wake up with a hole in your chest and stomach from the wretched emptiness that is your life. At that point you either decide to do something of personal worth that gives you a deep sense of satisfaction, or you latch onto another mothers tit. Do some drugs, change jobs, jump on another causes band wagon.
The More Choices You Have To Make, The Less Happy You’ll Be
Spend a little time harmonizing the parts of yourself so that you know the things you enjoy, the things you are good at, and you will know what you can absorb yourself in that is a great offering to people and yet, you feel compelled to do anyway.
The REAL work, is setting up your life to make this possible. The work isn’t the activity that makes you money. If you are really integrated, you are getting paid to do what you would do for free anyway.
If you have all the parts of yourself in harmony, then you are doing what you do if you had all the money you needed. I know people that don’t need jobs but work at clothing stores just because they enjoy opening the boxes and seeing what’s new. They also truly enjoy helping people look great. It gives them a sense of purpose and pleasure.
What is it that you feel compelled to do? That’s what you have to bring to the table. The thing you are compelled to do is what will give you that deep core sense of satisfaction.
If There’s No Satisfaction, It’s A Distraction – Focus
It’s a big world and there are people out there somewhere that totally dig what you like to do. You just have to find them. But here is the real clincher, if by chance no one ever likes what you do, you still do… and you’re happy in those moments of doing it. If you spend precious time grinding away at what you THINK others will like, and then they don’t, then no one wins.
This is one of the worst case scenarios. To push yourself, to grind away, to pull out all the stops of dedication, discipline, perseverance and work ethic …. only to find out no one gives a shit. You wasted all that time doing something you hated.
Some people experience this with job layoffs. Working with great ethic and dedication only to get laid off and find out your employer truly does not give a mouse tird about you and your family. Yet, you sacrificed concerts, birthday parties, and nights out with friends and family so you could show up on time and put out like a work horse.
Money isn’t the answer, it just helps. You can be rich and feel broke. You can also be broke and feel rich, but the zenith, the golden egg is getting money from providing value you feel compelled to give.
I burst to tell people about what I discover. This conquest of happiness blog series is a prime example. I feel compelled to share things with people because I find them to be so personally valuable.
I wish someone had shared it with me sooner. A feeling of thankfulness beams out to the people and authors who have shared information through works or deeds that have changed my life. A lot of them are dead and I would have liked to personally thank them for what they have done for me but that’s no longer an option.
When I find a book from the 1800’s with gems of knowledge, I don’t want them lost to time. I want to share them and preserve them.
I hope they know the effect their efforts had and are having on people and feel they had a life well lived.
Your Feet Get Wet When You Build A Bridge
I know it feels like you are swing at air some mornings. Your punching in anger at an enemy you can’t see, but you can feel him. You know he’s there. Eventually you get tired and stop punching. Maybe today you stop punching just for a bit, you’re a little beaten and you’ll wake up punching tomorrow. Eventually you convince yourself that it’s you and not some enemy out there, because you haven’t hit him yet and it’s been a long time fighting.
You’re not wrong. He’s there. What you are feeling is correct. The way you are living is not normal, it’s just accepted by the majority.
What you are feeling is a call to a more normal, natural state of existence. Numbers in compliance do not make something correct or acceptable.
Some days if feels unbearable but a few beers or a puff make it manageable. You still haven’t hit him, there appears to be no obvious external cause of your unhappiness and angst but it’s there. You feel it, and it appears inescapable.
“Should.” Fuck you “should.” Who are they to tell you what is right, appropriate, worthy, or what yardstick you measure your self worth against.
Disease – Suffering And Paying Your Dues
Just because they wasted years ineffectually paying their dues to an ungrateful master, doesn’t mean you need to waste your life doing the same.
You don’t need their work to fill your day and keep you occupied. You have ideas and passions that keep your ennui from rising from the pits to consume your soul knowing that the alarm clock with sound the start of another eight hour race of boredom. They haven’t beaten you yet.
The less you work at the mundane, the more humanity will benefit. You have something very unique to offer and the chances are, the thing that people hate about you, is the seed of your offering to the world.
Don’t know what you have to offer? Introspection is a start but only a start. Too much draws you away from the world and world contains the people that will pay you for what you bring to the table. Go out and do things. Do things that make you extraordinary. No ones pays the man that is on the same level as they are.
