BY DEFAULT, IN OUR PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ARE WE INEVITABLY INVITING MORE STRESS INTO OUR LIVES?
When I started out my career as a professional 'self-help' junkie way back when Mario was da bomb, I would nervously pace the aisles of my local bookstore praying to Christ nobody saw me. As a coy, I would pretend to search for the only acceptable book I could think of at the time, “Alan Carrs - How to quit smoking” to conceal the real reason for my being there; something far more lethal than any cigarette: a fucked up mind.
Fast forward 15 years, and the one subject that currently trumps all goes right to the juggernaut of what we all seek: happiness. Regardless of the many scenic routes available, if you're a self-help junkie, it's not a Mary Poppins mindset that landed you here. It's stress, anger, fear, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and all that good shit that seems to be playing a far more prominent role in society today.
Thanks in large to a rebranding from 'self-help' to 'personal development,' Amazon, and dare I say it, social media, the desire to correct, and no longer accept the demons in one's mind, is greater than ever.
A 'happiness' search on Amazon (books) will fire back over 80,000 results. The fact that books on happiness reign supreme on best-seller lists highlight something incredibly disturbing: throughout our evolution, we have fundamentally failed to evolve in the one area of life we should have nailed by now - happiness. Without it, we fail by default in every other facet of life, i.e. money matters fuck all if one is miserable. In spite of the abundance of research on the subject, many of us continue to live our lives inconducive to what makes for a happy existence.
WHAT ABOUT OUR GOVERNMENTS:
We know the majority of governments don't want us happy; they want us broke, in debt, and at their mercy. Those greedy bastards aren't fooling anyone but for some reason, we still conform to the social norms passed down by them. Why? Because our fear of breaking the mould has been deeply ingrained in our consciousness from the day we hatched, and some thousands of years prior to that when it was essential for our very existence to fit in, and avoid being the first line of defense against some pissed off Grizzly Bears.
Governments will do everything in their power to manipulate us into believing we're happy. But we’re not happy. Clearly, we're going about it all wrong as stress related diseases scale to new heights.
Technology is a glorious mind fuck that enriches our lives in so many ways. For better or worse, it's here to stay and evolving faster than the dick on Trump's head. Human evolution simply can't keep up. Back in the stone age, we had thousands of years to figure out all we could do with rocks: namely death by stoning and igniting some fire. Today, every morning we wake up to 20 something IOS updates on our phones by companies who's mission is to make the world a better place.
The pace at which we live our lives is simply unsustainable if we want to live a life of vitality, health, and happiness. It's impossible to argue this as so many drop from the conveyor belt like lemmings into a pit of stress and anxiety. That mindset to speed things up is still very much there, but it's up to you to slow things down!
FALLING INTO THE TRAP:
A friend was doing everything right recently: loving life. He then began to feel guilty because he wasn't as stressed out as everybody else, so he allowed the whispers to impair his judgement. On somebodies recommendation, he took a 30-day vlog challenge because apparently, he wasn't contributing enough to the world. There was no reason for him to do this; he simply got sucked into the 'mob mentality' of more, more, more. The result of this? He found himself stressed out and pissed off. Thankfully, he had the good sense to abandon ship, and return to the life he was currently enjoying. Imagine that; we now feel guilty if we're having too much fun. You can watch his first video here.
I TOLD YOU ABOUT PETER, NOW LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT PAUL:
Paul wakes up everyday stressed out before he rushes out the door to a job he can't stand for eight hours or more. Following that, he goes to the gym (which he hates) to acquire some muscle. Paul arrives home around 8 pm, has dinner, and finally, makes his way to the couch for his daily dose of Netflix. At approx. 11 pm, he reluctantly tips off to bed terrified at the thought of hitting the repeat button in the morning. Finally, Friday. Paul heads straight to the bar with friends to celebrate making it through the week without punching someone in the face before waking up the next day hungover, dreading the fact that another week is imminent.
Paul's story is particularly worrisome because a day turns into a week, a week turns into a year, and a year turns into a lifetime. Where's the Government Health Warning? Before you know it, life has passed you by unless you take a stand, and start creating life on your terms. No, this doesn't necessarily mean telling your bosses to go fuck themselves and start living off the land. But, it does mean reprioritizing that which is important to you: aligning your fucks so to speak. Life is short; it's a gift - treat it accordingly.
