I've spent most of my adult life knee deep in the shit and piss of other peoples' misery. It's an industrial hazard in psychiatry. I'm also atheist and therefore have no god to provide me solace. Existentialism is my natural philosophy and as such, I'm inclined to feel that life is arbitrary. When it comes to morality, and the rights and wrongs of things, I lean toward Nihilism. I believe that no true morality exists.
I like my music in a minor key and my art to be bleak.
I am however, one of the happiest people I know. Smug bastard, eh?
Someone asked me about this the other day. I can't go into any depth, as it was in clinical supervision. But suffice to say, the question was raised by a devout Christian. Her God hasn't helped her much in my view, as she's struggled with depression for many years. She knows about my world view and was bemused frankly, why I could feel so content with life.
I made some half arsed attempt at describing why this may be so, but I didn't do it justice. Today I've been musing on it a bit. I thought I'd use Sans God to elucidate it a bit more.
So, here's my recipe for personal happiness. Feel free to add seasoning to suit your own taste.
Don't try to be happy. Happiness is a bi-product of living life, not the purpose of it. A singular pursuit of happiness is rather like building a tower of bricks starting from the top.
Be imperfect. The most unhappy people I know are those who strive for perfection. Good enough is good enough. The last 20% is nothing but flounce anyway. I side with Schopenhauer in this respect. He said that if we achieve perfection then the natural question would be "Now what?". Frankly we'd be bored silly.
Don't confuse happiness with an absence of pain. A day can be bad, and life can feel crap for a while. Circumstances have a habit of getting in the way. Similar to the being imperfect rule, don't expect life to be a bed of roses. It isn't, simple as that. Being in pain, be it physically or emotionally doesn't mean that life is inherently shit. Just that particular part of it is. Don't worry, it'll probably pass.
Notice small things. There is beauty everywhere you look. All you have to do is see it. The corners of paving stones. Grass. Bubbles in beer. A strangers smile. Door handles, whatever floats your boat. It's all there for the taking. Worry not about being a Gaia junkie.
Be wrong. It's OK not to be right. But it hurts to be fallible right? If we're honest, we only hurt because being wrong damages the fragile identity we build for ourselves. Who you are is nothing more than a collection of memes. Treat is as such. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
Be Grey. Nothing, repeat nothing is certain. There is always another side to the story. There is nothing more stressful, and likely to make you unhappy, than defending an absolute opinion. Other people can be just as irksome. Doesn't it piss you off when you're arguing against someone who thinks they're completely in the right? Invariably there will be some small truth in their argument. Start with this as your retort. And the God question? Remember that atheism is just a lack of belief.
You are not that important. "I" is an overused word. We've been brought up to think individually. Your identity is important, of course, but can you really define yourself separately from others? Who you are is fundamentally intertwined with everyone around you. Your parents, friends, lovers, acquaintances and colleagues make you who you are. Appreciate how you're inextricably linked to them. You are less important than you think.
Exercise. Learn to manipulate your endocrine system. Exercise stimulates your body to release many feel good hormones. It's been proven in many studies that exercise lifts mood. In the UK, GP's have funding to prescribe gym memberships on the NHS for depressed patients. Exercise is a very cost effective way of treating mildly depressed people without drugs. Get of your arse, now!
Create. Make stuff. Don't just consume. There's nothing worse for you than an exclusive diet of TV, Gaming and Entertainment. Write if you're inclined to, dance if you want. Invent a story for your children or tell your lover how you'd make her feel like the most special woman in the world. Sit back and daydream for a while or drum a new rhythm with your fingers. Anything will do, as long as you make something new.
These are some of the things that make me happy.