There is a dirty belief we pass around, and it plagues our instinctual abilities. This dirty thought is to tell yourself—at the moment where you feel frustrated and fed up: Be happy that things aren’t worse, you have it better than most people.
Do you constantly listen to the news, jumping on a sick cycle of experiencing other people’s misery and woe and chanting to yourself, “At least that’s not me, at least I have things to be thankful for!”
Shut up. How lazy can we get when it comes to creating our personal happiness?
Don’t tell yourself it could be worse as an excuse to keep yourself pinned down. If you feel like there is more for you out there, do something about it!
This past weekend an older woman turned to me and said, “It’s like you’re invisible, did you know that you were invisible?” as people cut in front of me in line at the movie theater. Twice. And then again.
I smiled, turned to her and said, “I know. It’s always been this way. It’s ok.”
It really isn’t ok, but I have bigger things to worry about. If someone needs to cut in front of me on a line it’s probably because they’re going to die before me, or poop their pants. So I let them cut in front of me and enjoy the fact that I will have a longer life and clean underwear. But that’s as far as I want my it could be worse excuses to go.
My “I’m so thankful for this…” and “I’m grateful for that…” and “I have so much to be happy about” bullshit bubble is about to burst. It doesn’t mean I have nothing to be grateful for. It just means I want to cultivate my personal happiness. Maybe I just want to have more to be grateful for.
This is how it feels:
There is this gap between where I am and where I want to be. And I know that gap is closing because the closer I get, the more I want to be there, and the more dissatisfied I feel with everything because I am starting to understand what really matters to me.
I want to be as consistently happy as possible, and that’s more than reasonable. Can you ever really close the gap? Can you actually reach Nirvana? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s better to spend your life trying to reach Nirvana than getting comfortable and dusty in your own personal hell.
I do not hate every aspect of my life. I see that I have plenty to be thankful for. I don’t want to throw away what I have or run away from it.
I’ve done my share of running away from problems. Do you know what happens when you run away from problems? The universe plays a nasty trick on you, and deals you as many dark, unlucky cards as necessary to make you lose, and lose big, and then lose again, until it pushes you back to where you need to be in order to learn the lessons you stubbornly refused to learn in the first place.
What’s my lesson? It’s this: There is no better happiness anywhere but right here. Because happiness is not meant to be found elsewhere, it begins and ends and begins again within you. It becomes a part of the world you build for yourself. It’s a choice you make for yourself, without anyone else involved.
Now I’m finally seeing how I haven’t been selfish enough with myself. I’ve given in to other people, I let them cut me in line, I told myself I had it better than other people, I’ve been invisible to myself. It hurts to finally realize that now. But I’m not going to numb that pain away with the world’s woes. I’m going to try to cultivate happiness.
The secret to happiness is that in order to be happy, you have to do happy. You have to work on it. You have to try hard. You have to be a little selfish. You have to fight for it constantly. (Sometimes you can let people cut you in line because they’re going to poop their pants).
Fight for your spot on line. Fight for what you need. Sweat for it. Cry over it. Let it keep you up at night. Dream about it, then wake up devastated that it isn’t real. Tell everyone. Go everywhere. Try to find it and if you can’t find it, create it. Build it from dust. Open every door and if that’s not enough, burst through the roof.
Do everything you can to close the gap, and if you find that you can’t it’s ok. Surprise. You’ll never close it. But you’ve successfully created the space where you can be happy.
Go get ’em. You can have it better than you’ve ever imagined.