They’ve already had plenty of themselves and they’re sick of it.
Do something cool, then share about it with others. Show them how to do it. Or share the adventure itself so the bored fellow after work has an escape through your eyes. Show how you can make money doing it so the poor broke guy becomes inspired and sees a light in distance on his dark stormy sea.
(watch my little adventure in the conquest of happiness on youtube)
Getting outside your self and into adventure at the very least will make you happy with a full life. But it can open so many more doors than that.
You will fail. This is experience. At this point the majority have a pity party and a tale of woe to tell everyone they meet. There are a few however that realize experience is like the first stones of a bridge. You wade into the water to lay the stones. You get wet and cold. It sucks a little. BUT – soon the foundation is built, the bridge appears and you can use the bridge when it serves you.
If you cant get yourself out to do things by your own metal, get a stronger force to do it for you. Self-absorbed, holed up and unhappy? Join the army. You change in a hurry if you survive. (This is a large topic of discussion and I used it to make a point. There are several really big CONS of joining the military.)
Help Others But Take Care Of Yourself
Helping others, takes the focus off yourself and brings happiness.
At some point it is time to take charge of your own life. Most people are still walking around following the rights and wrongs handed down by their parents, church, teachers and law makers. They put the happiness of everyone else ahead of themselves. Sacrificial lambs.
Is that honorable? Maybe if you are looking for a pat on the back in the after life.
Doing the thing you want regardless of these influences does not mean you’ve established yourself. You come into your own when you can do these things, derive pleasure from them and not be shackled with guilt from the voices of past ghosts.
Look at hunting. Most hunters I know are not upset about coming home empty handed. A catch and some meat are something to be proud of and sought after, but the lack thereof is not a waste. A hunter gets two payoffs. The catch yes, but also the activity of the chase. The adventure.
Its not just the check, but the work. Can you find something to do with your time where you get the meat and enjoy the chase?
Unhappy people have something in common. They were kids deprived of a normal pleasure. Maybe freedom, sweets, eating in front of the TV or owning nice things. Now older they value that pleasure more than anything else. Everything they do is geared towards getting that thing, and then more of that thing.
Everything is formatted in their lives towards getting “it” as an end result. The sacrificial activities that they spend 90% of their time striving to get “it”, is given little thought.
90% of life can be given up in grinding slave type work in the pursuit of freedom. Ironic.
If It Loses It’s Shine – Let It Go
The wise person will be as happy as circumstances permit, and if he finds the pursuit of something to be painful beyond a point, he will go after something else where the travel is more enjoyable. The road of life is long. You may find the destination isn’t everything the tour book said it would be. If the view, company and adventure were good though. Who cares what the end brings?
The world can suck. It sucks the most when you pay attention to the things that suck. When you look at all the blue and green outside you overlook a lot of the blackness that is the shadows. By averting your gaze from the shadows they do not disappear but they don’t wither if you stare at them all day either. You just end up missing the sunny day. If you can simply open the shades and let the light in, great. Do that. Get rid of the shadows. If not, look at the sky.
Your Facebook feed can be full of shit news bringing you the end of the world, walls around countries and people cutting each others heads off. It can also be full of kittens and jokes. You’ll also find people holding open doors, bringing people meals and others talking to older people for hours simply to give them company. What you focus on is your choice but it will change how you feel about your days.
The more you know, the more you have to worry about, defend or take advantage of. A simple mind enjoys the simple things. A child with a twig squatting at the edge of a puddle. There for hours, happy as a kitten with a saucer of milk.
Challenges, Like Sand, Make Pearls
The game of football. Would you play it if there was no other team? If you could walk from one end to the other unimpeded? Likewise, once you have all the money you need, emptiness and unhappiness will return if you have no passion or cause to champion. The money can buy all kinds of solutions removing much of the challenges that, in overcoming them, made you happy. In the end, you realize that the obstacles are the things that make life interesting.
Not getting everything you want is a good thing. If everything you wanted simply appeared, you would have no process to enjoy. There would be no living, no adventures, no drama or conflict, no stories of deeds.
