A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
One of the things I love about Americans is that, when they set up their government, they took the trouble to guarantee the right to life, liberty and (this is the best bit!) the pursuit of happiness. They didn’t go nuts and say Americans have the unalienable right to BE happy; all they said was they have the legal right to try. Not everybody does that. For example, in my country, the government doesn’t give a damn if I’m happy or not. They’re far more concerned that I keep my mouth shut when I’m pissed off. Anyway, happiness is a relatively recent invention. Before those good old boys from Virginia came along, survival was the biggie. Singing in the sunshine and laughing every day took second place to making it through the winter, the war, the plague, the drought, the fire, the flood, the famine or any of the other 1,001 calamities that used to regularly wander by. However, now that happiness is on the menu, everybody wants a slice, and nobody’s sure if their piece is quite big enough. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to find out whether you are happy or not.
Do you own a rocking chair? It’s scientifically proven that rocking chairs release enough endorphins to fill a room. Add a sleeping baby or a cat on your lap and you’ll practically drown in the stuff.
Do you have a pet? Dogs are better than cats: cats are better than fish: a platypus is the best, but even a well-loved houseplant will change you from a miserable self-centred bastard into a caring, sharing person of quality. Thinking about something other than yourself will always make you a happy person.
Do you live west of the Vistula River? For some reason, Europeans are happier than the rest of the world. I don’t know why. It must be the wine.
Do you have lunch money? Money will not make you happy, but if you don’t have any — uh — you’re kinda screwed. And constantly getting screwed will definitely make you grouchy.
Do you get earworms? Ohrwurm in German. (Those people have a word for everything.) These are those stupid songs that get stuck in your head and won’t go away. Yeah, they’re annoying, but washing the dishes to “Barbie Girl” by Aqua isn’t all that bad. My personal favourite is “All About The Bass.” And, quite frankly, it’s impossible to be depressed if your brain is playing “Call Me, Maybe?” (Are any of these in your head yet?)
Do you procrastinate? The truth is procrastinators are cockeyed optimists. They actually think that sometime in the future, they’re going to get their act together and clean out the closet or vacuum behind the refrigerator. They probably won’t — but believing in a better future is one of the key components of happiness. Therefore, procrastinators, by definition, are happy people.
Do you laugh at stuff that’s not supposed to be funny? This is the stuff that catches you off guard and you giggle — even though you know you really shouldn’t. Stuff that’s inappropriate. Stuff that buttoned-down people might even find offensive. Stuff that you really can’t repeat to anyone except your most trusted, trusted friend. Here’s the deal: being silly in the face of all the pompous ass seriousness in our oversensitive world is a sure sign that you’re happy.
But I’ve saved the best for last:
Are you in love? If you’re in love, you’re happy — full stop. Unlike “relationships” that you have to “work at” so hard they eventually just turn into a total pain in the ass, love is the real meal deal. If you look across the breakfast table and can’t think of any other place you’d rather be, then you’re in love. And folks, if you do that often enough, you’re not pursuing happiness anymore: you’ve caught it.