Pretty easy, in theory. Just be happy. Choose it, as it were, over the alternative.
When presented with two options, happiness and it’s opposite, choose the former. Straight-forward, yeah?
We have this amazing 11 month old girl in our home right now, and I can spend hours just watching her be happy. Kids have it down to an art form. They can find pleasure in the simplest of things. Teddy, by JD Salinger, explained it best to me. When we’re born, we have everything figured out and know all that we need to know. We’re happy. Then a lot of us spend much of the rest of our lives filling up our brain buckets with useless worldly knowledge, knowledge that weighs us down. Heavy stuff. Dead weight that saps the joy out of life.
Because the world’s a dreary place … full of road rage and high fructose corn syrup and really bad TV shows. And that’s not even getting into genocide and tornadoes and earthquakes and idiots telling us that the world will end soon. And the key to finding happiness is not so much to solve all of these problems but to ignore them. Go ride a mountain bike or figure out string theory or paint or cook. Because there will always be more problems than solutions. But some problems aren’t worthy of being solved. You’re never going to stop that guy from cutting you off when you’re trying to merge onto the highway. You’re never going to get liberals and conservatives to realize that if they would stop yelling at each other and blaming each other for our collective problems, that we could actually get some work done in Washington. You’re never going to convince people that fast food is neither fast or actual food.
You’re born happy. Then around your teenage years, you figure out how unfair the world is and how nobody understands you, and you get heavy. Then you leave the house and are free, and once again, you’re happy. Then a few years out in the world, paying taxes, driving to work, standing in lines, crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation, wasting time in unemployment lines, sitting around waiting for a promotion … where was I going with that? Oh yeah, it’s heavy out there. So to get un-heavy … that’s the one thing, maybe, that Curly was talking about.
I could get all new age and zen now, but the engineer and mathematician part of me wants to just boil it down to a formula. Something measurable and observable. So here’s my attempt: Given two choices, happiness and unhappiness, choose happiness. But maybe that’s the key: to actually choose it and not wait for it to wash over us by accident.
On that note … I’m going to go out and take some pictures of my dog.