Your instructions for happiness on this journal i got for christmas are getting on my nerves. You forgot the other side of the coin, didn’t you?
I’m writing in it anyway, but it’s hard because your words are under so much pressure.
There are times when I agree with you, but there are times when our job isn’t to be happy i don’t think, but to be skillful, to survive, or to sit at the bottom of the wave and trust, to put one foot in front of the other purposefully and intentionally, or to do other things that are challenging.
Nobody around here believes you except for the fetal-positioned dog who doesn’t even have a prefrontal cortex to mess with her happiness.
And anyway, aren’t you being a bit optimistic for a Russian classic-writer?
And also, i looked you up, and it appears you suffered from major clinical depressions on several occasions, considered suicide and proclaimed art to be detrimental. To be happy be wouldn’t have likely worked as well as riding it out or writing War and Peace or probably some medication (which i don’t think is the only answer, but is a good tool when things get too low for too long, Tolstoy.)
Anyway, i think much better advice is to be with the wholeness of this human experience; the wretchedness and the joy. And I think that becomes about riding the wave of what is and it’s about survival, integrity, a bit of grace if we’re lucky and skillful.
I think Stevie Nicks has better advice: to belt it out from your wild heart.
(There is nothing about this that I don’t love.)
Or how about instead,
if you want to survive:
Don’t forget you’re an animal. The rules of this civilized world don’t support your resurrection.
Sometimes animals happily and furryly lie around basking in the sun, but this usually happens after they’ve fought for their life.
Be wild a bit. Move or sing or create or tell a story or be with abandon,
or withdraw ferociously. Sometimes lie in bed until it passes.
Or don’t even make your bed for a few days, even if you have never done this in your life. (My wildness is relative.)
But also don’t dwell. That’s holding on. Open palms.
let go when it’s time to. the empty, sorrowful places are where the most excruciatingly, curingly beautiful light is.
Cracked open is not broken.
Wail and yell and moan and scream and laugh.
You are not just letting go of the thing at hand.
There is more than meets the eye.
Don’t forget to be astonished by your healing.
You and it are a miracle!
I don’t think we were made to just be happy (be), but all my bets are on the healing.
And of course on the really living: the biggest, fattest elephant tears mixed in with sparkling laughter in a messy concoction and everything in between.
Let the waves of everything come and wash over you. One will take you somewhere else, and it will be magic. Many will just hurt like hell. You’ve gotta take your chances. Life is wretched and life is beautiful. Too bad. And then a wave of happiness will come and things will be nice. And then, if you want to be happy, be.
You’ll cook. With love again. Cutting up vegetables will not feel like climbing a mountain.
There will be crackers made from flax that are homemade again, but maybe not today.
All of this work of survival will pay off and things will feel easy.
You’ll eat a meal happily and smile at a friend and think: this is nice.
If you feel it all, you will be effortlessly enchanted again.
You will have amnesia about the pain because you’ve really healed.
You’ll ache for the smell of a clean spring day, and you will be soothed to the bone when it comes.
You might feel the heaviness of holding onto your unmet hopes. Hold them, but not tightly. Somewhere your wildest dreams are alive.
Don’t forget your spirit.
I don’t get this part yet, but as an act of devotion, i’ll do it: Don’t forget to look in the mirror and at yourself deeply into the eyes and say: I love you. And do it until you remember it and it becomes easy. You’re doing great. You’ve done your best.
And then, one day, in a little or big fleeting or lasting (who knows?), beautiful, simple moment, you’ll feel the sun on your face, and if you want to be happy, you’ll be.
And lastly, my book club that I’m not going to on account of working, but that I read the books for, is reading this book. I’ve read it, but thought i’d read it again in the spirit of learning more and also reclaiming my attention span.
“The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you’re supposed to go up and down when you’re supposed to go down. When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom. When there’s no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up. If everything dries up, the world is darkness.”
―Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle