Are you Happy?
I’m constantly being told how to be happy.
8 step programs.
Before and as I was making my last album, The Death of Zossima, I was going through a really dark period, and being one that has a hard time accepting things I don’t like, I fought it hard, which included grasping at the above straws that the ‘experts’ said would fix everything and bring me back to ‘happy’.
Here’s what I learned:
They all lie. Every single one of them. Full of shit and their cup runneth over.
The lie wasn’t that they had found a path to their happiness (although I have a feeling the money generated from their books/courses contributed more to their happiness than the actual content they were peddling). The lie was that they had found a path for EVERYONE’S happiness.
As if we’re all uniform creatures who react the same way to any and all stimuli.
The lie on top of the lie?
Happiness as THE goal.
I think this idea often rubs people the wrong way. Case in point: A couple weeks after my son was born, Cait and I finally got out of the house with him and decided to go to church on a Sunday morning. At the time we were collectively a hot mess of humanity. Exhausted, shaken, on edge, shell shocked, etc. Anyway, I’ve got Duke strapped to my chest in one of those carriers that I was told cool dads use, and the pastor walks up to me gushing about my son. He was OBVIOUSLY happy at that moment. And then he asks, “Are you just SO happy?” And being that my brain was at half mast and I was on the verge of tears due to 45 minutes of sleep the previous week, I had no filter and immediately responded with, “Ummmm…no!”
The look on his face was priceless.
Then I got mad. I was mad that it was assumed that great things in life were supposed to make you happy. That my honest answer of his question was made to feel ‘wrong’. It’s a bit like asking a person climbing Mt Everest, as they're nearing the top and their body is shutting down from lack of calories and their brain is mush from lack of oxygen, if they’re ‘happy’...and EXPECTING them to say yes. In that moment, happiness is probably the last emotion they would use to describe their state of being. They wouldn’t quit, and they wouldn’t change anything, but…happy?
I’ve long tossed around this thought, especially when I’m in depressive states and don’t know what to do: What if happiness isn’t the goal? What if it should never be THE goal.
Don’t get me wrong. I like happy. Happy is awesome. But it’s also ephemeral and schizophrenic and often the antithesis of what we experience when we’re doing something worthwhile and difficult. So should it be THE thing?
And if not happy, what? What is THE pursuit?
And here’s where I don’t answer my own question. I have no idea.
Each of us is completely unique in this world, so sometimes I think it’s ‘purpose’. Find the thing that makes you feel most alive and pursue that with abandon.
And life is really short, so sometimes I think it’s ‘experience’. Suck as much marrow out of the few short years we have.
And life is really, really random, so sometimes I think it just doesn’t matter. Do what you do. It is what it is.
And life is fuckin’ hard, so sometimes I think it’s “just be kind.” Just. Be. Kind.
Again, I have no idea. But I DO know that happy is overrated.