Con Survival Guide, Post #11: You Can’t Live Happily Ever After
How to Enjoy the Life You Have
I guess pretty much everybody knows by now that the whole fairy tale of living happily ever after is sort of an ephemeral fiction, but what most people don’t know is that living happily now is not necessarily a fiction. While the circumstances of our lives are largely determined by the dynamics of society and random circumstance (or, as Dr. McCoy would say, “Or in plain, non-Vulcan English: luck.”) A large percentage of our situation and outlook are controllable if you have the right information. There are a number of different types of people that are attracted to fandom and while almost all can be categorized as intelligent, they can be further divided into a number of categories. Among those categories are the successful on a professional track; unsuccessful on a professional track; handicapped, whether physically, with brain damage, or mentally ill; dysfunctional; spoiled to the point of having become dysfunctional; and women. These categories are by no means mutually exclusive, nor do they cover all the possibilities. The only reason that I include women in this list is because they are discriminated against in much the same way the handicapped are. Note: I differentiate between dysfunctional from privilege and dysfunctional from poverty, even though the results are similar. I am afraid that dysfunctional from privilege is harder to overcome. So now let’s discuss how to make our lives a little happier.
We have known for some time now that a person’s outlook can be altered to make them more successful. The problem is that most people don’t even know this, let alone have any idea how this works, and unfortunately there are many who are busy selling platitudes so that they can get rich off of you without any real value to you. While a positive attitude can be useful, people have succeeded with a negative attitude and even more people have succeeded with a neutral attitude. A lot depends on circumstance. If you look at people who are manic depressive, you will find that they frequently make a fortune during the periods of time when they are extremely happy and lose it all when they are depressed. People with a neutral (no expectations or attachment) but flexible attitude are more likely to survive POW situations and Nazi death camps, and be placed in charge of Japanese corporations, for example. People with positive outlooks can be very successful, and it does help with dealing with most people, but those people who were in Nazi death camps or in Vietnam POW camps who expected to be rescued by some certain time did very well until that time passed, even ones who kept resetting the date, were much less likely to survive than their counterparts who had no such expectations.
So we get to the first prerequisite for being successful and changing your situation, and this is a critical state that is ignored by “The Secret” and motivational speakers. The first requirement is accepting things as they are. This works best when you learn how to do it without any judgment. OK, so this is the situation.
The next step is to figure out what you want the situation to be, and the third step is to figure out how to get from A to B, which is to say, “How do I get from the way things are to the way I want them to be?”
This is true whether we’re talking about your weight, your psychological condition, or even your financial portfolio. This is the stage at which all of that visualizing what you want comes into play. Its real value is to program your subconscious to help you get what you want. You have to make your subconscious your ally, and it doesn’t matter whether you use meditation, the Silva method, hypnosis, The Secret, or role playing games.
Now, this next method comes after you’ve used creative visualization or cast a spell or whatever, and it is the most neglected and important step. This is where you get off your ass and start doing something about what you want. You need to break it into small steps, each of which takes you towards accomplishing one or more goals. During this step, you need to forget about the previous steps and just concentrate on getting the job done. This is not the time to sit around talking about what you’re going to do. This is the time to do it.
Now, if you’re not happy, you might want to make one of your first goals finding out what will make you happy. You’re also going to want to make sure you are healthy if at all possible and that means that if your doctor tells you that you can’t get any better, you need to tell him he’s wrong and find the doctor that will help you get better or do it yourself. I don’t care whether you’re seeing a homeopathic doctor, an MD, an OMD, an Ayurvedic doctor, or a Voodoo witch doctor, if they are not helping you get better they are not doing their job and you should fire them.
In general, you want to take a look at your basic needs such as food, shelter, air, water, security and health and try and satisfy those first. That does not mean that you cannot launch into a long-term project with a higher set of goals, but it does mean that you can keep an eye on those things that can sabotage your progress.
You want to surround yourself with people who are going to be helpful and have a positive, can-do attitude rather than telling you what you can’t do and cutting you down all the time.
As people as diverse as Dale Carnegie and Gautama Buddha have been pointing out for quite some time, what you dwell upon you become. Everything you watch, listen to, read, and think about programs your subconscious. If you watch reality shows about trailer trash losers, you will start to act more like a trailer trash loser. Your mind is your greatest tool and your greatest asset if you use it properly.
