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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Human Condition


Warning: This post is seriously philosophical and probably too detailed for its own good.

When I was in college, I decided to do research on happiness? Why? Because I was comparing myself to everyone else, and they all seemed happy, so I felt there was something wrong with me and it was time to do some research on happiness.
I started a routine whenever I went to the bookstore, and I went to the dreaded self help section to find books that just focused on being happy. It was not an easy task, and quite frankly, I was embarrassed to even be seen in that section of the bookstore.
But there I was with a pile of books, wondering what they could possibly know that I was missing. One thing is for sure. I wasn't happy.
So I begin reading. I don't remember any of the books' titles, but I did remember some of what they said.
Happiness is a choice.
I pondered that for awhile. Can someone really just choose to be happy? Is it possible? How?
Well, there are a few habits that some books told you to break. What was number one?
Comparing yourself to others.
Now this is something I'm still guilty of. I compare myself to people that are my age all the time. And I don't mean just friends or family. I compare myself to authors, actresses, producers, bloggers and even book characters.
So, according to my Happiness research, that one habit alone is a sure fire way to being completely miserable.
How can my path even compare to others? Even if I put myself on a scale with people on their career paths and compare how far I've gotten, what good does that do me?
Here's why. According to the books, or what I remember from them, all people are different and no one has the same life or career path. Now, there are a few techniques I can use, and ways to learn how to put myself out there as a writer, but that's not the same as comparing my life to someone else's life. Here's why. I have been through different experiences, and I don't know the same people they do. My personality is probably different, and the way I view life will never be identical to any one else.
I know that many people in my generation believe that in elementary school, the way they tell you that you are different and unique is a lie, and you don't learn that until you're actually out in the real world.
The people who say this don't really understand what it means to be different or unique.
I think they confuse the word unique with special and privileged.
I also think that the human race confuses the word happiness with contentment.
The human condition is to always strive for perfection, but there is no such thing as a perfect life, a perfect relationship or even a perfect person.
There's a quote in Sarah Dessen's book The Truth About Forever that really sums up this revelation.
"I like flaws. They make things interesting."
Without flaws, who would we be? Without challenges, obstacles, conflict and fear, what would the human race be like? Possibly robots.
I guess I'm rambling about this because most of my generation is very jaded about their situation in life, and to be honest, I slip into a rut from time to time. Apparently we were promised the world on a silver platter, and life didn't deliver.
But if the world really was handed to us, how motivated would we be to make something great?
If we never had problems, what would life be like? Would there even be a purpose to anything anymore?
Just as characters grow from struggles and fear, I believe that the purpose of life is to get past all those obstacles. To face our fears, overcome conflict and reach our goals.
So I hope that the next time I feel jaded, I'll remember this.
Another secret to happiness is knowing yourself and what you want.
If you just keep going, maybe the path will be revealed. But this path won't be smooth. It will have cracks, hills and maybe even mountains. Sometimes we want life to be easier, but if it was, would the goal be worth it?

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