I swear I don’t disagree just for the fun of it. I’m not a curmudgeon by nature, although I’ve always been a bit contrary. No, I just sometimes notice when things are dumb (by which I mean illogical, incomplete or otherwise incorrect). This of course contributes to my grumbliness, because so many commonly accepted ideas are dumb.
I figured I’d find some worthless fluff in an article entitled “15 Things You Should Give Up to be Happy,” but DANG. They really overdid it on the BS. Oversimplifications galore! I wouldn’t care, but you hear this crap all over the place, and I believe we deserve better cultural wisdom. (Or we could just go with this and think we’re all enlightened and shit without ever really challenging our poor little flabby brains. Be good to your brain and exercise it. It’s the only one you have.)
So, let’s analyze some well-meaning but stupid bullshit advice!
1. “Give up your need to always be right.”
There’s more wrong with this than an awkward split infinitive. They’re going for something along the lines of “You should be more concerned with building positive relationships with others than alienating them by refusing to accept that you might be wrong about something.” That’s all right advice there, but that’s not what they wrote. You SHOULD always need to be right, which means you should always be seeking truth. If you are, then, when someone says something contrary to your belief, you’ll listen and analyze it, and test it against your belief. If it holds up better, adopt it. So, you should not give up a need to be right – you should STRIVE to be right about everything.
2. Give up your need for control.
This one’s too easy. Don’t be a manipulative creepster. Let your kids wear unmatched socks. BUT, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Sometimes we do NEED to be in control. You can’t leave everything up to the Universe. Make a damn decision!! Take a certain amount of responsibility for your life! Which leads us to…
3. Give up on blame.
Said the idiot policy-maker who caused problems x, y and z.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.
Unless you’re, say, Hitler. Or if you’re just trying to accomplish something that’s at least fairly bad. That’s right – it’ll never work out; might as well quit and go get a smoothie.
5. Give up your limiting beliefs.
I like this one to a point. Think outside of the box, etc. Just don’t give up on basic logic. You know, you should be able to recognize cause/effect relationships. “That’s taking it a bit far, Conservative Werewolf. Obviously they don’t mean that. Why do you think you need to warn people against that?” I dunno; why are people Marxists? (Remember kids: Communism CAN work – it just hasn’t been implemented properly yet! – You know, I just realized liberals explain away failed economic policies by claiming not enough money was spent… but they don’t claim Communism has failed repeatedly by claiming not enough innocent people were murdered… And yet, it would probably be so much easier to manage your comrades if there were fewer of them… but that’s a conspiracy theory for another day. Moving on.)
6. Give up complaining.
NEVER. How about, only complain about things that actually suck, like Obamacare?
7. Give up the luxury of criticism.
What the F are these people about? Yes, it’s probably better for the soul to be affirming, but you can’t just stick to positives all the time. Sometimes you need to explain why something is wrong/dangerous/just will not work. Balance, folks. Balance.
8. Give up your need to impress others.
Yeah, this one’s all right. Except for when it’s not. Stand up straight and speak clearly, using at least mostly correct grammar, and don’t say stupid shit. And just don’t talk too much if you’re not sure you can handle that. You actually DO need to impress others sometimes. Just don’t let it crush your little heart if you work really hard and people weren’t impressed. You need to be okay just doing the right thing consistently, being kind, being CORRECT (it helps). I guess this is what they were going for, but when someone says, “Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you,” I have to call bullshit on it. What if you’re just not polite? Or consistently not-smelly? Or hard-working, or focused or disciplined? Some things need to be learned. And you know what? In this world of low-to-no standards, just being competent can be impressive.
9. Give up your resistance to change.
“Change is good.” Except for when it’s not: hurricanes, tornadoes, bloody revolutions that end with brutal dictators in power, you get the idea.
10. Give up labels.
Ugh, the inanity just keeps going! How about this: don’t judge inaccurately. Label correctly. I mean, what, are we supposed to stop using words to name and describe things? Actually, maybe labels are unfair – calling one kingdom “animalia” and another “fungi” can lead to harmful generalizations and even -GASP- judgments!
11. Give up on your fears.
“Nooo, don’t give up on me!!” -your fears. To paraphrase some president who didn’t know what he was talking about, the only thing we have to fear is idiocy masquerading as intelligence (or evil masquerading as good, but I think it all boils down to the same thing).
12. Give up your excuses.
Generally good advice. Unless you have a REALLY good excuse. “What’s your excuse for not responding appropriately to your government-mandated survey?” Have a good one ready. I’m not giving you mine. :)
13. Give up the past.
Yeah, they tried to do that under Mao. That was a clusterfuck.
14. Give up attachment.
Oh, but then we’d have no good sappy movies! I need my sappy movies. Oh, and LOVE. And LOYALTY. Not weird possessive emotions or doing a job because your dad’s in the mob. You know what I mean. And if you don’t, you’re a vampire. The list is correct that real love is pure, kind and selfless. It’s also sometimes a kick in the pants when you need it, so I don’t know how they figure that real love leads to tolerance, as they claim. Tolerance is not a virtue. We all need to tolerate certain things to live on the same planet without killing each other, and some people could do better at that. But tolerating bullshit is not love: it’s enabling. And that’s fucked up.
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.
Unless you’re a hippie. Then get a damn job. And if you can’t, vote for some conservatives. Then, after the economy improves, get a damn job.
Why do I do this to myself? I’m sure if you were wondering why I clicked on that link in the first place, you aren’t any longer.
You know what you can do to be happy? Here’s my list:
1. Get enough sleep.
2. Get up and do something – something GOOD. Or at least neutral.
3. Be grateful. This can be hard. Keep trying.
4. Love everyone. Even yourself. And ACT like it. If you’re a douchebag, you need to realize that’s not being loving and straighten yourself the fuck up.
5. Be the best person you can. And remember that best is the superlative form of good. Are you being a good person? Not like, eh, mostly, but seriously? Do you know what it means to be a good person? Have you put any thought into it? If not, you need to do this. And no, being a vegetarian/member of a political party/nice is not gonna do it.
6. Only beat yourself up enough to motivate yourself to do better next time.
7. Don’t seek happiness in things that don’t actually produce/allow for true joy. So, if you wanna make a gazillion dollars, go for it – just recognize that while accomplishment may bring satisfaction, and having options reduces stress, even rich people are perfectly capable of being unhappy (it’s a gift we humans/humanish people all seem to share).
8. The big secret: Don’t try so hard to be happy as to be good and virtuous. And let yourself feel good about being good. Just don’t get cocky, or someone will punch you in the face, and you’ll deserve it. :P
That’s about it. Maybe hug something furry and cute once in a while. But seriously, do not neglect #1.