How to enjoy life
People have this common sentiment that life and happiness is some kind of profound mystery. Perhaps scientifically there are some things about life we can’t explain thoroughly with any real authority (i.e. like why hotdogs come in packs of 8 and buns come in packs of 12) but other than that I don’t think that life and happiness is that big of a mystery.
I suspect that much of the confusion that gets people all tangled up in this idea of life and happiness as a mystery comes from a tendency to over complicate things and attach value to physical things. However somewhere in the mix and thrice removed from an item’s original intended purpose, people forget about the whole point of that thing they bought, that food they ate, or that device that is supposed to make life easier.
What am I talking about, you may be asking. Well let me throw this out there: I think life and the pursuit of happiness can be simple. It’s just a matter of what you NEED rather than what you crave. Hopefully without sounding like a dogmatic pedagogue I would like to submit my basic formula for life. I call it the Holy Trinity of Happiness Here it is:
Duh! Right? Well, you would be surprised at how many people I’ve met who are missing one or more of the three needs! The basic principle of the Holy Trinity is that there are really only 3 things you need in life, while everything else are just wants that are band-aid solutions like useless possessions. The Trinity is a visual representation of my philosophy and I’m always able to use it to troubleshoot my life if ever I’m feeling blue. I believe that the “secret” to happiness is the presence of all three of the needs in one’s life. They are also connected and dependent on one another. For example you need food to have the strength to fuel your passion or love, you need love (or even sometimes the loss of it from one person in your life at some point) to be able to express yourself and appreciate art and, unless you plan to subsist on traditional 18th century prison rations, you can indulge your creativity in glorious food in all its forms, colors, flavors and origins.
I think a good example would be that vacation you once took to an exotic destination that amazed you and left you longing for a return to that place someday. For example, you could go to Brazil and take in the beautiful food, the lively music and the free love. Or you can go to Israel or Greece and bask in the warmth of the hospitality of its citizens as they tell you stories of their rich cultural histories over a strong coffee, delicious food, some Ouzo or Arak, and lively songs at the bazouki or margoa. You can also find the Trinity right at home, like I did when I returned to Toronto. I’ve lived in BC, New York and abroad and I have fallen in love with this city and found my Trinity here. Although I am able to take it with me anywhere I go, I will always know that Toronto, to me, is nice and heavy on the love part so I love the people in it right back. It’s why I started this blog and am in the process of dedicating an entire section of this website to my friends. Conversely my friend Angie visited Costa Rica last year and found that her Holy Trinity lay there. She calls this phenomenon “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) and decided to leave her workaday life in Mississauga to a place more suited to her needs as a person who is very passionate about surfing. She will be missed.
Back to the diagram: Take away any one of the three and you will notice that you can get pretty depressed, or even die (no food = dead MichaelNus). For example you may eat well and create brilliant works of art but be a misunderstood artist with no friends and family because you have pushed them all away. So in the absence of love many of us turn to an ersatz surrogate of some kind to fill that void. We may pay for “love”, do drugs or alcohol in excess or worse. How many celebrities do we know who seem to have all the friends in the world but still drink and drug themselves right into rehab or the grave.
Conversely you can have love and food but become so busy or caught up in love that you forget to take care of yourself. You may even lose yourself in a lover and forget what made them love you in the first place. You could get “whipped” or lose the power to make decisions for yourself. The person who loves you may even be overbearing and make decisions for you, choose all the decorations, tell you what colour to wear etc. You might even find yourself telling yourself you like the same things as your partner just to keep the status quo. But what about that fact that you love cartoons or that little something silly that makes you happy? End result is devastating to your personal well being. Divorce rate over 50%? Check.
I could go on for ages and there are limitless possibilities.
You will notice that I didn’t include Sex in the love part. The reason for that is because it’s a given. You can have sex with your friends and lovers (hopefully not your family or pets) and as great as it is, it does not necessarily make you happy all by itself as a life pursuit. We all know about break-up sex, one-night stands, quickies, obligated sex etc. and I know more than a few people who have a different partner every other day but are truly miserable because there’s no love at any point. It’s about the companionship at the end of the day. Sure casual sex is great fun, but there has to be a counter balance to it – It should not be the only goal. I view it more under the category of fun in the yellow circle, but it is definitely not a substitute for real love from your friends and companions. Some of you may say “but I REALLY love to have casual sex” and I understand that. The upshot is that sometimes you may find that a casual sex partner understands you better than most people simply because you are both honest with each other in your intentions. Who knows, it could later turn into something more.
Of course we can’t avoid the subject of money. It’s so easy to say that money can’t buy happiness, but ask a person living on the street if they believe that and they will kick your ass. The only thing is that it’s actually true to an extent. Money can be viewed as a by-product of the Trinity. Chances are that if you are happy, you can remain positive and find a way to make money. If you just can’t seem to get someone to hire you, you can start your own business or ask a friend for help (Creativity + Love). If they are real friends they WILL help. Many people make money but are trapped in a job they hate so they spend their money in ways meant to pick up the slack. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I know lawyers who work very hard but play even harder so they find the balance. As long as you live in civilized society you’re going to have to accept that money is a lubricant but it should not be your goal and sure can’t buy happiness. God knows I spend money like it’s burning a hole in my pocket, but I would much rather spend it on an experience than some sort of degradable object. So if I spend it on a swimming pool or a car anything big like that, you can bet that I bought those things for the purposes of sharing with my friends. I got certified in SSI SCUBA diving so I could share my stories and experiences with my landlubber friends and hopefully entice a few to try it with me. One thing I know for certain though is that you can make all the money in the world, but you can’t take it with you when you’re six feet under. So work but make sure you work on yourself too. If you can love what you do for work, then great! But that doesn’t mean that you should live to work. Make time for others who don’t do what you do for a living despite how much you love your work.
Who wants to exist forever? Not me. If we’re happy we will probably live a long life anyway. Notice how I use the word “live” and not “exist.” The reason for that is that so many people just exist until they die. They will age, buy into RRSPs, work, work, work, save, save, save and take few, if any risks. And what is there to show for it? Perhaps a nice room at a retirement home while your kids bumble around towards the same end. I would much rather LIVE for 5 years than exist for 100. But if I could LIVE for 100 then giddy up. Enough said.
It’s simpler than you think. Think about any point in your life when you were feeling down or frustrated and then look look at the diagram of the Holy Trinity. You may find that it will help you, as it has helped me, to overcome misery even at its worst. Even the little things can count for a lot.
So be silly, be creative, go wild! Travel, eat, love, create, think, do, relax, hug, kiss, fuck, sing, write, flourish, be gay, be straight, be bi, be spiritual (but don’t force others to be) be proud and be proud of others and for heaven’s sake don’t take life too seriously!! You have all the time in the world, but hurry up will ya?!
Here’s a video I made for you!