Forget about being surrounded by loved ones. In a recent study, 80% of millennials said a life goal was to be rich. Millennials grew up in a world where money was plentiful. We (I just make the cut) also bore witness to the greatest economic collapse in history ensuring we will be the first ever generation to not out-earn our parents. Sucks for all I think you'll agree. However, we can be the first generation to heed the lessons from all the fuck ups of our predecessors and pave the way for future generations to live a happier more fulfilled life.
It doesn't end there, though, 50% also have a life goal to be famous which brings with it the curse of reality TV where executives will prey on the weakest minds to (you'll have to excuse my French here) fuck each other on TV in the name of profit. Just look at the evolution of Big Brother.
SO WHAT BRINGS UP HAPPINESS?
It’s important to re-iterate that happiness is an emotion, and therefore impossible to obtain on a permanent basis. In fact, fuck happiness. Contentment is a far better word as it's much easier to attain. The objective should be to tip the scales in favour of more positive emotions. Allow me to offer up a brief synopses to save you the trouble of reading 80,000 books;
- Money tops out at $75K which, on average, is the sweet spot where all the stress associated with money is taken care of. We're talking about emotional well-being.
- Without a doubt, the greatest way to create more happiness in your life is through solid relationships with those you love. Romantic, platonic, family, and work: relationships can make or break us. Therefore, the most worthwhile investment of time is that spent cultivating great relationships.
REMOVING YOURSELF FROM THAT WHICH MAKES YOU UNHAPPY:
Intuitively, we know the way we currently live our lives doesn't exactly allow for happiness to flourish. Have you ever stopped to think about all the ways in which you create unhappiness in your life? All you have to do is pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. When you are around great people and doing stuff you love - you're at ease, and your body is relaxed. When you are around negative people or partaking in activities you can't stand - your body is tense and stressed out. Heaven slash Hell.
Ok, you can't just walk away from a task because you experience momentary stress but you can get up and take a walk. You can limit the time you spend scrolling through social media, you can stop reading garbage on gossip websites, and you can stop engaging in the opinions war on social media. I could go on, and on, and on, and on. That's just some of what I do, what you do is up to you.
There are so many channels in which we invite stress into our lives. From the media we consume, websites we frequent, the company we keep, and the pressure we put ourselves under to be perfect. Even if it affects you on a micro level, it's having a negative impact on your outlook and overall happiness.
BACK TO RELATIONSHIPS:
By far and away the most complex and challenging, that which is important is rarely easy. As great as some relationships are, others can be extremely toxic. You will have people in your life that are sinister and condescending towards you for a multitude of reasons; the most prominent being that they're 'dicks,' or maybe it's nothing to do with you and a reflection of how they see themselves, and I'm the dick! You also have those that have your best intentions at heart, but their actions lead you to believe otherwise. Not an area of your life you want to pussy-foot around, it's important to address all that isn't working out for you, and in all likelihood, engage in a social cleanse.
"This is rarely fun for anyone involved, so it's advised to think long and hard about how best to go about it."
Maybe it’s a romantic partner that doesn't treat you with the respect you deserve? Maybe it's a friend who continues to put you down and make you feel inadequate? Maybe it's a condescending boss? Maybe it's a family member who is always making you doubt yourself while offering zero encouragement or support?
Most of us have a handful of friends who make us feel better about ourselves and more positive about life when we're in their presence. Those bubbly fuckers who just exude positivity, but not so much that it makes you want to puke or punch them in the face. I have a few, and I can’t express how much they mean to me. Everything is better in their presence as all stress just seems to evaporate. Little gems that should always be cherished. A social cleanse will create space for more people like this to come into your life.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might have relationships with people that love to put you down, play on your insecurities, and make you feel like shit. But for some reason, you accept it. You give up your time to be in their presence regardless of how bad they make you feel. Why would you be in a relationship with someone if you're not happy, and one of the reasons you're not happy is because of them? Time to step up and have some self-respect. Believe it or not, you can do better.