A wise river would stay where it was instead of striving towards the impossible task of filling the ocean. But it flows, wanders, and runs regardless. The river goes to the sea even though it will never fill it. Why bother? Because the river IS the RIVER. It is not the “filler of oceans.” If it did not move, it would be a lake and that is an entirely different thing. Seeing the river as a failure for not filling the ocean assumes that the time was wasted if the mission was not a success. The reality is that there is no other option for the river than to do what it is, lest it becomes something else. Perhaps the movement of the river is what the river is really about.
Why go through the trouble of planting a fruit tree that you will never live long enough to harvest from, unless the planting of the tree gives you pleasure. Or the thought of others being fed from your hand brings you happiness. There is a point in doing things simply for the pleasure of it. A string of pleasures are pearls on a necklace of life. When the necklace is complete, what is made of?
Here Bertrand Russell Author Of The Conquest Of Happiness Says Something Beautiful:
“The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts. Life is not to be conceived on the analogy of a melodrama in which the hero goes through incredible misfortunes for which he is compensated by a happy ending. I live and have my day, my son succeeds me and has his day, his son in turn succeeds him. What is there in all this to make a tragedy about? On the contrary, if I lived for ever the joys of life would inevitably in the end lose their savour.”
What an amazing passage. If the flame of life starts to die it’s time to either stoke it or leave it.
Misery Love Company But So Does Happiness
A friend is truthful and not always in agreement. Not soft and compliant. A friend is the grain of sand in an oyster, not candy to the cavity ridden child.
One of the biggest treasures is to be, and be in love. Music means more. Sunrises are shared to be remembered later together. Trips are told about through the eyes of another you care for while you smile.
I’ve travelled alone and at first it was very exciting, until the evening I sat on a stone brick wall, overlooking the ocean as the sun set. It was beautiful and in that moment I turned my head and no one else was there. I had no one to share it with and no one to remember it with later, maybe when I was older. I knew that no matter how well I ever described it to someone I didn’t know, it wouldn’t be the same as saying, “Honey, remember the time we…”
Money Makes Things Easier
One of the biggest advantage of money is it changes your ability to respond. It can change a pessimistic outlook to a positive one through knowledge that the vast majority of unforeseen circumstances can be handled by writing a cheque.
If you have food, shelter, love and heat, then you are blessed. Having food and shelter means you are doing better than the majority of the world. The feeling of struggle under these circumstances is self imposed. Usually due to your struggle to succeed. To the wanting of more and not appreciating exactly how well off you are.
For example, I have a lot of debt. Sometimes I feel like it’s been a struggle for many years to knock it down. It’s a slow process. Then I take a step back and realize that I’ve never been without shelter, cold, wet or hungry. Besides chosen outside adventures and mayhem. I have never been hungry to the point it was hard to fall asleep. Neither have I been without access to running water and a nice hot bath.
Who set the bar there and determined what success is anyway. What have you seen that you decided was success? More important, where did you see it and who wanted you to see it?
By all means, make yourself and successful as possible but it’s foolish to pass up the cookie while looking for the secret recipe.
Life too concentrated on the outcome of success becomes too anxious, efficient and systemized to be happy during the other 90% of your life.
After obtaining a good amount of leisure and security you need something larger than worldly success on your conquest of happiness. At some point you must find something that makes you happy and actually do it because more and more money is nothing until you find something you enjoy to spend it on. Debt will fall slowly and go away with proper finances and careful planning, youth will not return. Seize opportunities of joyful expression instead of sacrificing your way to old age.
I’ve spent the last 4 years writing my way out of debt so that I wouldn’t feel the pressure anymore. Today I went out and shot my bow in countryside with my buddy. I could have saved the money on gas and skipped it. I could have put in more time on the computer writing to earn more. But focusing 100% on outcome all the time drives you nuts.
Simply knowing your charted course is enough. If you rush towards the goal, the now slips by unnoticed. You get older, and older, and older, then die. When did you have your fun? Where was the big payoff? If you got it, was it worth all that sacrifice?
What would you say if I told you to make a cake and I gave you $20 to do it. You get to the store and see one of the ingredients, success – cost $20.
You would say, “I don’t have enough for the rest of the ingredients. Success is too expensive.”
Why are you learning stuff? To make more money or because you honestly crave knowledge for fun? Has learning more to make more money produced the desired outcome of a happier life?
