By Troy Headrick
A little more than a week ago, I published a piece about an extraordinary evening. Last night, hoping to have a similar experience, I carried my chair outside again and sat. The conditions were similar to what they had been a week earlier, so I had great expectations.
I sat for a good long while, probably forty-five minutes or so. This time, though, I felt no such happiness. In fact, I felt restless and jittery and, eventually, frustrated. Toward the end of my stay, I noticed something interesting. I discovered that my mind was “chattering.” I was thinking about the upcoming weekend and about my job and how I’d recently been given a lot more responsibility. You name it, I was thinking about it. This discovery prompted me to realize that one prerequisite for happiness is the ability to empty the mind and be present in the moment. Mind chatter is a killer of happiness. A week earlier, I had been able to notice my surroundings and hadn’t been distracted. Last night, I was absent even while I sat under a beautifully starry sky.
It had been a frustrating evening. I carried my chair inside and turned on my computer. I started freewriting about what had just taken place and anything that came to mind related to happiness. Those notes became the basis for this blog.
It seems that many of us have been trained to conceive of happiness in such a way that makes it harder to experience. Perhaps we simply need to reexamine the way we define it. We’ve romanticized happiness and therefore have put it out of reach. We think it must be a kind of transcendent experience—a type of metaphysical bliss or a giddiness. Perhaps many of us experience happiness on a regular basis but don’t realize it. Perhaps the word “happiness” has been loaded up with baggage and unrealistic associations. What if we simply brought happiness down to earth? What if we associate it more with “contentment” or “peacefulness”? What if happiness turned out to merely be the absence of unhappiness?
How would our lives change if we simply began to think of ourselves as happy people? Would thinking ourselves to be happy—because happiness had been redefined and thus made easier to experience on a regular basis—become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy? Would thinking of ourselves as happy cause us to be happy? Of course, I don’t know. That’s why I’ve loaded this up with question marks.
Again, I’m looking at my notes as I write this. I have more to say about happiness, but this might be enough for right now.
I look forward to reading your comments. So much of the fun of writing for Pointless Overthinking comes from interacting with readers in the comments section. I learn so much from what you have to say. Thank you!
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.
If you’d like to see some of Troy’s art, have a look.