I don’t really care that much whether people listen to me. I used to think, once upon a time as a young lad, that I’d make a name for myself, do something grand and impressive, change the world and all that stuff. I don’t care about that anymore.
Now, I’d rather not be famous. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve come to lean toward the conclusion that the best thing in the world is for the world to leave you alone.
There is ultimately nothing to accomplish in life. You don’t need to be rich or well-liked or of prestigious social standing. You don’t need much of anything to be happy. You just need to focus on being happy, because you can only do one thing at a time in life.
If you try to do more than that, nothing gets done because your intentions conflict with each other, one hand pushes against the other. You must choose. Career or family, money or love, success or happiness… you cannot have it all. You can really only have one thing in life, and you’d better choose carefully.
You can choose money, spend all your days in gradually expanding offices and finally die of a heart attack in a board meeting while your gold-plated Ferrari sits quietly in the garage of your fifty-room mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood in the state.
You can choose family, be buried in a 2-for-1 bargain plot with your children weeping over your headstone and be as forgotten as a dead squirrel in the forest in a matter of generations.
You can choose anything you want in life and probably get it, but you can only completely achieve one thing. If you split your priorities, you will achieve split results as well. You can have a little bit of money, a little bit of prestige, a little bit of family and a little bit of everything else, but none of them will be complete for you.
If you want 100% success with anything, that thing must comprise 100% of your priorities. Each goal you set for yourself takes away from all your other goals, because circumstances will always force you to further one at the expense of another and to choose between them every day.
My advice to you is to focus on happiness, on enjoying life. You probably don’t want to hear this, but this means you will not have money or status or anything else. Conversely, focusing on money, status or anything else means you will not achieve happiness. Happiness is not success. Happiness is the opposite of conventional success.
It’s not having things, it’s ceasing to want things. When you stop caring about everything that could be and focus completely on enjoying what is, you are happy.
You are unhappy when you think your life isn’t the way it should be, that you need to change X and Y and then your life can really begin. It doesn’t work like that, though. This is your life, RIGHT NOW, THIS IS IT! Are you happy?
That’s the truth right there, but I don’t suspect that many readers want the truth. I’ve noticed that the more truthfully I write, the less people like it, and the more I write what people want to hear, the more they like it.
That’s why you can’t build a business on the truth. The truth is that the price of happiness is everything else, but in the commercial version the price of happiness is whatever you can comfortably afford. Three easy installments of $39.95, ten minutes a day of meditation exercises, a few months of approaching girls in the street. Something like that. Something that doesn’t require you to give up any of the things you really want.
Because people mostly do not want happiness. They want something else, something like money or success or status or respect, a beautiful wife or a wikipedia entry that says they were important. They want other people to think they are happy more than they really want to be happy.
When you want to be happy even if it means that everyone you’ve ever loved and everyone you’re ever going to meet will think you’re a pathetic loser, that’s when you’re ready to be happy. Not before.
Being happy is the simplest thing in the world. Just do something that completely occupies your attention.
This is why people do extreme sports – the danger requires their complete attention so there is room for nothing else in their brain, and their internal monologue about everything that they think is wrong in their life quiets down.
You don’t need to risk death, though. Watch a really good TV show or play a video game, something that really draws you in. Once you get better at giving your complete attention to the immediate present moment, you can do anything. Cook dinner, go for a walk in the park, sit still and do nothing. As long as you can stay out of your head and out of the range of that internal voice that nags about changes it wants made, you’ll stay happy.
Happiness is your natural default state. Do you think lions lying in the sun berate themselves over what an ex-girlfriend said about them on Facebook?
That’s the secret to happiness right there. It doesn’t seem that impressive since I didn’t stretch it out to 180 pages with exciting Sanskrit words and made-up spiritual-sounding terms thrown in and charge 29 bucks for it. But it is the truth.
I’ve said what I wanted to say on this blog and I could probably have said it a lot quicker. What does the future hold for me? I might just go and do something completely normal and boring. I think I might be done with this teaching thing. I’ve gotten so used to writing that I wonder if I can quit. Maybe I’ll post something occasionally just for fun. I’ve still got something planned that I didn’t have time to do yet that isn’t exactly writing but it’s sort of related to the topics of this blog.
Aside from that, I guess we’ll see about the future when we get there.
No one can know the future, and don’t ever let anyone convince you they can. Those people on TV and on the internet trying to tell you what “will happen” in the next ten or twenty years are full of shit. All of them. Especially the experts.
Thinking that a stock market expert can go on TV and say something about the future of the stock market, or that a military expert can know about the future of the military, is like going back to 1999 and asking an Iraq expert what the next decade would look like for Iraq, or going back to 1935 and asking a Poland expert what the next ten years will look like for Poland.
The problem with anybody who tries to predict anything is that they fail to understand that the specialty area that they think they know about is always being affected by a million external factors they know nothing about.
Any scientific endeavor to connect what you think is a cause to what you think is an effect is already at least 50% voodoo anyway, and trying to predict the future is like voodoo squared, it’s a whole different level of inaccuracy.
Don’t listen to anybody about the future who isn’t an expert on everything and all of the ways in which everything affects everything else.
That is, don’t listen to anybody.