Below is the text of an email I sent to a friend in my Writers' Guild group, when she asked for some thoughts on happiness:
Happiness.... hmmm. This could take a while.
I confess to being really suspicious of "happiness" as people use the word today. I have seen things that made some people happy and have completely not understood why this happened. I have seen other things that made other people happy but made me want to commit unrestrained, bloody and potentially ritualistic murder, such as The Lawrence Welk Show, which was a pleasant experience for those in my family except for me. I have always been happy with the knowledge that Lawrence Welk never knew of the Ramones or included a single Ramones song in his repetoire, because I am certain that if he had I would most likely be in jail today, serving my third life sentence for breaking into a television studio and trying to beat a large number of old people senseless with an axe that was lodged into the bellows of an accordion.
There's tons of stuff out there today that's supposed to make you happy: cell phones, DSL, satellite TV, wireless networks, comfortable underpants, dating websites, new cars, housecleaning tools with disposable/replaceable parts, flat-screen TVs, travel discount services, credit cards with allegedly low interest rates, music mp3 players, downloadable music for less than a dollar, all kinds of medicines for all kinds of discomforts and upsets with all kinds of potential side effects (but hey, there's a one-in-a-million shot you'll experience them, right?), DVD special editions, Paris Hilton going to jail, that really annoying person getting voted out of American Idol... and the list just goes on with no end in sight. I notice sometimes that I seem happier when I am either not aware or less aware of these things.
I have a reputation for not being "happy" at times. This is partially because I am a quiet person who is not prone to talk unless he has something to say (which seems to really bother more people that I had first believed), and partially because I am not fully convinced that people are supposed to spend every single day of their lives chock-full of gutbusting yucks. I am sort of like Fox Mulder in The X-Files: "I want to believe." And yet, the more I see of society, the more convinced I am that maybe we should be seeking contentment instead of happiness, mainly because one seems to last longer and is more durable in the long run than the other. I think that happiness is something that should be appreciated more than sought, like a good meal or a fireworks display, or some other such experience. When we all went to the writers' conference in Clinton, one thing that Carolyn Haines said that I noticed was that humans are geared toward pleasure. This stuck with me, mainly because it was a frightening thing when you consider just how far some people will go in the pursuit of pleasure.
That's my opinion. Do consider that I have five days of school left while reading, and use grains of salt accordingly.
Now just for the record, here are a few things that make me happy:
1) Any Ramones album
2) A new pair of Converse black monochrome Chuck Taylors (Converse Chuck Taylors are the rock and roll shoe, folks)
3) Good Italian food, shared with good friends
4) Sleeping late
5) Finishing mowing the yard (this probably makes everybody happy, but so what)
I will also add this about happiness: I think that some happiness is found in accomplishment of a task. I remember very strongly that when I finished writing The MonsterGrrls, I felt very, very happy. I felt a great sense of having finished something that I really needed to do. And even today, I still get that feeling when I have completed something connected with this project, whether it's an artwork, or a webpage, or a product design--anything. I believe that one reason I feel this way is because I rediscovered something that I was very passionate about, and I became even more convinced that real happiness is connected to treasuring and appreciating the things that have value to me, and not to somebody else. I think, in some ways, that this is what life is about.
Don't anybody expect me and the Grrls to leave yet. We're gonna stick around a while.