It does not require being a genius to make money in this society. In fact, three things that can tend to hamper your tendency to make money are being handicapped, being moral, or being really intelligent and not focusing on mundane matters. Three things that can help you make money are being one-pointed, having friends with common goals who work together, and already having money.
Here’s the thing, though. Money in and of itself won’t make you happy. Poverty can make you miserable. There are few things more miserable than watching your child die because you can’t afford to get them the medical care they need, for example. A certain amount of money, on the other hand, can make your life more comfortable and facilitate other actions. The real question is, how do you live happily ever after?
No one can say for sure what will happen tomorrow, so “ever after” is hard to guarantee. Today, on the other hand, is a lot easier, and if you learn to make each day happy then that adds up to an overall happy existence.
If you rely on people, things, or any kind of “-ism” to make you happy, it’s not going to work. All of these are attachments which inevitably lead to unhappiness to a certain extent. You have to give up the idea that, “When I get such-and-such item I will be happy.” Most likely, you believe that because someone else has told you that that’s what you should want, and if you get it you’re just going to find that you never really wanted it in the first place. You might want to figure out what you actually want, if you actually want something, even if the only thing you want is to be left alone.
If you’re going to be happy, you need to enjoy each moment of your life. To that end, it is absolutely essential that you give up worrying. It serves no purpose other than to dissipate your energy that could be better spent dealing with the situations that you’re worrying about.
While it may be good to find out what you enjoy doing and make that your work, you can choose to enjoy whatever you’re doing right now. Pretty much any job can be enjoyable. Yeah, OK, your boss or your co-worker may be an obnoxious so-and-so whom you don’t like to deal with, and wouldn’t it just grind their beans if you’re having a good time and enjoying doing the best possible example of your job? Who knows? You may even be able to turn their attitude around.
Sometimes the people I feel sorriest for are the ones that were raised with a credit card and a trust fund. They never learn the necessary skills for survival, and frequently find themselves struggling for the first time with the problems of an 18 year old during their 40s or 50s, with the maturity of a 12 year old, and by then it’s a lot harder to learn. Now, I’m not saying that you should reject resources that are available to you. In fact, that is something I have wished I had for years. What I’m saying is you have to learn to be self-reliant and not depend on others.
There are lots of techniques I could teach you to help with specific parts of this process, but really it’s your own responsibility. If this were one of my kung fu classes, I would give you an assignment based on your particular needs. Really, though, once you have your priorities in order, it’s largely a matter of not dwelling on the past or longing for the future, but living in the present. Now, by that I don’t mean being short-sighted and hedonistic in the common and improperly used meaning of the word. I mean that you should learn from the past, plan for the future, and concentrate on the Now.
In order to get my students to get their priorities in order, I tell them to hold their breath for 5 minutes because, growing up with asthma, I found that nothing will make you realize what is really important like not being able to breathe.
When they ask me what time it is, I typically look at my students and say, “It is now.” So remember, be here now.
Now, a small list of some things that you might find helpful:
- the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- the book Illusions
- the book The Tao of Pooh
- the book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
- the book Remember: Be Here Now
- the movie Circle of Iron
So if you want to live happily ever after, you really need to start by living happily right now. Each year is made up of about 365 days and if each one of them is bad, then the year is bad, but if each one is good, then so is the whole year.
Obviously, it won’t hurt if you continue reading my blog and getting additional tips on making your life better, but I can’t do it for you and neither can anyone else. If you want to be happy and have a good life, then you’re going to have to do it. The most miserable people I know are the ones who have had everything done for them, and they think that their problems comes from people not being willing to do things for them. Don’t blame others. Take responsibility for your own actions, and that means taking the credit for what you do right and the blame for what you do wrong.
Now, at this point I have to take issue with what I just said, because the whole mindset of blame in our society is rather thoroughly dysfunctional. Even guilt itself, like any other form of pain, no longer serves a purpose once you realize what you need to change. Now, if you don’t get up and actually change it, then that’s your own problem. So if you want to be happy, be happy. I realize that sounds like an obnoxious platitude, and I can guarantee you I’m against those, but in this case it’s practical advice.
Copyright © 2013 Julian Thomas Reid III