Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lisa's Sunday Sermon

If you ask me, Happiness is overrated.

I’m not referring to those naturally occurring moments of feeling happy. I’m talking about the grand LIE of being happy.

“I just want to be happy!” I personally would like to choke the next person I hear saying that. “Just” ? “All I want is a tiny little permanent state of bliss, is that so much to ask?”

BAAAAAAA. Whomp! Lambchops and mint. Delicious.

We have taken a natural human emotion and twisted and misconstrued it into a mythical, unattainable STATE OF BEING.

Happiness simply doesn’t exist in that form. Humans aren’t meant to exist in such a monochromatic state. We need the full spectrum.

We come to believe, at a very early age, (Thanks a fucking pantsful, Walt Disney!) that Happiness is a plane of existence we will eventually find ourselves in once we slay the dragon, find the perfect mate, become a beautiful swan, make a fortune, join that cult, write that book, divorce that bitch, lose those pounds, get that car or whatever- the- hell we believe will bring us to that blissful completeness.

There is a lot to be said for living our lives, accepting the mix of joy and misery and the contented, productive moments between.

Happiness is fleeting.
Know it when you’re in it, and it will always be a part of you.
Sadness is fleeting.
Know it when you’re in it, and it will always be a part of you.

Knowledge is permanent. Get some.

Here’s another favorite of mine:
“I’m terrified. Things are going so well I just know something is going to happen to mar my perfect day! (week, month, trip, etc)
Well, of course it will, you idiot. It already has.

Recognize good times when you’re in them, get through the bad times, learn something and get on with your life.

Who says the purpose of life is to BE HAPPY? It is a LIE!

The ‘pursuit of happiness’ is the eater and destroyer of life. Is it possible our forefathers knew this? Evil Bastards!!

Whether they did or not, it sure has us by the balls now. Wouldn’t you agree that “the pursuit of happiness’ is just this: a trap ?

We are hamsters on a wheel, chasing a myth, some of us until our last breath, at which we realize our mistake and there’s nothing left but to say, “Shit!”

I generally believe, if someone were to compile a list of final words, ‘shit’ would be way, way up there.
And just Who benefits from this PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS?

The Marketing Minions. Corporations. Our governments. Our churches. Panicked hamsters panting on their personal wheels generally don’t look behind the curtains.

We puppets, we sheep, run, run, run on the wheel. Nearly exhausted, we scamper on. If we work a little more overtime we can get the car, the facelift, the collectible DVD, the picture phone, whatever lame product the perfect, happy people in the commercials are drinking/eating/wearing/driving/fucking. We too will have arrived.
We will BE HAPPY. For EVER, Amen.

And, THAT’s how they snare us. Every sales pitch out there starts with convincing us that we are lacking something that, once acquired, will make us happy.

Look around you. Did that espresso machine do it for you? What about the exercise machine your laundry is hanging on?

There’s nothing wrong with Stuff. If there’s something out there that you think you’d enjoy having, that would make your life better, get it. Capitalism has its good points. Okay, one good point: We have lots of shiny CHOICES.

So Choose, but this time, with your eyes open, knowing that whatever you select will not bring you to a state of permanent happiness. Probably it's not worth blowing your rent money on.

There is a difference between Want and Need. A cute new pair of shoes can make us feel happy for a little while, and that’s okay. Said shoes will not bring us to a State of Lasting Bliss. That’s a fact.
KNOW this, and then choose.

Armed with this particular knowledge, we will be not be easy targets for marketing minions.

People who THINK FOR THEMSELVES rarely are.

GET OFF THE WHEEL. It eats up life.

If you must pursue something, go for knowledge. You don’t have to chase it. If you open your eyes, it will come to you. There is a never ending supply, plenty for everyone. It is free, non-exclusive, calorie-free and carries with it, very often, great joy.

Peace go with you, dear reader, and thank you.


Derek Ash said...

Well... I was pretty happy until I read that.

Robert/ GuardianAlien said...

Now that is funny! What a reponse :)

Anyway I agree Lisa, you've got to carry your happiness with you and then REMEMBER to look at it when you need it :)

Anonymous said...

This quote from Mohammed goes right with your post:
"Riches are not from abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind."
I'd add that our friends are our riches.

Anonymous said...

