I'm sitting here thinking about what could make you unhappy. So, naturally, the only person I know is me, so I thought about what made me unhappy. A few years ago, I was unhappy with nearly everything and felt trapped in a life I'd built, but didn't want, and didn't know how to change any of it. Then I got laid off. It forced me out of my unhappy life, into a state of complete unknown. Instead of letting it paralyze me, I decided to use it as a motivation to try and do things I'd always wanted to do, but never been brave enough to leave my comfortable, unhappy life to do. In doing it, I found things that seems obvious when they are said, but people seem to forget them; or treat as unreachable.
The first was that one of the most wonderful things about life is learning. Not in some formalized classroom where people who think they know better than everybody else teach impressionable people how to think they know better than everybody else. I mean, learning things that matter. How did I know they mattered? Because I used them. My new life and associated lifestyle taught me that they were useful things to know.
Don't get me wrong. It's nice to know that there are 8 planets and 1 dwarf planet. Scratch that, now 3 dwarf planets. Pending next discovery/change. But, how does that help me at my job? How does that help me get dinner? If you recognize this train of thought, it's an update on the famous Sherlock Holmes attic. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson discovers that Holmes doesn't know much about space and is shocked. Holmes goes on to explain how the brain is like an attic. Fill it with useless junk and the stuff you need becomes harder to find.
That's more or less how the concept of the well-rounded education and the life I was expected to live weighed me down. Having to juggle all the things I didn't want slowed me down and made me unhappy. It made it hard to creatively find a way out. Because the question would always poke out, a way out to what? Everyone thought they had the answers, because that's what a teacher/professor/news anchor/politician had told them. But, really, there's no one-size fits all kind of answer. There's not even such a thing as a 'right' answer, which I think freaks people out because through all their years of education, there was always a 'right' answer. And when they get lost in their lives, it depresses them because they feel like maybe they are wrong somehow, even if they did everything the 'right way'.
Sometimes doing things the wrong way can be the right way. (insert sexual joke here)
The thing about learning is, it's not all history and algebra. The things that are actually worth knowing depend on the person. And each person KNOWS when something is worth remembering because it impacts them. It's something they turn around and use every day. So, you could say your lifestyle drives the things you learn. If you are unhappy, then that means you're learning things that are either not supporting your lifestyle or you're just in the wrong lifestyle.
When I moved into an RV, I had spent years learning about living in tiny dwellings, road travel, etc… but… really, I learned everything worth knowing about it when I finally did it. There was no safety net, no fall back plan. I just had to go for it. Living it made the learning so much more enjoyable. Did I make mistakes, obviously. Lots of them. Lots and lots and lots of them. I'm still finding out things now and smacking my head cause I hadn't discovered them earlier. But, even the doing things wrong made me happy because it taught me to do them right in the long run. It was fulfilling in that way, and that's how I discovered what was right and what was actually worth KNOWing.
My choices weren't going to be right for everybody else. Maybe not even ANYbody else. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure almost nobody would do things the way I do them. Like… pizza burritos. Or pizzaritos. It's like… a lazy man's pizza, made in burrito/wrap style. What? I didn't want to get my plate dirty. But, they worked for me and made me happy.
I discovered a sense of challenge and accomplishment, and that brought me happiness. So, I was more prone to celebrate. Because I had a reason to celebrate. And that taught me something as well. I found, before then, I had been partying to try and find happiness. But it wasn't real, it was hollow. Like a short term fix. And so I kept going out, and I kept partying so I could get that fix. But I was becoming more and more depressed when I did it.
It wasn't until I had changed everything that I discovered why. Partying is empty because it lacks reason. Partying is unhappy people trying to create happiness. Celebration on the other hand, which partying imitates, doesn't create happiness; it's a result of it. I had the cause and effect mixed up, but hadn't known any better because everything I'd been told my whole life until I made this discovery had told me that's how it worked.
I didn't have to find some ridiculous cause to fill my life with meaning anymore. All my politics, all my philosophical arguments, my whole state of mind changed. I felt relieved. There was nothing of benefit on those things I thought were so important, I was just wasting time in the only life I had thinking if I attached myself to something 'bigger than myself' that I'd find substance and purpose. But, all I found was anger. All those times I 'challenged' the beliefs of others, all I was really doing when I took the bait or initiated an argument, was being a douche.
Getting in arguments on Facebook? Douche move. Going to protests because I think I know better than someone else? Douche move. Instigating fights with my friends/family that I know believe differently than me? Douche move. I was a douche. A massive, heaping, disgusting pile of douche. I haven't been drawn into that nonsense for 3 years, despite several attempts by friends who are still wrapped up in that 'I know better than you' system, and it's been great. I don't know, maybe it just comes with age and experience. Maybe everyone in their 20s is just a douche for decade and don't figure it out until they wake up one day and realize how big of a condescending ass hat they've been. Or maybe it just comes from finally finding the right path for oneself.
I knew that I was doing the right thing for me even though everyone thought it was the wrong thing. But, I wasn't doing it for them. I was, for the first time in my life, doing things for me. I learned. I accomplished. It made me feel fulfilled. I became happy from the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. As a result, I wanted to share my happiness with others. I wanted to celebrate. It's infectious that way.
People would always tell me, if you aren't happy with what you're doing then you shouldn't do it. But it always felt hollow because they were doing the same thing I was and were just as unhappy. To them, the change was as simple as changing the furniture around in the house or changing jobs. It was cliché wisdom from some postcard they'd read somewhere, or some movie sound bite that they thought made them sound clever and wise.
So, what gives you a sense of fulfillment? Why aren't you learning more about that? If other responsibilities are getting in your way, how to get them out of your way so you can invest more of your time into spending time with/on the things that bring you a feeling of accomplishment, and/or spend more time learning about them?
I don't know about you, but I was super cluttered. It took getting laid off to finally shake me out of that belief that I 'had' to do this or that. I'm not as stream lined as I'd like to be, I've allowed a lot of clutter in the last year, but I'm saving up some cash to do a really massive shake up in my life and get back to what I found fulfillment in.
I guess what this rambling is saying is, don't let your dreams be dreams.