Some relationships are certainly worth fighting for, but many aren't worth the double quilted tissue you wipe your ass with. You don’t even have to say - 'hey, I’m breaking up with you' unless you actually have to break up with them. You simply reach the conclusion that time is precious, and you'd rather spend yours with those that make you feel good.
THE SOCIAL CLEANSE:
Consider this: you have three types of fuckers in your life - the positive fucker, the neutral fucker, and the negative fucker. Each and every fucker plays a pivotal role in your life.
- Positive fuckers are the cream of the crop. It's up to you to ensure you reciprocate that positivity before they go off and find someone more worthy of it.
- Neutral fuckers are just that. Most fuckers will fall into this category, and most neutral fuckers will be a positive fucker for at least a handful of fuckers in their life. It is what it is; they've got their shit, and you've got your shit. Nobodies harming anybody here, they might call you a prick from time to time, but they'll have the decency to do it behind your back so you'll be none the wiser!
- Negative fuckers are those that need to be told politely, or not, to fuck off, or at the very least, make the necessary amendments to climb the ladder into the neutral zone. Available in all forms, these fuckers rarely have anything uplifting to say, and will more often than not leave you feeling more deflated than Tom Brady's balls.*
To initiate the cleanse: grab your excel sheet and start assigning tags. Now that you know the good and the bad, it's time to execute and start squeezing the negative fuckers out to create space for more positive fuckers to come in and change your life for the better. Trim the fat - do not underestimate how much of a positive impact this can have on your overall health and happiness.
Hate your job? Unless you're a registered sex offender, you have a choice; you can do something about it or continue to be pissed off. I recommend the former. Don't let an awkward conversation or the pain of a job search be the reason you remain miserable. There are endless options out there. I've worked with a few people who've had a conversation with their boss about their anxiety, and specific parts of the job they found to be particularly stressful, and guess what? It was one of the best conversations they've ever had. Employers are becoming far more understanding so why not initiate the conversation? It's not their job to come up with a solution, so be sure to present one to them. In all likelihood, unless they're a complete prick or your request is outrageous, they will give it the consideration it deserves. In fact, you'll be helping them become a better leader so you could say you're doing them a favour. But maybe don't say that! Just initiating the conversation can be incredibly liberating, and if the response is unfavourable, you can always move on to option B. Quit, and work elsewhere.
There are endless reasons why you might not be suited to the company you work for, the boss you work for, or the colleagues you work with. If you remain there, you are volunteering yourself as a modern day slave. This is insanity considering all the options available. There is always a solution. If they don’t appreciate you, someone else will, and you might even earn a little more for your effort.
Everybody appears to be chasing happiness while paying little attention to all that causes them unhappiness. It's easy to pursue something, but it's not necessarily easy to attain; especially when we don't know what we're searching for. Why is it easier? Well, it's not, but we're conditioned to chase and continuously give more of ourselves. Our minds become over stimulated, and we suffer from mental exhaustion while throwing ourselves down every possible path. All for The Insufferable Pursuit of Happiness.
Toxins don’t just exist in a poor diet or from pollutants in the environment. The greatest toxin of all can be found within the company you keep (I hear cyanide is pretty bad also). You can eat all the Kale you want, but if you insist on accommodating toxic relationships, no amount of kale is going to cleanse you of the damage this can have on your health. We’ll avoid Ronald (McDonald) at all costs and complain incessantly about the quality of our food, but when it comes to our relationships, we'll take a passive attitude and just put up with those that cause us nothing but stress.
Start to address and reduce human toxins in your life today, and as a by-product, your happiness, self-respect, and confidence will alter the state of your being (where the fuck did that come from?).
You will have to decipher what’s important to you, and what's not. What you should release, hold onto, or address. What's worth fighting for, and what isn't. This thing called life; it's too short not to be in the presence of positive energy, and people you love. It's your life, nobody else's. We all own the rights to just one, so get out there and do what's right to ensure you make it a great one from here on in.
Some circumstances are extremely complicated, some not. I know one thing, though, part of growing up is letting go and moving on!
*I'm Patriots till I die and under no circumstances do I believe Tom Brady played any role in deflating those balls!
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