Monday, July 2, 2012

Happiness is...

Happiness is...  A warm puppy?

Or an gold Olympic medal?

A hug?

Owning a 45,000 square foot house with a view of the ocean?

Toiling day and night in an impoverished country helping others get access to clean drinking water?

A huge clearance sale at Macy's?

Complete non-attachment to anything?

A hot fudge sundae with 3 flavors of ice cream plus caramel and marshmallow sauce topped with whipped cream and nuts and perhaps a nice cup of cappuccino to go along with it?

It's not exactly an original thought that everyone's idea of happiness is different. I admire the hell out of people whose idea of happiness is making huge personal sacrifices in order to help others.  However, I am not one of those people.

In fact a favorite evil and shallow form of entertainment (ego-tainment?) is to secretly laugh in amazement at some of the stuff that makes other people happy.

(warning: images may be unsuitable for family viewing).

You May Want to Hide Your Dog's Eyes

Nude Skydiving? Not on my personal bucket list.

I am not starting this "personal growth" journey from a particularly elevated plane.  My overall goal is to rewire old cranky rusty worrywart brain circuits and endeavor to arrange my life so that I can be as happy as possible.  I'm already a spectacularly lucky human being, but I'm, alas, a greedy one.  Could I have even more happiness? More! I want More!

But if I'm honest with myself, many of  the specifics of my vision are embarrassingly superficial.

Anyone else?  If you could change your brain and, consequently, your life, what goodies would you want to gather along the way?  A few of mine:

  • I'd like to be able to sustain some sort of mindfulness practice that feels easy and fun, and yet "counts" enough that I get the nifty health benefits, a sense of peace, and don't have to feel all creeped out and guilty every time I hear the word "meditation" knowing I'm not doing any.
  • I'd like to the ability to face chores, deadlines, expectations and obstacles without panic or pouting.  Or hey, make that joy and delight!
  • Ooh, and how about never experiencing any heart pounding, gut-wrenching, 3 a.m. existential angst about the fact that one day I'm not going to exist?
  • I'd like to give less of a crap what other people think. Unless they think Good Stuff about me, in which case I'm perfectly happy giving a crap.
  • I want the ability to cheerfully say "no thanks" sometimes to more cake, wine, or whatever else I don't actually need more of, rather than my accustomed, "sure, why not!"  But without feeling the least bit deprived.
  • I'd like to be a much more generous person--but in a way that feels easy and natural and not  grudging.
  • I'd like to focus better, become more efficient and creative and motivated, and thus become "successful," whatever the hell that means.
  • (A big part of the "success" I crave has to do with feeling like I'm making a meaningful contribution of some sort and helping others).
  • (But the other aspects of "success" include all kinds of crass stuff like praise and recognition and money. Money for deserving charities and people and animals in need!  But also for massages and nice meals and exercise equipment and travel. Hmm, a personal chef would be awfully nice...)
  • I want to get skilled enough at self-hypnosis or other mind tricks to be able shut out physical pain at will.  And I'd like to have some lovely recreational "trippy" experiences using only my own brain, which is much cheaper and more convenient and less likely to land me in jail than many popular alternatives.
  • I'd like to enjoy exercise as much as eating, and incidentally get all strong and buffed and have other people I don't even know think I look like I'm in good shape.  But then when my body ages and everything gets all mushy, I don't want to be so narscissistic that I can't be happy with the body I live in.
  • I'd like to feel less pissy about annoyances, both major and minor.
  • OK, truthfully I'd like to plain not have any annoyances.

The bad news, that I'm currently in denial about? Some of these goals are impossible, and others might be ill-advised. From all I hear, superficial, egocentric and hedonistic ambitions are not the path to true happiness. But, hell, given where I am, bring on the personal chef and the spa and I'll worry about Awakening and Enlightenment later.

The good news? Some of this stuff I'm making progress on! I'm using a weird blend of neuroscience and new-agey self-help schlock and helpful advice cherry-picked from various (mostly Eastern) spiritual traditions.

This blog, which almost no one visits yet so it's nice and cozy and uncrowded, is where I'm hoping to share any cool stuff I find along the way. And, I'm really hoping to get some help and advice from others who know a hell of a lot more than I do.

But since my own "happiness" agenda is so weird, I thought I should put it out there at the very beginning, so no one mistakes this for some high-minded spiritual quest. (Though should I accidentally find spiritual Enlightenment and be perfectly blissful sitting cross-legged in a city park for months at a time, well, that works too.)

What's the sort of happiness you strive for?

Photo credits: Bluebird: Icanhascheezeburger; Skydivers: Nudist Resorts; Book cover:  Awful library books


  1. I think I'm probably happiest when I'm lost in something I'm enthusiastic about... If you're thinking about whether you're happy or not, you can be pretty sure you're not.

