the lost man chronicles
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looking into happiness

Focus on what makes you happy.

Recently, there has been some questions raised about the worthiness of pursuing happiness. The debate was sparked by an article that Jon Gertner wrote for the New York Times Magazine on September 7, 2003 entitled "The Futile Pursuit of Happiness." His pessimistic conclusions were based on research from three psychologists and an economist. Calling it the "impact bias," they argue that there is a commonplace gap between what we emotionally predict will be the outcome of our actions and the actual (dis)satisfaction derived from our behavior over time.

Overall, the article is despondent and paints our weak intuitions blue all over.

Well, I'm here to paint them red-hot and ready-to-risk again. As the old saw, that timeless adage and advocate of wisdom says "you don't know until you try." And quite often when we do, we know most of the time, then and there, how and what we have chosen will savor next time.

Quite often this is why old people become unruly and seemingly old-fashioned, they've been through it all long enough to know exactly what they like. At least that's the case with the happier ones.

If you're unhappy, well that's probably your own damn fault. Try something other than what your doing, even if it means simply changing your perspective. If you don't like the potatoes or the peas, play with them and make yourself a happy face, start a food fight with the invalid lying next to you who annoys you with the TV on all day, and make those nurses work for their pay, because they all think your dirty old man anyway.

Of course, baby, I'm joking (snarl). For unless you saw Bubba Ho-Tep recently, and like me, have been jocularly pondering your ultimate demise, because you realize that you too will probably end up in a nursing home somewhere in the lonely state of Texas just like Elvis, you probably don't need to play with your food to maintain a certain state of bliss (for now).

Certainly, I found that I don't. The secret lies partly in keeping it simple. Less is more, and paradoxically, that mantra cannot be said, or better yet applied, all too often.

Be aware of your self and your surroundings, appreciate the little things, give and expect nothing in return, take risks, and, should you fall, realize it is not so hard to get back up again. All these, and many others, are easy rules to practice while pursuing happiness.

And it is amazing what some self-control will do too. Consume voraciously like everyone else and inevitably, you too will pay the price of greed and gluttony.

In the end, I know when and where and what makes me happy.

Granted, sometimes it may seem to be at the expense of someone else's values and woeful platitudes, but most of the time it is not, and actually serves to instill harmony where there wasn't any before.

Anything from a cheese sandwich I made myself, to creating a 100 Christmas cards - each signed with personal notes, to collecting and washing stones, to mystical sex with a wonderful lover—these have all proven to be some of my personal greatest pleasures. And inevitably, I will indulge in them over and over again. And yes, the prediction of my level of satisfaction will be accurate, if not exact.

"'So many poets have the courage to look into the abyss,' wrote Kenneth Koch in describing Nobel Prize-winning poet Saint-John Perse. 'But Perse had the courage to look into happiness.' It's a radical departure from what traditional astrologers say about you Scorpios, but I'd like to name Perse your patron saint for November. More than ever before, you now possess the capacity to set aside your fascination with darkness and gaze smartly into the complex depths of sweetness and light. Halloween costume suggestions: angel carrying a clipboard, cheery clown wearing a stethoscope and white doctor's coat, a bride with a blow-up doll of the Dalai Lama."

~ Free Will Astrology, Scorpio, October 31, 2002, Rob Brezsny,

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