Thursday, September 27, 2012

How To Be Unhappy In 10 Easy Lessons

I like Pinterest, it's a place of (mostly) beauty on the internet when there's so much sludge out there. It's growing rapidly and although in some ways is losing the homely feel it had to begin with. I still enjoy it. One of the big hits there is the abundance of inspirational quotes. Oh My! If inspirational quotes could lift us all we'd have no need for air flight. Lots of them are lovely and I have to say, many of them have given me solace at low moments especially when they have been passed on by someone who wants you to know they're thinking of you. I've passed them on myself from time to time. More than once I've spotted a beautiful picture and quote on Pinterest only to see it re-posted on Facebook the same day...these things take wings far beyond what the original poster could have imagined. That can be a good thing. Or not.

Here's something that has gotten me thinking.

Amongst all the beautiful, and 'Godly' and uplifting quotes on Pinterest, and elsewhere too but mostly Pinterest, I'm spotting more and more sneaking in there, disguised in the same clothing of dreamy pictures and stylish fonts, some which make me feel quite uneasy. And I feel uneasy because I'm seeing them being re-posted just as much as any of the other ones which promise happiness and comfort...only these ones are not the path to happiness...they're the fast-track to un-happiness.

In My Humble Opinion

I had a perfunctory look at Pinterest today and have, with very little searching, gleaned a few to illustrate what I mean.

So what's the running theme of all these? 

It's quite obvious...think of yourself first.

Do everything I want? What if the things I want to do are hurtful or harmful to others? What if I want is to help myself to something (or someone) that out of justice belong to somebody else ( a spouse perhaps?) Or what if it is harmful to myself...drugs, risky sexual behaviour, speed?  Is a spoilt Willy Wonka-esque 'I want it!' to be the criteria for whether we do something...?  Oh dear...

Never regret anything because it was what you wanted?  I have seen that sort of selfish attitude at very close quarters...and the resulting utter devastation of numerous lives. Should the people who caused that terrible situation just say 'Ah well, no's exactly what I wanted' ?????!!! Forget about the children with lifetime scars? or the elderly mother with a broken and sorrowful heart? not to mention the injustice and cruelty to a beautiful wife?  Oh NO!!! Regrets of things we've done wrong can be the impetus to be better, to try and make up for what we've done, to atone...maybe even...apologise?

Your 20s are your 'selfish' years? Oh really? What if that is all you have? Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. Not one of us.  A small child can be selfless, and saintly and a master of their own ego. What is the excuse for or benefit to anybody of someone in their 20's being 'selfish'? I can't think of one. And what happens when the last day of 29 is passed?  Is it likely that after ten selfish years a person suddenly become unselfish, caring of others...caring of a spouse, children? I don't think so. Ten years of self-centeredness is nothing but laying the groundwork for a lifetime of self-centeredness and unhappiness. The very special decade of the 20s is the time to strive to learn to be the best you you can be, to build up qualities and character. To learn how to serve, to love, to give of oneself. Selfishness and self centeredness are not attractive at any age be it two or a hundred. We all know elderly people who use their age to excuse themselves from manners or kindness and to justify their own selfishness...not nice.

Please whatever you like...make yourself happy first...think of me, think of me!! 

And the last one...walk away from what no longer serves us. That is the saddest one of all. What no longer serves us or makes us happy. Dump it, dump them, walk away, let go....

Don't Dump People...Don't LET Go!!! 
 What if there's nobody underneath to catch them?

So people may not deserve our help. They're still people. I have seen the Sistine Chapel once or twice. It is magnificent. There is one tiny detail I love that is not often pointed out in the guidebooks or the tours. In one corner depicting the souls of the damned tumbling into Hell, gnarled and blackened arms waiting in hatred (and might I add...selfishness) to pull them down. Amongst that scene of despair there's a little detail of hope. A man is leaning down the edge of the pit. In his hands he is grasping a rosary beads. Clinging onto that beads he is hauling two wretched souls out of that cesspit. He didn't give up on those two who were maybe people he could have been justified walking away from. They may not have been great friends, but he was. He went to the gate of hell for those two men. He went to the gate of Hell but he didn't go in.

The gate of Hell was far enough.

Can I do that?

Would I?

Should I?

Yes, I should.

Should not walk away from people.