It's strange sometimes how you can find the most insightful message when you least expect it.

I came here from a link off Neil's blog, sniffing around out of mere curiousity.

I often feel like I am alone among the masses, moving the wrong way against the mindless herd. The shiny stuff has never moved me as much as everyone else, which has often led me to question the true purposes behind many things people take for granted. I have found this tends to make for rather unpopular conversation with others.

And yet, the core statement of this article, that lasting happiness is not normal, or even necessarily attainable, never really occurred to me. I will have to give this some thought. I love when something does that - make me question what I take for granted.

I am glad to see I am not completely alone in my thinking.

Anonymous said...

Lasting manic happiness is a lie, but I think you can live in a state of general contentment. I think everyone avoids flat out sadness when they can help it.

Commercials are evil because they make you feel like you need things. Getting stuff you want but know you don't need is lots of fun. My collection of books and movies is utterly superfluous and makes me very happy. So does chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Nora sent me here, 'cause all us almost-40's, post collegiate philosophes seem to share a generous helping of disillusionment with the status quo.

IMNSHO, happiness, sadness...any emotional state is fleeting. It's a mix of biochemicals that are a RESPONSE to conditions.

Conditions change. Usually by the second. Ergo, feelings change. It is a lie that a perpetual state of any emotion can be maintained. The chemicals in our bodies and brains just don't exist in those quantities. And I'm sure that the massive production of endorphins from a continual Happy High would kill us. In in case, to try and place some kind of spiritual purpose behind our emotions is like trying to say that water ripples because God farted. Phooey. It all stinks

However, that being said, there isn't anything wrong with the attempts to attain happiness. It's the striving that makes us who we are and defines the limits by which we live our lives. Personally, I don't put much stock in striving to obtain material items. These are transitory. For me, it's about the life experiences. It's part of that whole metaphysical journey thing.

My personal path towards happiness can be found in what I DO, not in what I HAVE. The joy I have in my family friends is because I share the enjoyment I get out of my activities, my science, and my creations. In return, they share their experiences with me. And certainly, there are plenty of times when we piss each other off. But then, just to sound like a another self-important and irrelevant cliche: every road has it's potholes.

You find "happiness" where you dig for it. But the real joy is in the digging.

david golbitz said...

I've found that I don't succumb to the siren call of the commercial very easily, if at all. You're absolutely right. Happiness is not something you can purchase. It's not a shiny, new thing.

The things I most want to buy, that I most enjoy, are all art, in some way, shape, or form.

Comics, books, CDs, DVDs, these are the things I enjoy. Not some fancy new cell phone that allows you to watch movie trailers or sports highlights.

Once again, I'm reminded of the brilliance of Fight Club:

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

Things don't make us happy, can't make us happy, but you're right, most people don't seem to realize this until it's too late.

"Shit" as your dying word.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Its the old, "its okay to possess things, but don't let things possess you" scenario and its very true.

My guess is that our Founding Fathers' idea of pursuit of happiness had more to do with being able to make an honest wage, have a home to call your own and raise your family, and have the freedom to pursue your dreams free from the tyranny of mother England. Sure, the seeds of capitalism were in existence then but I'm sure they never envisioned the monster that is American consumerism today.

I think its great to have things and even to pursue them as long as your priorities are right and you're spending a greater amount of time in building relationships with others and seeking spiritual balance. And the key is to enjoy those things once you have them. I agree with 1031, my purchases are generally comics, sci fi/fantasy art, collectibles, books. The thing is that I share these with others, write about them on my blog, display them and frequently pull things out to hold, look at, and remember any memories associated with them. I get continued enjoyment out of them rather than tossing them aside and looking for the next big purchase.

Good post Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Given that you are well, healthy, fed and your basic needs are met, then happiness will be with you all day long, as long as you look around you and appreciate what you have. And by that, I mean empathy and feeling for your fellow man. Take a baby's smile, a fleeting moment of something which connects two people if only for a second and therein lies happiness. Happiness is when you can see that and feel that something special which coexists between human beings. Achieve this with human eye contact, a smile, a show of warmth and the world will smile and be warm back to you. Think positively: every day is a fresh start and to be lived and enjoyed. There are two paths you can journey down - one is positive and one is negative, always move down the one that is positive and towards the bright sunshine of life. To many happy days .....