    On the other hand, your list sounds good too. About the only thing there that doesn't really apply to me is the 3AM angst; as other, wiser people have pointed out before, if it doesn't bother you that there have already been countless milennia when you didn't exist, why should it bother you that there will be more of the same when you're gone? #8-)

    1. Hey, that's a great addition to my list Shadowduck, I want to spend lots of time lost in my own enthusiasm and just BE happy rather than plotting and scheming about how to be happy.

      Oh, and sadly, it does bother me that there is an infinity of time where I did not exist before I was born. How can time happen without ME in it????

    2. Oh, and for some reason I got blocked when trying to comment over at Juanelo... one of the translation monkeys throwing wrenches in the machinery? :)

    3. I'm now assured that all the monkey fur has been extracted from the comments gizmo over at, so should you still wish to comment that well-oiled machine will now work like a well-oiled machine. #8-)

  2. Ooh, that's worrying... What exactly happened? We don't usually let the monkeys get too close to the mechanisms of the website, their fur gets oily and they sulk, but it's possible we've got a rogue!

    On the non-existence front; does it help any if you remember that, for most people in most of pre-Crabby history, life was a short, nasty struggle in a massively unfair (and often outright hostile) world, followed by an early death with little in the way of medical treatment to ease the transition? Personally I'm not particularly upset to have missed that bit of history. Nor do I want to live forever so, while hoping that I don't go before I'm ready, I'm pretty much okay with the idea of the world carrying on without me - the alternative would be for the world to end when I do, and that seems a little unfair!

    1. You are way more advanced than I am! I'm still kinda hoping to live forever if I keep exercising hard enough and eat my friggin' broccoli.

    2. Maybe you should try the ordinary broccoli - much nicer*. #;-)

      *Especially when chopped microscopically small and mixed in with other things that taste a lot better.

  3. Own your mistakes. That's what did it for me. I switched from trying to convince everyone it wasn't my fault to a "Yeah, I did it. Sorry (or not as the case warranted)." Not only does it bring a settled feeling, it totally freaks people out 'cuz they don't know what to do.
    I apply this broadly to anything and everything about me that does not meet societal expectations with this motto:
    "Embrace Your Mess."

    1. Ah, you are a wise woman. It's weird how much energy we put into propping up our ego's, when 'embrace your mess' works so much better!

  4. Huh. I commented the other day here. Maybe your commenting is on the fritz here and that is why you are not feeling the love. We are reading!

    1. Hey thanks Munchberry, I wonder what's up????

      I'll look under the hood but I'm afraid my blog-repair skills are pretty limited. Someone else told me they couldn't comment on Cranky Fitness the other day either. Hmmm. Hope it's a temporary glitch!

  5. Um, yes, could have sworn I commented days ago. Unfortunately whatever I said is no longer in my brain, and obviously my belief that I subscribed to comments was wrong.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. You are not the first to report that something weird is going on with comments! WIll try to investigate.

  6. If Jack LaLanne didn't achieve immortality, what are the chances the rest of us can? Dieing in olden days was usually early being eaten by a wild animal! Getting old and feeble is much better.

    1. Good point Zoe! And thanks so much for stopping by! (And I can't even WATCH those wild animal shows where other animals get eaten... sure wouldn't have wanted to get eaten by one myself!)

  7. First: you DO have most of the things you want already, Dear Crabby! Seriously - what you do here (and with clients) is hugely significant, important and wonderful!! That and the fact that so many acknowledge it by coming back to your site covers about 50% or more of your list of wants.
    As to the existential angst - Here's what I tell myself: I'm 'filler'. No more. No less. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact - it's an HONOR. Someone has to be part of the many that make up the hordes about which history is written, right? How can you have an ant hill without a cast of thousands - all of whom come and go? Yet - those ants seldom reflect (that we are aware of anyway) upon the meaning of their existence nor do they know they will die. They simply live. And do. Until they don't. Basta :)

    1. Love your perspective!

      I am always in awe of the wisdom that clients and blog readers (and particularly client/blog-readers) share with me. I always feel like I'm the one getting the gifts of inspiration and insight. The fact I sometimes actually get paid is amazing to me!

      There is a notion in coaching that it's good to be further along on your own personal development journey than your clients are... but I'm finding that, thank god, it's not mandatory. Clients who are more "together" than I am are able to use coaching well regardless of how much further they may be along certain paths than their coach is!

  8. Recommended blog:

    1. This looks awesome, thanks for the suggestion!

      On my to-do list: try some videos from her site and figure out what the heck to do about a resource list.

  9. analyst I sense that theгe aгe nοn-гatіonal forces at ԁο the trіck.
    At minimum 51 % has to be com, however in general up to seventy five% is implemеnted.
    * Chіnеѕe pizza: High unbakеd pizza dough with hοisin saucе,
    slіcеd gгeen ρeppers and οnionѕ, anԁ sauteed shitake muѕhrооms.

    Αlso visit my blog poѕt - Old Stone Oven