Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Life

I just Googled "happiness."  Holy smokes.  Do it yourself.  Take the ride.  Start with Wikipedia, of course, and work your way down from there.  If you are like me, the reading might stress you out.  It might make you worry or even make you miserable.  I am afraid I won't live as long as others who are "happy."  I don't have a wife, a religion. . . . Oy!  I like reading that 50% of happiness is genetic.  My 50% is the cause.  I can meditate.  I can adopt a positive frame of mind.  But man, those Dutch and German genes come straight from "The Sorrows of Young Werther."  I am melancholy by nature. 

I haven't read far enough yet to come to a definite conclusion about the connection between pleasure and happiness, but I am Buddhist enough to know that seeking pleasure is a bad way to find happiness.  But I had better Google "pleasure" and see how it is divided up.  Some pleasures, like the pleasure of a happy family, are different than the drug consuming pleasure that often cause families to dissolve. 

I've never been a real fan of "happy," but as I get older, it seems more and more a good thing.  It is not profound, but it is peaceful and I am all for peace.  Recent studies show that the happiest people in the world live in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and yes. . . even Finland.  Switzerland and the Netherlands, too. 

You don't, however, want to live in Africa or the Middle East.  They are not a happy people. 

It makes me think, however, that the definition of "happiness" is a western construct.  Perhaps it is all in the way we define and measure the term.  If I look at the bunny hutch and trailer park communities around me, I think, "Whoa, there are a lot of unhappy people here."  I grew up in those communities, and that is my experience.  There is more anger and more discontent.  And that, perhaps, is where the chasm between pleasure and happiness becomes clearest to me.  Bubba sure wasn't happy, but he took a lot of pleasure from getting fucked up and beating people.  Often enough, the boys in my neighborhood took pleasure from fucking other people's shit up.  Hell, it may have even been joy. 

The seventeen year old boy who was just convicted of shooting the baseball player in Oklahoma (?) said he and his buddies did it because they were bored.  I think I grew up with them. 

It seems to me that the popular thinking on this is flawed, though.  Sweden adopted lots of Somalians.  They thought it would make them happy.  Oops.  That, it seems, didn't work out as planned.  Immigrants to Italy and France, either.  Have you known people who have adopted children?  It seems a compromise at best. 

So. . . if I decide to move to a happy country like Norway or Denmark or even Australia, do you think I will be happier or do you think I will sink their world standing just a little bit?  I have to wonder how that works.  I don't think that I would be happier in Australia, though.  I hardly have an itch to visit Australia.  I think I'd rather have angst in New York City.  Q has been writing about his week in the city and how much happier he is there. 

My happiest friend lives in Yosemite, and I think that is where I might be happiest, too.  It is my spiritual homeland, I say.  There is nothing like the Sierras.  I will go this year.  I have been offered my friend's house for a number of weeks in July.  There is hardly anything better. 

But today, I must live with my troubles.  I must go to the factory, then the gym, etc.  It is not a difficult life and most people in the world would trade with me without hesitation.  And perhaps, in truth, it is the thought of how easy a life I have and the thought of what it would be like to live without it that buggers me.  And thinking about it just now, I am certain of it. 

So. . . I guess I'd better go now so that I can enjoy this happy life.

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