After days spent racking my brain to choose nine things you don’t need to be happy, now I can’t keep more from surfacing. If this list keeps growing, it might mean that happiness is attainable without anything at all. What a concept!
But just for fun, let’s continue counting. Here are 9 more things you don’t need to be happy. Really.
1. Optimism. There’s nothing more annoying than all the self-help mumbo jumbo that preaches “think positive” – and implies (explicitly or not) that by doing so, you will get what you want. This theory leaves us in the lurch and in fear of having even a speck of a negative thought. The universe is not directing the traffic of our lives according to our thoughts. We earth folk, although blessed with free will, are not more powerful than the randomness of life.
This is good news. If you happen to be a cynic or wake up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while, don’t fret. Having a positive outlook 24/7 is not required for happiness.
2. Caffeine. I’m actually sitting in Starbucks as I type this and it’s occurred to me that I could be a lot happier if there were fewer coffee shops serving rocket fuel to every human on the planet. Fewer Starbucks means fewer caffeinated people – and no landfill droves of millions of paper cups.
I was perfectly content for the six months I gave up coffee. Life was fine. But I can tell you this. The moment I took my first sip of a non-fat triple shot cappuccino after those six months, I was indeed rocketed into another dimension. I don’t need caffeine, but I like it. So there. Just don’t make me go to Coffee Bean. That’s where I draw the line.
3. God. Religion and anything related is a topic fraught with tension, but we shouldn’t ignore the obvious, which is that many people all over the world live life happily and successfully without worshiping or praying to any being. Organized religion is not the only road to salvation. Why is it that only the non-religious realize this?
4. Intelligence. I adamantly agree that women can be both smart and pretty, but if for some reason I had to choose, I think today I’d prefer pretty. Why? Because it gets tiring being smart. And I’m exhausted!
Most days I can’t watch the news, much less have an intelligent conversation about current events. Between the stock market, natural disasters, unstable psychopaths wreaking havoc on innocent people, world hunger, violence against women – I’m upset too often. What’s so horrible about a slight dose of ignorance? Call me stupid, but sometimes I’d prefer to be stupid.
5. Crystal Ball. The less I know about the future, the better. It used to be that I was riddled with fear if I couldn’t see how it all turned out; whether you’d stay or go, love me or leave me. So I would leave you first or better yet, never stay in the first place, because not knowing how and when it would end was too scary. Today I’m a different creature. I find comfort in the unknown and practice letting the future alone and being present for love and my life today.
6. Chanel handbag. Oops, how did this one get in here? I mean, really. No one needs a Chanel bag, period. And to be completely candid, I once purchased such a bag. It was at a time when my work was very lucrative and I thought (or hoped) a sophisticated, exquisitely made black bag would satisfy a deep yearning within me.
This morning I caught a glance of that particular Chanel hanging in my closet. Did it make me happy? When I first bought it, yes for about five minutes, but now…not so much. Actually, it makes me a little bit annoyed.
7. Resolved “issues“. I have no qualms telling you I go to therapy once a week. I’m one of those humans that grew up crooked and needed a little correcting. So be it. In fact, I think more people should be in therapy, especially married people.
Yes, a weekly appointment on my calendar means there is unfinished business, more “stuff” yet to come up and discuss. I continue to dig, deeper and wider and with more gusto. Why? Because the more I uncover, confront, grieve, accept, release, the better and happier I become. Everything need not be packaged up perfectly in a box with a bow, stored away in the basement in order for one to feel relief and some semblance of happiness.
8. Approval. We can’t control what other people think of us. People who don’t know you well will have perceptions and come to their own conclusions. The important thing is not to change yourself in order to get someone to like you. The key is not to care if they like you or not.
Of course, it would be ideal if everyone everywhere liked you, but if you love yourself and just one other person thinks you’re awesome, then you are. Quit trying to gain the adoration of people who don’t matter, and focus on the ones that do.
9. A reason. Did you predict we would end up here? If so, you win. It took me 17 reasons to realize 1) one might be happy and not care why or 2) one isn’t happy (or is) but doesn’t particularly appreciate someone feeding them reasons how or why or when one could or should be. Therefore, my last reason is a reason. It is possible to be happy for no reason at all.
So there, I said it. Now go and be happy, just because.
Image: con Costanza