Growing up, no one sat me down and said, “David, this is what I’ve learned about living a happy life.” The closest thing I got was a warning from my father: “If it looks too good to be true, sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true”—a sage tactic for avoiding unhappy situations, but not necessarily a strategy to get into good ones.
Without clear guidance, I tried to figure it out myself. I looked around the house, but like I said they weren’t saying much. Mom was boozing. Dad was an every-other-week presence who dealt with depression much of his life. Grandparents were pretty checked out.
I looked around the neighborhood, but the whole suburban, early-eighties, broken-home, lives of quiet desperation thing was all the rage, so that didn’t help much either.
That just left TV. People on TV had problems like me, but they were, unlike my problems, settled in twenty-two minutes (unless it was one of those annoying “to be continued” episodes). Happiness was the default setting for TV characters. They started the show happy, faced conflict, overcame conflict, returned to a happy state of being. The sitcom happiness arc was punctuated with commercials that brimmed with things to buy that assured happiness.
Out of this alloy of environmental inferences and TV-based philosophy, I had no clue how to live a happy life. I spent my first eighteen years in near continuous depression.
I attended an event the other day by the organization PSFK. The topic was happiness. It was like an overdue version of the talk I never received as a child. Continue reading “This Post Will Make You Happy”