A few years ago I ran across a video titled, “Fuck It” (do a search on YouTube). It’s a promotion for a book – I’ve never read it. I’m sure it’s a fine book, but I’m not promoting it here. I just like the video and the sentiment behind it.
I’ve read a lot of “New Age” stuff around manifestation, personal development, emotional health and all that where the advice is to “be positive”. Good advice, really…but for many it’s easier said than done. That was certainly the case for me, for many long years.
One of my favorite episodes of The Honeymooners was the one where the irascible Ralph Kramden attempts to control his bad humor by reciting a catch-phrase: “Pins and needles, needles and pins. A happy man is a man who grins.” Not bad advice, really. There’s something to be said for faking it until you’re making it. And our emotions are so well tied into our bodies that smiling can actually improve your mood - temporarily. But even if you could grin all day every day, for one thing your face would hurt. For another thing, people would probably begin to regard you as being…not quite right. Too much grinning.
Everything has a process. You can learn to go from miserable to peaceful almost instantaneously. But it takes practice. Work. Effort.
Joy… happiness… peace. These aren’t things you can ask for. You can’t throw yourself down on your knees and beg God for them. They’re things that you produce yourself. But you can’t flick a switch and turn them on, unless you know how to do it.
You can’t just go from sad directly to happy, and stay there. Slapping that happy face on top of the pain won’t work. No, there’s a process.
Think of a number line that you learned about in math class. The anchor point is that zero in the middle of the line. So say you’re at a minus five on the emotional scale…depressed, anxious, whatever. But of course you want to get to the positive side…hell, you’d want to be at a plus five, right? Or at least a +2 or three.
But check it out. On that scale there just is no way you’re going to get from a negative number to the positive side…without first going through zero! There’s no way around it. At some point in your journey to Happyland, you going to have to get to the point of neutrality. The point where you just don’t givashit.
Now, this is not the same as “giving up”. You’re not going to stop doing things, going places, making plans or having dreams. But what you are going to do is to accept whatever happens…when it happens. You’re not going to spend your time wishing things were different. You’re going to stop saying, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…!” when things go wacky. You’re going to work your way to the point where, when shit happens, you can say, “My, that’s interesting. I wonder what that means?” And you’re NOT going to continue to go over the past badness. That’s gone and done with, and there’s nothing…no thing…that you can do about it.
Now, there are a lot of people… especially ladies, let’s be honest…who think that feeling badly is better than feeling “nothing”. They think that to be a real “feeling” human being you need to have emotion all the time. Horseshit. In cases like that, those people are simply so used to the hormone rush of emotion that they crave it; in fact, they become addicted to it. They can’t stand not being filled up with some kind of extreme emotion or another. Even emtional pain is a kind of numbing device that makes it unnecessary to make the effort to think. It’s a coward’s way out of doing the work that needs to be done
Work your way up to zero. Nothing matters until you say it does. Catch yourself when you start to feel down (that takes effort, work, awareness) and decide not to give a shit. Once you can do that and can sit on that neutral balance-point on the number line whenever you want to…it’s only a slight shift in the right direction to tip yourself over to the positive side. Try it.