Competition mode or the pursuit of a goal at the expense of real joy for too long produces nervous fatigue, escapism like smoking and drinking, extreme workouts (since relaxing has become impossible and everything must produce a result).Your work becomes sour and so does your leisure time. “The kind of down time which is quiet and restoring to the nerves becomes boring”
Can you stop? Are you able to walk off the race track and be ok with it? Can you walk away from a fight?
I spent the last week doing nothing that I didn’t want to besides going to work. It was great. I didn’t force the writing of this happiness blog. Working out only once, I took lots of naps and went to bed early. I even played some guitar and watched youtube videos on bladesmithing.
These are all things I wouldn’t usually do because I deemed them inefficient and unproductive uses of time. Guilt always pushes me to strive and succeed. To push off fun for the sake of a percentage of forward momentum.
I’m of the conviction that this is not the way. It’s not the way if you want to be happy. The happy way means you stop and kiss your wife when she comes in the room while you are writing. It means you pick up the cat when she rubs your leg instead of kicking her out of the room while your doing paper work. The happy way means you take the time to enjoy the moments as they pop up.
Finish non life threatening work later, if at all. It’s preposterous to blow off happiness for a few more points of efficiency. Especially on someone else’s chart. To what end man, to what end.
Notes to expand: let your activity be your exercise. Your energy for pleasure
Notes to expand: hunting and farming are living at the rawest form. They satisfy so much. They put us in nature, the place we came from. There is happiness in “the doing.”
Confusion And Stress Are Signals You’re Going The Wrong Direction
Confusion: Trying to find answers to the unanswerable will keep you frustrated. Seeking the unknowable is like skipping over the most tasty chocolate chip cookie ever made, sitting on the counter, while seeking the secret recipe from an illiterate dead man.
Modern society tells us to crank away at something we don’t like on a schedule we didn’t create, regardless of how we feel. There is no organic process. No ebb and flow, just go, go, go. Tired and bored at the end of the day. Drained and unable to do what matters to us. That which engages us fully. Instead our nervous system and body have been going all day on trivial humdrum.
All day long you interact with people regardless if you like them or not. Blunting all your natural response and instinctive actions. Putting on a mask of social correctness. Chipping, chipping away, this wears on you. If you keep stuffing it down, you have a mental breakdown. If you lose it, an outward fit. Welcome anger management. Hello medication. There must be something wrong with you, right?
You walk around all day with a sense of diffused rage from involuntary contact with strangers.
Some would rather be working a craft alone. A blacksmith in a shop honing his blade to the whir of a spinning stone. The crackling whisper of coals brought to temperature by puffing billows. You produce a work of pride at the end of the day. With your energy levels charged up, seek the enjoyment of likeminded people.
The fear of losing your job makes you meek and subservient to your bosses. This unnatural behaviour wears away at your pride and nervous system. But what if you were indifferent? Skilled passions give you options. Others will compensate you for them. Your freedom goes up. The corporate tit isn’t your only food source.
Todays Steps On Our Conquest Of Happiness Blog
- Know the things that make you happy. Make a list of all the things you truly enjoy. It’s worth the time to keep a running list and when you find yourself having a great time, add it to the list. Sometimes I forget. I can check my list and do any of the cool things on there.
- Find out what you can get rid of that will allow you to do these more. Is there is any way that you can monetize something you really enjoy doing? That’s what I did with this blog and my books. See if your hobby will allow you to buy your own time back.
- Take a little look for fear.(We’ll go into these deeper later) We will never get anywhere with fear or it’s cousins— Envy, Malice and Greed. Going forward on our conquest of happiness they are only obstacles not allies. They are a heavy bag to carry. We know whether they are there or not just as we would know Courage, Truth/Honesty, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness and Perseverance if they were our wingmen.
For example: You really enjoy working out. You want to do more of it and you are good at it. Go get certified and do some personal training at night. Eventually, that could turn into a full time job where you are one of those lucky people that says they love their job.
It’s a simple concept but the thing is, once you know what really makes you happy, then you can stop and do as much of it as you can. The more happy things you do, the more happy your whole life will be.
Then you see if you can get rid of the things that you don’t enjoy but not at the expense of missing out on the happiness you already have at your finger tips. And that’s the end this happiness blog post for today.
Next… we talk about laughing because generally speaking… it’s pretty tough to be sad if you’re busy laughing your ass off.