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The Bad and the Ugly

March 27, 2013

I had made it through less than a chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project before I began brainstorming Things to Do to increase my happy-times quotient. About a minute later, the new, still-expanding Good list began to melt into the existing list of Musts and Shoulds (peppered already with some good stuff… I’m not all doom, gloom, and martyrdom) and the whole lot of it became overwhelming.

Full stop.

Try again.

So I tried to think of things I like or want, rather than things I could-should-would-must do. [crickets]. I have no idea. Dreams are for Fraggles. I’m really more of a Doozer.

Try again.

When I was getting divorced several years back I went to a counselor, because that’s what you’re Supposed to Do. I’m not sure what value I was supposed to be exacting from these visits, but I did enjoy talking with my very kindly, avuncular psychologist. I don’t remember much of these appointments, but I do remember two things he said to me as clear as if they happened yesterday (perhaps clearer, even – yesterday was Monday and I don’t remember much of it). Anyway, those two things were:

  1. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I’ve never gotten to write ‘father shot a monkey’ on a family tree before.”
  2. “You’re pretty good at knowing when something’s not good enough. But how do you know when something is good enough?”

This post isn’t about the monkey. I save that story for special moments when a chart-topping story needs to be told. But really, I have no idea what I want out of life and I never have. I’m just more of an editor than an artist. I can only tell you what Should Be by comparing to what Should Not. Don’t worry – I get by.

So maybe I could get at happiness partly by identifying what makes me Other than Happy (including, but not limited to, sad, lonely, or angry). This is what I’ve come up with:

  • Being late
  • Being unprepared
  • Being unable to find things
  • Having too little or too much time alone
  • Having too little or too much idle time
  • Feeling ugly
  • Things not working the way we all agreed they should

Over the next several days, I hope to tackle each of these in a bit more depth. But since sleep deprivation will exacerbate at least three of the above mentioned evils, I will call it quits for tonight, heeding the Sirens’ call of bedtime.

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