“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.


“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.


emotional premature ejaculation

i was chatting about this recently with a pal so it’s been on my mind. basically, the idea behind emotional premature ejaculation (henceforth referred to as EPE) is that when people get really excited about a new or potential romantic endeavour, they act giddy, unnatural, odd. they wind up coming off as crazy or desperate and that scares many potential mates, and other people, away. i’ve done it myself, and i’ve been scared away by others doing it. it’s a terrible thing to witness but even more so to realize you are doing it.

i think using memes made by other people is a copout but this sums it up as good as i could. no one likes a psycho.

my pal matt first explained the concept of EPE to me. i had just filled him in on a few of my plentyoffish adventures where i had met girls i really liked, who i seemed to have a good rapport with, who had zero interest in a second date with me. i was baffled because i thought the dates had gone really well. we had chatted easily, seemed to have a fair amount in common, i thought i had been pretty ‘on’ as far as being charming and personable goes. but i guess when i was describing these dates to matt, he could see what the girls had probably seen: that i was getting way too worked up over girls i really didn’t know. as soon as he told me about EPE, i thought, “fuck. that’s it. i was way too visibly excited and looked crazy and/or desperate.” i’ve dated people who exhibit EPE and i was rightfully freaked out by them so i could totally understand what the girls i had EPE’d all over had felt about me.

since then, i’ve always maintained a serene aloofness around females that drives them absolutely mad with desire for me. just kidding. but i did learn to relax and be myself around girls i really liked, to control the urges to stare at them wide-eyed, hang on every word they said, and laugh too hard at every joke they made. let me be clear, i’m not saying “act like someone else instead of your foolish self.” i’m saying that EPE makes you act like someone else, and by being aware of it and keeping it in check, you are maintaining your self, and thus putting your best foot forward.

i also believe in a sort of extended mutual EPE, where it lasts for months or even years between two crazed individuals. i know that is intrinsically nonsensical considering the term but i don’t care. the symptoms are the same so in my book, it applies. anyway, i think most young lovers are guilty of extended mutual EPE because when you are inexperienced with sex and romance and your crotch is tingling with anticipation (bbaaaaaaarrrrrfffffffff, thrilled and disgusted i wrote that), you don’t use your brain. you just want to fuck and touch and be immersed in this other person who you share these wonderful, exciting, intimate things with. every goodbye is a 10-minute makeout session, you’re banging every free moment, you talk about each other incessantly to anyone who listens, you are in constant contact when apart…in short, it’s every high school relationship and it’s fucking disgusting to everyone who has to bear witness to it.

but adults are prone to extended mutual EPE too, and i think it’s sadder to see because i feel like adults should know better than to put all their eggs in one person-basket, to neglect their friends, to naively believe that the head-over-heels joy they are experiencing will last forever. it’s fine to embrace it while it lasts but i hope that adults can temper it so they aren’t so fucking annoying to their friends and, more importantly, so they can be aware of the inevitable end of a prolonged EPE so they aren’t disillusioned when the honeymoon ends and they either break up or trade the exciting sheen and boundless sexuality of a new relationship for the quiet trust, safety, and comfort of an old one.

i think the best defense anyone can take against EPE, prolonged or otherwise, is to try to be self aware, and when we notice ourselves doing something nuts, we need to stop, figure out why we are being crazy, and then fix that. easier said than done but what else can you do? keep acting all smarmy and cutesy and cuddly and gross and obsessed with the object of your affections in front of me? no thanks.

never do this in front of me unless you both want to get stabbed