This Post Will Make You Happy

Panelists at PSFK's Good Ideas on Happiness Salon (L to R: Hill, Forbes, Dean and Rubin). Image via PSFK.

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”

On Doing, Being and Picking Up Chicks

My onetime Bible

Five years ago I downloaded an ebook called “Double Your Dating,” by a guy named David DeAngelo, who explained his patented “cocky-funny” technique for picking up women.  He said a man should be simultaneously cocky and (you guessed it) funny when approaching women.  This state conveys to women carefree confidence.  A cocky funny man can make fun of himself, because he has nothing to prove.  He can make fun of a girl, because he doesn’t need to impress.  He does all of this with a shit-eating grin, and suddenly becomes very desirable.
I was working DeAngelo’s game to good effect for a few weeks when Neil Strauss’ book “The Game” came out.  Strauss, a longtime investigative journalist went on a mission to infiltrate the pickup artist subculture, only to find himself one its gurus a couple years later.  The book chronicled his journey.
Both books opened my eyes for different reasons.  DeAngelo’s book was helpful in giving general information about how to conduct oneself in specific situations.  Taking his advice took the seriousness out of going out.  I started having fun flirting with women for the first time in my life.  Strauss’ book included techniques and general information like DeAngelo, but also told the story of how an AFC like me (average frustrated chump. The pickup culture is filled with acronyms), with training and perseverance became a mPUA (master pickup artist).  What both books did was change my internal narrative from “whether” I could have more success with women to “how.”
Now before you judge me, please ask yourself, whether you are man, woman, straight, gay, bi, transgender, whatever, have you ever had problems meeting a romantic partner?  Have you ever had difficulties communicating to a potential partner?  Have you ever felt unlucky in love?  If you haven’t felt these ways, please, judge me at your pleasure.  If you have felt this way, you know why I turned to this questionable counsel. Continue reading “On Doing, Being and Picking Up Chicks”

Killing My Inner Child

That was supposed to be me up there.

My first and last bike race started with a clatter and ended with a whimper.  I was fourteen and had entered the Illinois state road championships months before.  This would be my first outing on my coveted and crinkled US Cycling Federation category-four license.
The race would mark my ascent to cycling greatness.  Soon I would be among cycling legends:  Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, American Greg Lemond, who had just won his second Tour de France by eight seconds that day.
In preparation for the euro racing circuit, I dressed like top pros for my premiere race, wearing my PDM jersey (then the most powerful cycling team in the world) and a “hairnet,” a leather and soft-foam head covering that offers about as much protection as its food-service namesake.
My older brother, who also had an interest in cycling, drove me to the event in his beat up 83’ Toyota Celica.  My race started at 8:30 in Bloomington, a Podunk town two and a half hour drive from our place in the south suburbs of Chicago.  We arrived around 8:25. Continue reading “Killing My Inner Child”