it’s tough to be passionate about stuff but bite your tongue when talking to people who don’t feel the same way as you

the other day, a friend of mine made a joke about not giving a shit about something that i personally care about a lot, and i’ve been thinking about it since. the joke was funny and all but i haven’t been able to stop wondering how serious they were. the boring, loathsome part of me that no one wants to spend any time with wanted to tell my friend that i hoped they were 100% joking since the topic is one i think everyone should pay more attention to.

of course, i’m glad i didn’t say something stupid like that because that’s the kind of shit that costs you friendships and turns you into a weird, isolated, militant hippie, living alone on a gulf island. i care a lot about a lot of shit but i don’t want to end up like one of those bitter souls.

and that’s what got me here now. i think it’s a real conundrum because if you are passionate about stuff, you will either chew people’s ears off with your “the world is a festering piece of shit” act which isolates you from most normal people, or you will hear something that offends you but you will deny what you feel in your heart and shove the venom back down into your guts, your face twisting into an uncomfortable mixture of a fake smile and a grimace as you sweat like a mad bastard with scorn for yourself, everyone around you, and the whole fucking world.

tenor

both of those options are the shits.

meanwhile, the easy-going and carefree are doubly blessed: the less they care about weighty issues, the happier they are, and the happier they are, the more people like them — happy, popular, and blissfully ignorant. life is swell for the cheerful pricks.

the miserable become more miserable, the happy become more happy. it makes sense but it doesn’t seem right or just to me.

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it’s only downhill from here.

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“choose happiness,” said the miserable sod

my grandmother divorced from her husband when she was in her 50’s. she once told me that for years after the divorce, she harbored great bitterness and resentment towards him, that she often imagined what she would say to him if she bumped into him around town, or how she would have handled various events in their marriage if she could only go back in time. she said that eventually, though, she realized that all the negative feelings she kept revisiting never had any impact on him, but they did have a huge impact on her. she realized that she was making herself miserable by continuing to dwell on negative things that she couldn’t change or didn’t intend to follow through with.

once she had this epiphany, she simply stopped giving it any thought. after that, she felt much better.

similarly, a long time ago, my wife jenn said to me, “choose happiness.” i was super annoyed when she first said it because it sounds like something a yoga hipster woman would say, but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. what “choose happiness” means is, when you are driving home at a respectable 10 km/h over the speed limit and you come up behind some son of a bitch who is putting along just under the speed limit, you have a choice. you can choose to fume and gripe out loud, maybe swerve slightly into the oncoming lane as if to pass the slow driver, perhaps lay on the horn, and get right worked up about this minor inconvenience — or you can realize that you actually aren’t in a big rush for any justifiable reason so you may as well take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

for whatever reason, we give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to embracing anger and frustration. we allow ourselves to stew over tiny, insignificant things and make ourselves miserable. i see people do it all the time. i do it all the time myself (except i usually like to do it). but we have the ability to become more self aware, notice when we repeat negative patterns, and work to break those patterns. i actually frequently think “choose happiness” to myself now as a mantra when i want to snap myself out of yet another loop of rage. i even say it to jenn occasionally, which she absolutely fucking hates.

violent-women

“don’t you EVER use my own pretentious, mystical advice on me!”

i’m writing about this now because i was bothered by something else when i got stuck behind an insanely slow driver. i had to remind myself that the slow driver wasn’t what was actually bothering me, and letting myself get worked up about them would only make me even more unhappy. so i relaxed and slowed down and felt better for it.

it’s nice when this kind of stuff actually works. which is only maybe 50% of the time, but that’s still way better than nothing. i welcome any mitigation of my misery with open arms.