For most of my life, I though it was important to be an unhappy person. Not for any good reason -- I've been pretty fortunate. But because something could go wrong at any moment, because how dare I be any other way? With people suffering from diseases, famines, poverty and untold tragedies all over the world, how frivolous, and guilt-ridden, it would be to be happy!
Very recently, I've been wondering how much sense this all makes. True, if my expectations for happiness are low, I'm not likely to be disappointed. Nor is anyone ever going to accuse me of being frivolous. Unhappy, I can concentrate on serious things.
But the benefits vanish there, as another thought dawns. If I was happier, wouldn’t I do better work? Wouldn’t I stand a better chance of making the world a slightly better place in some way, if I had more spark and energy, instead of a depressed funk dragging me into inaction?
Maybe being happy would actually be okay.
In fact, happiness may be necessary, if I'm going to keep going. The things I write about are pretty serious - truth and deception, war and peace. I can't read, think or write about those subjects without sometimes falling into catatonic despair. If I'm going to wrestle with questions like "What makes people lie?" and "What makes people go to war?" I'm going to need more than an occasional bowl of popcorn and walk in the redwoods to pull me back. Maybe, just maybe, I can even do better work if I remember to laugh and pay attention to what makes me feel good.
What an incredible concept to come across at a time when I can no longer call myself a young man.
What an idea to have missed for so long.