(Here again I'm not advocating staying in an abusive situation. Everything in this blog is aimed at your common or garden person with common or garden lives.)

Walking away from those who no longer serve us is to start out on a long road that has no visible end. As is well known, Holland is the world leader in walking away from those it deems useless. The rate of euthanasia on The Netherlands has increased by 73% in the last ten years. Last year the Dutch Physicians Association (KNMG) approved extending euthanasia to lonely people. The people cast off by those whose purpose they no longer serve.

What a despairing stance for a society to take. Rather than show kindness to somebody who is lonely, to be selfless with our time and keep a lonely (oh yes, maybe boring, dull, un-serving to our personal gratification or goals, but someone all the same) person company,  it's so much easier to cast them off.

Euthanasia...mercy killing...merciful to whom? The person who feels uncomfortable driving by a door knowing they should, but are unwilling to, call in and visit perhaps?

So sad. The best Holland can offer the lonely is an offer to kill them.

Walk away from your father, your wife, your friend who no longer makes you happy or serves your purpose. Very very sad, and very sad for the person who does that cynical thing. That is the fast track to unhappiness. Self seeking has never made a single person happy, deeply happy from within. Oh yes, superficial pleasures of course give a saccharine sweet taste. But pleasure is not happiness. Happiness ultimately comes from emptying yourself for the sake of another. Contentment and peace and joy come from seeking the good of the other rather than ourselves.

I have this little rant inspirational piece of advice I give our children to try and let them see the futility of only seeking one's own happiness over another's. The mindset of children can tend toward Me First! That's not FAIR! I WANT! ME! MY! MINE!! I've seen marriages I know wherein this attitude also resides. 'Well I just told him I DON'T iron', or cook, or this or that...I give you everything except...

So this is roughly how my Mom speech goes...

"There are eight people in this house (adjust numbers accordingly). If each of you is trying to make yourself happy, that's ONE person looking out for your happiness. On the other hand if each person is trying to make the others happy over themselves that's SEVEN people trying to make YOU happy! Wow"

Which would you prefer?

Now I know quoting Mother Teresa is a bit cliché but I'm choosing her because she has universal appeal among Catholics, other Christian denominations and non-believers of every sort.  I think it's correct to say she had interior joy, here's why...
If you want to spend your life pitifully barking up the wrong tree in a selfish
 self interested pursuit of pleasure, follow the advice of those pins.

If you want to be happy...Don't.


  1. This is lovely, and I am reposting it to my Facebook and sending to my best girlfriends! And I think I will be stealing your "rant" for my own family and children as a good reminder! :-)

    1. Well I hope the rant works on your children lol, I think I'll probably hear my children ranting it to their children some day even if it seems to be rolling off their backs now! Thanks a million for sharing the post. J

  2. this was an excellent post. i recently addressed something similar when i dealt with the whole idea of sacrifice and how, in today's society, it is such a foreign concept. my point was that there is happiness, redemption, fulfillment in sacrifice.

    and i LOVE your mom speech ... i just may have to borrow it sometime with my boys.

  3. p.s. you explain it much more eloquently, but here was my take on a similar topic:

    have a blessed weekend!

    1. Thanks Bia, your post hits home, I had a group of friends all mothers who had a selfish club. They met and donated to a kitty & then took turns to take the money and report back next time on what selfish thing they did with it. The idea of a little treat was nice but calling it a selfish club was a bit off I thought.

  4. Such a thought-provoking post Jennifer! I have a pinterst account, but I don't think I've pinned more than 5 things! So I guess I've not see what you've run across. I do see it on FaceBook and you are so right, the selfishness is disturbing. It is something to remember that even our worst enemies are loved by God and if we have a big enough heart to pray for them and be our brother's keeper, we can help change the world one person at a time. Recently on EWTN radio I was listening to Sharon Lee Giganti talk about the new age deception (
    and she spoke about how the New Age movement promotes thinking of ourselves as God and looking out for #1. I agree with what she says about Oprah. Having said that, I was edified when Oprah had cloistered nuns on her show and I am praying for Oprah's conversion. So many people look up to her that if she had a conversion, there would likely be a mass conversion also. Good begets good! Well, you have got my mind rolling and I could go on for days! Ha! Bless you for this thoughtful post!


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