Often times I feel like Ren Hoek, the grimacing Chihuahua above on the right, from Ren and Stimpy. But I’d rather feel like Stimpy, the barrel-chested feline on the left with the catchphrase “Oh, Joy!” I’m tired of anger. I’m tired of being grumpy. BRING TO ME UNADULTERATED JOY!
Or, at the least, bring me some peace.
The website Elite Daily recently posted The 20 Things You Need To Let Go To Be Happy. Ashley Fern, who you may know from other posts such as Why You Should Chill the F Out With your PDA and The Reasons Why Nice Guys Always Finish Last, states the following:
The biggest factor holding us back from achieving our dreams is, simply and sadly, our own selves. We put limitations on ourselves everyday, whether intentionally or unintentionally. There are so many ways we can alleviate these restraints.
Remember, life can either be something you embrace or something you hide from. Stop making things complicated and just live your life. It would be so much simpler and more enjoyable if we learned to just release certain limitations.
As a fairly pessimistic person, especially recently, I tend to fall into many Fern’s listed “things.” These are the top five that I struggle with.
1. The Approval of Others
Fern: Who gives a sh*t what other people think? If you are happy with the decisions you have made, then whose business is that but your own? Think of how much you could achieve if you stopped letting other people’s opinions dictate the way you live your life. Do you, and engage in whatever actions you think might better your life.
Um, I GIVE A SHIT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK! I have since I was 5-years-old, maybe longer. I care if you think I’m smart, handsome, funny, nice. I care if you think my clothes are lame, or if my hair looks stupid, or if you think I’m wrong. Now, I might care a tad less than I did 13 months ago, but I still care. And I hate that about me. I hate allowing others define my self worth. I don’t know how to do me (Well…I mean I do, but not in this….just nevermind). As long as I could remember this is what’s driven my actions, my decisions. What will my parents think? What will my wife think? What will my friends think? What will that stranger I just met who seems kind of nice think? IT’S EXHAUSTING!
7. The Idea That Good Fortune Will Arrive At Your Doorstep
Fern: You need to go out into the world and actively look for fulfillment. You cannot take a backseat in life and expect things to happen for you. Appreciate the life you live, and be grateful for what you have. Value each minute of every day. Live like there’s no tomorrow, and make the most out of any situation.
If expecting things to happen for you is taking the backseat in life, then my butt’s stuck in the last row of the Rose Bowl.
Fern: Make no time for excuses. You want to work out, but you don’t have the time? Wake up early and get your gym on. Excuses are only rationalizations that make you feel better about yourself for not doing something you want/need to be doing. You desire results? Stop bitching, and start doing.
I can rationalize just about anything in my head. Not exercising is a big one. How come I’m eating that double double with animal style fries today? Oh, because I’m sad. I deserve this. Two days later. How come I’m eating that double double with animal style fries again today? Because it’s Friday, bitches! Let’s celebrate!
Fern: Stop thinking you will finally get to whatever task is at hand tomorrow. Live in the present, and get your sh*t done when it needs to be done. Maximize your time to the best of your ability. Complete each task you need to as soon as you can. This allows you to feel free from worry and stress by getting things out of the way as soon as possible. You also allow yourself more free time to enjoy the things you love.
I do my best when I’m up against time. A lot of us think that, don’t we? I know I do. Or at least I like to think I do. Just because you haul ass pumped up on adrenaline to complete a deadline doesn’t mean it’s your best effort. And the anxiety I feel about dreaded tasks or a giant to-do list eats at my sanity. Seems easier to get my stuff done early, wipe away the worry and have time to correct any mistakes, right? Rigggghhhhht.
Fern: What you put out into the universe will come back to you, so change the way you think, immediately. Stop thinking of life as a glass half empty, but rather, half full. You have so much to be grateful for, if only you took a moment to appreciate it. Anything is possible in the mind of a positive thinker.
And this is where I swing and miss completely, like Mark Trumbo chasing a slider low and away. When I was 9 I signed up for baseball for the first time. For some reason I was drafted to the Majors (10-12-year-olds) although I couldn’t hit a lick. As the first half of the season came to a close I was hitless. I’d go home and tell my parents I’d never get a hit. Eventually it all clicked, I ripped the first hit of my career to the left-field gap for a double and eventually moved from a three-inning platoon player to the starting third baseman who slammed a home run in a city championship game at the end of that season.
That same line of negative thinking feels like it’s stuck with me. Unless things are going well, my instinctive reaction is pessimism. I have a job (a soul-sucking one). I have a house (that we overpaid for and are stuck in). I have my health (I’m overweight, on anti-depressants, blood pressure medication and pop a thyroid pill). Those parenthetic notes highlight the pessimistic thoughts that over take things I should be grateful for.
So how do we just let go of things we’ve used to define our thinking and behavior for most of our lives? I don’t know. But I’m tired of letting these “things” determine who I am and what I do.
Unlike Fern’s assertion, my goal isn’t to achieve true happiness. Rather, I just want to be a big, dumb, happy-go-lucky cat. Happy, happy, joy, joy.