“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)
I have been writing lately about aspects of life which I have come to believe are probably both obstacles and paths to happiness.
In this case, the obstacles are our failures to perceive and act, on and in reality, and our inclination to indulge in self-harming behavior and magical thinking. These are our failures to be “sincere” about ourselves to ourselves.
The obstacles are those behaviors or thoughts which impede our efforts to “see the truth” about ourselves and so prevent us from ever fixing the nasty or even evil aspects of our lives and our behaviors. We have to “Rise Up” from the dark mob and struggle with our demons and overcome them.
The paths are those parts of life where we “get it right” … those parts are, in the words of Stephen Covey, where we tailor our circle of concern to match our circle of influence, and then we put all our energy and effort into realizing those dreams and desires which fit into our circle of influence.
The paths are the behaviors and thoughts and processes by which we slowly amend the obstacles and discard them from our lives. The paths are painful, and winding and torturous and take perseverance and fortitude to keep walking.
Another author, Marie Kondo, a young woman who specializes in de-cluttering our lives, in fact owns and operates a company delivering service, instruction and advice on de-cluttering and the healing power of tidying up. Her razor for deciding what has to go is “Does It Spark Joy?”
There is a lot of writing around about how happiness and the expectations of same are the foundational groundwork for the pursuit of the “good” life, the pursuit of “Livin’ the Dream” the prime motivator for the successful life.
“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” seem to pretty much define most of Western Culture and Western Society these days. On closer observation one might profit greatly from using Marie’s razor for shaving the legs of our ego’s and desires.
Answering “Does It Spark Joy?” with honesty and sincerity about everything we think and do is a huge service in attempting to follow Mark Manson‘s advice about not “Giving a F—” about far too many things we should not really be “Giving a F—“ about .
For example, does this mental image spark joy? “An alternate societal path to a sort of quasi-success seems to be that if we are not engaged in the actual pursuit of these goals ourselves (for whatever reason suits us at this moment) then we adopt a kind of semi-permanent career victim-hood through which we blame others for our failures in our personal “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”“. Not very charitable …
If in fact this thought sparks something less than joy, if it’s just an old habit of thought, unconsidered and reflexive, if it’s useless, harmful, why OH why not just throw it in the dumpster of useless emotions which don’t help me live in peace and happiness?
Does this thought spark JOY: “And in that place of failure we attempt to virtue signal and guilt trip others who are perceived to be more happy or more successful into providing for our happiness or at least compensating for our shortcomings by sharing our unhappiness.” No Joy?
Again, why not just throw it in that dumpster of useless emotions? Why indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them?
How about this follow on from the above thoughts? Does this thought spark JOY: “And if that doesn’t work, then we engage the government in providing for our happiness, in validating our victim-hood and ensuring that our fair rights and expectations are met by other actors however willing they may be. We call that whole industry “Social Programs”. No Joy?
Again, yet again, why not just throw it in my dumpster of useless emotions?
Why do I indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them? How about this thought: “At the lowest level we don’t believe we can be happy on our own steam so we just vote Socialist because it appeals to the “victimy” self-pitying part of us and we feel that a bigger gang will get us better results, and the successful folks don’t deserve what they have anyway. Definitely No Joy here …
NO JOY used to refer to some task or trial or exercise engaged in by some squad or group which exercise was ending in failure and frustration, as in: “DID YOU FIND THE FUEL LEAK YET? Negative Chief, No Joy”. Of course when the result is “NO JOY”, then we are expected to try harder to fix what is stopping the joy, right?
Or finally, this thought: “In Canada we call these gang lovin’ folks NDP’rs and Liberals, and in the U.S. we call these same folks Democrats. and that pretty much sums it all up except for the small detail that our Canadian Conservatives are actually more Socialist than any American Democrat on his wildest “share-the-wealth” day“. NO JOY!
No happiness here for Joe … gotta chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy.
But is unhappiness the only natural outcome, and is the only answer to simply accept that and get on with our lives, coping as best we can with chronic unhappiness and telling everyone to “suck it up princess”?
Look into the mirror and “turn your eyes back upon yourself, and see that you do not judge the doings and sayings of others. In judging others you expend effort for nothing, often are mistaken, and easily offend. But in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.
We often judge things, actions and speech according to our own biases and beliefs, our heart’s preferences and desires. In this we very easily loose site of true vision and judgement due to private affections and personal preferences.” Thomas à Kempis
Does it spark joy?