The Difference Between Misery and Unhappiness
One of the worse things that television has done to our society is to make everyone believe that if they don’t fit in or if they aren’t happy, then they need to go on some teenagers quest to find the meaning of life, get the girl, and ride off into the sunset. Self improvement is a constant quest. It’s not some short term thing you do to fight Ivan Drago or impress some girl so she’ll go to prom with you.
Here’s the bottom line: there is no real endgame to this journey we call life except for death. When the game is over, you are over. You need to be constantly moving forward, and constantly driving toward something better, or you fall off of the journey. There is no room for eternal happiness in that equation. If you were happy all the time, you would be content, and if you’re content you won’t have any will to get anything done.
Real life is full of ups and downs, and in the real world happiness is best in small doses. Think about it, most of the people reading this would be able to afford a smart phone, which means they probably also have homes and food. How much of that do you take for granted? How stoked would a homeless brother be to have what you have? Pretty damn stoked.
We should replace the “quest for happiness” with the quest for gratitude. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for your life, and thankful for the opportunities it provides you with.
And if you don’t “fit in” don’t think of that as a negative. Do you really want to fit in? If you’re a veteran, you went in the military because you wanted to be different in the first place. Even if you never served, why would you want to be like everyone else? You can’t be perfect and even if you were perfect someone would find fault with you.
So you don’t have to be happy. you don’t have to fit in, and you can’t be perfect. What should you be? The answer is not miserable. Miserable is different than not happy. A not happy person knows that there’s a possibility that they can be temporarily happy. A miserable person has forgotten their gratitude, and can’t see all the things that they should be thankful for. Not happy people realize they need to work to be happy more often. Miserable people are self imposed martyrs who see the world as being aligned against them, and they love to let everyone know about their suffering.
If you don’t have everything lined up in your life, realize that it’s ok as long as you’re working on it. But also understand this: no amount of difficulty gives you the right to be miserable. The world has gotten the memo, and they know that misery loves company. Act miserable and not even the most charitable soul in the world will want to be near you. But remain determined, remember your gratitude for what you do have, and put the work in, and you will find the key to overcoming any obstacle that comes your way.