Note: A few years ago I wrote a series of pieces on "What's Important." They got a decent amount of traffic on my old blog, so I've decided to re-run them on my new site.
...or you can get with that. I think you'll get with this, for this is where it's at.
Many, many moons ago, at some indistinct time and immaterial place, I heard or read the phrase "you have to choose to be happy." And I chose to believe it was a load of shit.
To me, the idea of choosing to be happy was simply living in denial. It was also about giving up. I didn't want to do either of those things, although I was, at that time, doing both.
I still don't like the idea of "choosing to be happy." It's simplistic and, well, wrong. The more accurate way of putting it is "question your assumptions."
Over the course of a few decades, I've gotten a few ideas into my head, a good many of which aren't particularly right. But, you know, over the course of those few decades, they stuck. As with anyone, I've found that I believed things about my life that weren't necessarily true.
Here's a mild example: A few days ago, Nicole and I went away for our anniversary. We went to a resort in Sonoma. We got massages at the spa. While I was getting the massage, I thought "I'm bad at relaxing." And then I stopped myself. Because "I'm bad at relaxing," while it may or may not be true, is self-fulfilling. If I believe it to be the case, then I'm making sure that it is.
Now, I'm not saying that believing that I'm good at relaxing will make that so, but at least I'm not boxing
myself into a corner.
And it works for everything. "I'm a bad person." "I'm stupid." "I'm fragile." "I'm bad for the people around me." You can go on and on (note: those are just random examples; I've never, ever thought I was stupid. If anything, I probably have the opposite problem).
My big thing, lately, has been trying to face the preconceived notions of what my life would/should be like. Don't get me wrong, living in the suburbs is still freaking me out, but just because it might be different than the life that I thought I'd be living, doesn't mean it has to be bad. And, hell, if I'm being totally honest, I really didn't have much of an idea of what my life would be like at this point, anyway.
The problem is that this philosophy forces me to second guess my initial reactions to pretty much everything. I've spent most of my life second guessing every decision I've ever made (or could make), but it's not those decisions that are problematic, it's how I react to things. Forcing yourself to take a beat before reacting to something is very, very hard and, really, at odds to how pretty much all of us are raised.
I know I sound like a New Age hippie; I accept that. I suppose living in Northern California will do that to you.