How’s this for a roller coaster ride?

Something my friend @schmutzie posted made me think of things. She’s good for that, you know. Making you think about things. In fact, most of my friends are particularly good at making you think in general. That’s just one tiny aspect of what makes all y’all awesome. (Incidentally, you can find @schmutzie here.)

She posted a video of a young man who is living with cancer. And of course, the video is lovely and the young man is inspiring and it makes you weepish. But there’s something else. And it’s the Something Else that has made me think. It’s something the young man said in the video, and I can’t remember exactly what it is, and I don’t really want to watch it again because it’s going to make me weepish again and I really hate that, but the gist of it is something that we’ve talked about before. And that’s that happy people aren’t happy because …or rather that unhappy people are unhappy because…

No, no. I have that wrong. It’s that we make a choice, conscious or subconscious*, about what we wish to focus on. It’s not that happy people don’t think about death and war and disease and famine and how much of a douche Stephen Harper is and the bills piling up and whether their kids are going to end up in the hoosegow**. We *all* think about that. Especially the hoosegow. Hoosegow. You can slit your eyes and purse your lips and think about all the bad things that might happen, or you can nod your head and acknowledge that bad things might happen, but that in the end, it’s going to be a good decision.

And this ties in to a conversation I had not long ago with The Iron Troll (also good for making you think about things). He had said that a friend of his has an attitude of “he wasn’t sure he’d have a good time, so he didn’t go.” And that, to me is problematic. Why? Because that’s a negative thought. If you wonder if you’re not going to have a good time, that’s very close to wondering if you’re going to have a bad time. If you wonder if you’re going to have a bad time, you’re focussing on all the things that might happen that might make it a bad time. And therefore, you’re more likely to have a bad time. Not because your negative thoughts are sending negative vibrations out into the universe and unaligning your ass chakra (although, being superstitious, I wouldn’t rule that out), but because you are training yourself to look for the bad things.

If on the other hand, The Iron Troll’s friend had been more like The Iron Troll himself and had said “I don’t know what’s going to happen”, he would have been focussing on the unknown. Saying “I don’t know what’s going to happen” leaves it open-ended and the possibilities are endless. Saying “I don’t know if I’m going to have a good time” leaves only two real possibilities: either you will have a good time, or you will not have a good time. You’re focussing on good versus bad in the second example, whereas in the first example (Iron Troll’s statement), you’re focussing on the experience itself.

Does that make sense? It made a lot of sense when The Iron Troll and I were talking about it, but that might have been the shrimp noodles talking. Figuratively. If the shrimp noodles actually talked, I would either always go there for dim sum or I would never go there ever again. Actually, it’s a moot point since if the shrimp noodles actually talked, they’d probably speak a language I don’t understand.

ANYWAY. I don’t want to make this sound simple, because it isn’t. Choosing to look at the positiver side of things is difficult. I mean, it’s really bloody hard. It’s *easy*…so easy to let yourself get carried away with frustration and anger, and it’s always so much more difficult to look at things in a different way. I’m sure evolutionary psychologists probably have very seriously thought out arguments about why, as a species, humans seem programmed to poop on parties. I’m sure social scientists do as well. I mean, if it were easy to be a happy person, wouldn’t most of the peoples choose to just be happy, regardless of their situation in life?

Some wouldn’t. But most would.

So that’s what the video that @Schmutzie sent me made me think about. That it’s WAY more difficult to be nice (I mean to ACTUALLY be nice – not to act nice) than it is to just …be a jerkbot. I suppose a good 3/4 of the self-help section is all about this. Sometimes when I think about things, I just like to think about them out loud, you know?

*I need to just go on a little tear here about the whole subconscious/unconscious thing. Lots of people say “she had an unconscious desire to ruin every relationship she was in”, and unless she’s in a pernicious vegetative state, that’s not possible. UNconscious means “without consciousness”. It means asleep or comatose. SUBconscious means “below consciousness”, and THAT is what you mean when you want to say that someone is doing something seemingly without thinking about it. The terms are NOT interchangeable. So when you hear someone say “unconscious”, unless they are medical or emergency personnel and they’re talking about someone who actually is unconscious, they mean “subconscious”. If it will help, I’ve made you a little mnemonic device so you can remember the distinction. It goes like this: unconscious means – and then I hit you in the face with a bat. Got it? Good.

**Etymologically, ‘hoosegow’ comes to English via Spanish. The original word in Spanish is something like juzgado, and it means ‘jail’ or ‘prison’. English speakers hearing Mexican people talking about prison heard them say something that sounded like “hoosegadow”, but the ‘d’ in there is an aspirated ‘d’, which means sometimes it’s difficult to hear. And in fact, there is some evidence to support the clipping of ‘juzgado’ to ‘juzgao’ in Mexican Spanish. Anyway. That’s where that word comes from. AWESOMESAUCE!

cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

1 Comment

  1. Personally, I look at the attending of social functions like going to the movies, I cannot afford to go to every movie made (nor would I want to). However I can probably afford to go to one a month or so (if there were even enough good movies being made). If I pick and choose which movies I go to, so that my money (and sanity) isn’t wasted watching dreck, More than likely, being picky like this I will very much enjoy the movies that I do see.

    With social functions I have a similar issue, except that instead of money my limiting factor is time. I am a dad and a husband, so I want to get the most out of my time that I get for myself (which every person with a family needs). So essentially I have a “social life budget”, self-imposed, but there nonetheless. So if a social opportunity comes up I will weigh it against the chance that I could be using up my night out on a whole pile of suck, or that the event could be an amazing time. Perhaps this is being a bit “accountant-y” but I would rather be there on the “you had to have been there night” than been at the “we all sat around doing nothing night”, at the cost of not being there for the amazing night…

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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