I was driving down the road and passed a convenience store that advertised “Cigarettes, Coffee, Lottery!” I couldn’t help but think how pathetic we are, our species. That’s how we’re lured – by our vices, our weaknesses. And I wonder sometimes, is that all life is about? Our drinks, smokes, drugs, lottery tickets, junk food? At the end of the day, is that the only pleasure we get?
Day-to-day, we wait. In lines, in traffic …on hold as we’re passed from one customer service department to the next, each more clueless than the last as we are forced to repeat our issue over and over again.
Overpriced rent and car insurance, tedious little bills our parents didn’t have that add up fast like cell phones and internet; we now work to live instead of living to work.
This is a European saying that means we work to pay our bills and that’s about all we get. We are not doing it right. We shouldn’t live at work; we should work so we can actually live life and do what we enjoy. Because there are no do-overs and you only get one shot at this.
We deal with people who think only of themselves, people demand too much and give too little, partners who pretend to listen, but don’t really hear. Are our habits, creature comforts, the only things that are there for us? Some call them weaknesses. Perhaps they’re just the thing that keeps us from completely snapping? Falling to bits, temper tantrum, smashing the house apart, backhanding that snotty brat?
I can’t be the only one who wonders.
“I thought some more about animals. And this in turn made me think about humans. To be specific, I wondered what it is that makes humans, well…HUMAN? What IS human behavior? For example, we know what dog behavior is: dogs do doggy things-they chase sticks, sniff arses and they stick their heads out of moving car windows. And we know that cat behavior is: cats chase mice, rub up against your shin when they’re hungry and they have trouble deciding whether or not they want to exit a door or stay inside when you go to let them out. So what exactly is it that HUMANS do that is specifically human? The only activities I could think of that humans do that have no other animal equivalents were smoking, body-building and writing. That’s not much, considering how special we seem to think we are.” -Douglas Coupland “Life After God”.
Bodybuilding, smoking and writing. Is that it?
How are we so completely inept in knowing how to be happy and content – how to make ourselves happy and content – as a species?
How are we so completely devoid of the ability to be grateful for all the little things we have? Our legs. Our vision. Clean water. The fact that we are able to sleep at night and not worry about a bomb or a raid. That females can walk around at night in most areas and not worry.
But instead, we focus on our water bills. Or our sleep apnea and try to find more prescription pills. Our self-inflicted edema or obesity. Our debt that we elected to take on thinking we needed more stuff. Complaining about everything around us and whining about politics and jobs when we could be thinking about supply and demand and coming up with new ideas.
Most people never really get how good we have it, how to enjoy it all or how to be content. Even animals can figure that out.
What the fuck.
We live in an era of abundance with an attitude of lack.
Being happy is pretty simple. It’s a decision you make to BE that way. How you react to things. Being grateful every day. Slowing down to enjoy the moment instead of rushing through life, To-Do lists and work.
And, it’s not about getting what you want. It’s wanting what you have.
Put the lotto tickets and cigarettes down. For good. Stash that money in a little fund every single week and do something cool with it at the end of the year, like a vacation or going sky diving.
THAT will make you happy.
Ask any older or terminally ill person what they’ve enjoyed most in their lives and the answer is probably not going to be “working”, “smoking” or “buying lottery tickets”. Stop wasting time and money. Start living and being happy. Today.
8 thoughts on “Chapter 13: Ever Wonder…?”
You are a terrific writer. You’re able to articulate truisms we ponder but may not always find the words for.
Thank you! 🙂
Lots of good stuff April. But by now i expect it of you and you never disapoint
Perceptive as always April. Though I think that Coupland’s list is too short I get his point as well as yours. Frankly the reason we find happiness so difficult even when all of our basic needs are met, which as you know is not the case for a great many human beings unfortunately (including our own countries), is that we either don’t know how to be happy or if we do not in such a way as to be free from dispute by anyone else (the ancient Greek philosophers, who were much concerned with the subject, couldn’t agree so how can we?). Anyway one book I would recommend you read if you haven’t already is “The Conquest of Happiness” by Bertrand Russell which makes clear that being happy is an art, rather than as some people think a science. Strangely enough, I think the first time I heard something about the human condition and happiness was on “The Flintstones” of all things in an episode where the Great Gazoo tells Fred and Barney that their problem is that they don’t know the difference between what they only think they want and what they really want. They of course don’t get it and at that age neither did I, but fortunately I eventually figured it out more or less and so evidently have you. If only more people did.
Thank you! I’ll check that book out. I pretty much agree that it’s an art…or at least a conscious choice.
Another gem. Awesome April…loved this.