I just watched this move entitled, simply, Happy. I was very pleased. I happen to be one of those people who gets down in the dumps sometimes, and I really have almost nothing to complain about. I simply don’t use my mind resourcefully. I think a lot about things that aren’t very important in the grand scheme of things. And most importantly, I tend to isolate from other people.
That seems to be a biggy when it comes to happiness.
This movie challenges our cultural habit of pursuing external sources for happiness instead of internal sources. It looks at people in our culture and in other cultures who are happy. Who consider themselves happy. Who have deep connections to friends and family. And who find great meaning in their own lives. And who enjoy living every single day.
I have always dismissed people who say they are happy as being slightly deluded or just plain simple in the Forest Gump sort of way. But this movie makes me change my opinion. I think now it is me who could learn to use his brain more resourcefully.
Apparently, if you don’t use your brain and “do” happiness, your brain adapts and is less able to do happiness. Just like a muscle, our brain appears to adapt to being happy.
I think it’s odd that when I am with people, I usually have a relatively easy time connecting. And yet, I spend most of my time not connecting with people. I connect with machines instead. But machines are rather unable to make me feel connected. Yet, I guess I have trust issues about being accepted. I suppose I am keen on noticing differences between people rather than noticing similarities. And I fear that those differences will eventually lead to my being rejected. I can’t recall that ever happening, me being rejected. Perhaps in high school or grade school, but otherwise not so much. Yet, I go on isolating. By default, anyway.
It could also be that I change a lot. At least parts of me change. And perhaps I fear that those changes make me a riskier person to love, because what you love in me today might be gone tomorrow. For example, in life I do a crazy Ivan every so often. If you’ll remember from Tom Clancy’s book, The Hunt for Red October, the American fast attack subs would follow the Russian boomers, and just to make sure that no one was following them, the Russian subs would do a spontaneous 360 degree turn with their active sonar array in tow, and anyone in their rear “blind spot” would be discovered. I like that metaphore for life. I think we all have our blind spots, and it’s a good idea to do something different, like some sort of 360 degree turn, where you look at your fundamental value systems and try to see your own blind spots as best you can. Or at least see something that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see in your day-to-day life.
I recently did that with competitive shooting sports. I decided that I was spending too much energy getting really good at shooting paper targets so that I could perform skillfully in a real-world shooting, that I was spending too much time being afraid and too little time being compassionate and loving of my fellow human beings. I also had gotten lead poisoning in my blood. It was affecting my cognitive functions. Well, I’ve since gotten the lead out, and I look at shooting sports primarily as a social outlet now. And it’s fun.
But that was a change. A rather big change for me, at least on the inside. Also, I recently started studying programming. Python programming to be exact. I think I’ve put programmers up on a sort of pedistal, and I’ve not taken the challenge of taking programming classes myself. I’ve been a self-taught, book learning sort of shell scripter, but since November of last year, I’ve taken the O’Reilly School of Technology courses on Python. We’re getting into the language quite a big; I’ll be starting the fourth class–Advanced Python. It’s an adjustment starting to consider that my level of knowlege of the Python language is advanced. Not my experience, but at least my classroom learning, so to speak. Cool. But it’s an adjustment. We’ll see how I do in the real world when I get a job! 🙂
In thinking about my own failings when it comes to happiness, I seem to look to external sources for happiness by default–which is a mistake. Also, connecting to friends and family needs to be a huge priority rather than a hobby or peripheral task. That would be one of the biggest changes of all for me!