16 February 2007


Is it an illusion?

Are people who are 'generally' happy fake? Does happiness always seem contrived to you?

I had a conversation earlier.... "He" is a very cynical pessimist, I am a slightly cynical optimist. Part of the discussion had to do with choices. My opinion is that in general, people choose how to behave, how to react in given situations, how to deal with what is presented to us in life.

If someone is rude, they have made the choice to be rude. Yes, something may have happened in the moments before they were rude such that they aren't necessarily intending to be rude, but are distracted... I suppose that's where my optimistic side comes in. I really do think that a majority of people... presented with the options available, would choose to be kind to their fellow man, versus an asshole. But, I also think that we aren't trained to "see" those options very clearly, or at a moment's notice.

An example: I was leaving the mall today... Short Bus in the stroller in one hand, bags in the other, purse and diaper bag over my shoulder. A guy walked out the door just a few feet ahead of me, didn't bother to look behind him, and the door closed just as I got there. Not very nice, but nothing I'm going to stew over for hours... easy enough for me to use the 'reverse ass & hip' maneuver, and get out the door on my own (thank goodness it was a push and not a pull). No big deal. Though I did consider saying, "what? you don't look behind you when you go out a door?" Just to see his reaction.

Now really, do you think that guy thought extensively about being a jerk, or do you think he just walked through a door? Judging by the way he was dressed, I'd say he had just gotten off work, and was on his way home... or on a break or something. I don't think 'being polite to mall patrons' was on the top of his list at that moment. Let me tell you, I've been there, it's really not in the top 50 after a long day of customer service.

No, I don't know that for sure, but really... (1) does it matter? and (2) doesn't it make the world just slightly brighter to think that he had other things on his mind, and didn't mean to let the door close in my face? I mean, isn't that the difference between the optimist ("he didn't mean to, he just has other stuff on his mind") and the pessimist ("what a dick, he just slammed the door on me")?

About three years ago, I decided I preferred seeing the good side of people, so I started a little journal called "Restoring My Faith in Humanity." It was just a list of all the nice little things I noticed strangers doing for one another throughout the day; "someone held the door for me", "saw a stranger drop a pen, someone else picked it up for her", "heard someone say 'You're Welcome' instead of just grunting" stuff like that. But, the more I looked, the more I noticed... and suddenly, I didn't need to write it all down, I was constantly noticing all the little things people did for one another in the course of a normal day. Suddenly, my step was a bit lighter, and I was finding myself being a little more optimistic about the world around me.

So yes, I believe I have trained myself to be an optimist, I have made a choice and conscious effort to see the good in people, and in the world. I believe it is possible for a majority of people. Retrain yourself to actually notice all the little happy things in the world, and by golly, you WILL notice all those things.... and strangely enough, you will start to notice OTHER things that are good in the world.

I was told earlier (by my skeptical pessimist), that my brand of happiness is "fake," contrived if you will... I am "making it up."

Honestly, I take my happiness where I can get it... and enjoy it for as long as possible. Taking the bad things in stride and working with them as well as I can to get an outcome. Then I move on, and even in the midst of misery, I still pull those bits of joy wherever I can get them (even if I create them for myself)... and cling to them like little life preservers in a sea of sewage. If that's what it takes.

I really believe that life is (for most) what we make it. The old adage about stopping and smelling the roses works... even if you feel you are standing in the midst of a septic tank. If you look for the good, you will find it... sometimes its just hiding. And yes, sometimes you might have to dig through some pretty nasty junk, and get your hands a little dirty to find it. But, once you do, you know what you're looking for, and you realize its there, it will be easier to see in the future.

None of this means I don't listen to The Cure or The Smiths anymore, and yes, I still cry when I hear Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumors"... but, I suppose I take everything with a grain of salt these days. Good and bad always go together, you just have to want to see 'em both. And, sometimes if you blink, you'll miss it.

FYI: I have been wearing my flashing princess tiara while I write this... if you don't know what that is... just wait for faire (or look at pictures from Disneyland)... you'll know soon enough.

**disclaimer: I am in no way putting down or questioning anyone who is depressed, or otherwise diagnosed with any kind of mental disorder. Depression and anxiety are serious issues, and I implore you to talk with a therapist if you think you might even be a little depressed. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has gone (or is undergoing) help with/treatment for any and all mental issues.**


CamiKaos said...

Who wants to go through life being unhappy? If you can't help the unhappiness or depression yes you seek help...but other than that extreme I find a lot of unhappy people have chosen to be that way.

I've heard it said that once you've seen the dark side of human nature it's hard to focus on all the good a peron or people can do... at the time I thought that was a load of bunk, and I still do. Sure people can be assholes but they can also surprise you... and I find more often than not you'll find a nice person standing right next to you. They may be a nice person having a bad day... but a nice person none the less.

That doesn't mean I like them or would choose to spend time with them. I don't like most people most of the time... but my dislike of people doesn't make them a jerk... and it doesn't make me act like a jerk to them.

Bubblewench said...

If only your posting could be blown up to about 10 feet high and 10 feet wide so that everyone would read it and remember that yes, life is all about choices, and you have the choice to be an ass or not be an ass. I have lived long enough to know that, as far as I am concerned, everyone is a jerk to start off, but if you give them the benefit of the doubt, they can and will prove you wrong.

What I don't get is the poeple that KNOW about having this choice, and refuse to make it. Why continue on a path of stupidity and jerkiness, or unhappiness when you KNOW FULL WELL, you don't have to be that way? Sadly, I know too many people that refuse to make any choices that would bring them to happiness. Fear? Who knows. Sad though.