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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy for today

Before I get on with this mumble, I'd just like to mention that this post is not an invitation for you to kill me.

Thank you.

These really are good times.

Whilst it is a core belief of mine that it's important to appreciate today and not postpone the attainment of happiness for 'tomorrow', sometimes something will happen in my life that prompts me to question whether I really am valuing the gift of being alive.

When faced with that question, I look for an answer by asking myself another question:
"If I were to die today, would I be OK with that - is there anything I would regret not having done?"

The film Pay it forward, which I previously mentioned seeing for the first time the other day, provided one such prompt.

I used to think that I would only be able to say "Yes, I would be OK with that, and no, I would not have any regrets" if I had already accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish.

I can't remember exactly when it was - perhaps some time last year? - but there came a point when I realised that I no longer felt the need to achieve anything in particular in order to be happy, because I was happy, and I am happy. Very happy.

If I try and determine why this is, two things come to mind: the love of my family & friends, the love of *Twinkle*, and my living in alignment with my core beliefs, which are centred around love and acceptance (Hhhmm. Perhaps I could turn this mumble into a Little Book of Happiness).

It's a great feeling though, because it helps me deal with the pressures of consumerism (except for the Apple iPhone of course, which I absolutely must have) and social norms re. careers. I don't need to feel pressured by others promoting a 'better' lifestyle, because, well, I have it already, sitting here in my little student room, with £24,000 of debt and just a couple of suitcases of 'stuff'.

The net effect of this feeling is something that I cherish - the feeling that every day from here on is a bonus.

I wake up: "Wow! ANOTHER day! What can I do with this one I wonder?!" This doesn't mean I feel pressured into having to do something 'incredible' every day, but it does prompt me to remain true to myself.

Of course it doesn't always work. I stuff up, a lot, but that's ok. It means I go to bed a little wiser than I woke up, even if I do have a swollen tongue from trying to lick a slice of parmesan cheese attached to a mouse trap (only did that the once).

But wouldn't this feeling of happiness rob me of an incentive to try and 'achieve' altogether? It seems not. I don't know why, but I find instead it inspires me to try and achieve more, more stuff with my passion at its core. Kinda exciting really.

I was thinking, it's not just the film that's made me look at these things recently, it's the spate of stabbings, first here in the UK, and now in Japan too. It just reminds me, there may be no tomorrow, so I'd better not place happiness there.

...Well, today is an extra happy day in any case, as in the last hour Apple's website has the announced the 3G iPhone, and an increase in storage on our family .mac account to 40GB from 10GB. What a glorious age to be alive in!

xxx joseph

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Missed me?

I've been waiting for a post that I've felt motivated to comment on for quite a while now. For this one, I have one simple question:

Do you actually talk like this in real-life? You know, the whole "isn't life just super" "live every day like it's your last" etc stuff? Or is that just reserved for the blog?

I don't know, I've read a lot of very similar-sounding posts from you in the last six months or so and, after a while they all blend into one. LIFE IS GREAT. OK, got it. I don't know if it's just me but it all seems a little "forced"...they just sound like regurgitated "lines"...I don't FEEL anything from your mumbles these days. However, on the odd occasion "reality" pierces your little bubble somewhat (i.e. your recent troubles with the long-distance thing...which I am very glad you've resolved by the way) or you write about your feeling for *twinkle* (by the way, is it really worth persisting with the nickname? I know her name, your friends do and anyone who REALLY wants to find it out for whatever reason could easily do so) only then do I really feel you are writing from the heart. The rest of the time it is just fluff. Just my opinion.

PS: Further to our discussion a few months back, I have now been "cut off" from the media for a good six months now and, yet, no change in my "cynical" outlook on life I'm afraid. Ho-hum. Guess the media isn't to blame for that then.

PPS: Mr Tame, when can I expect my invitation to the wedding of the year? Eh? ; )

10/6/08 15:41  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks for your opinion Anonymous.

As I've said before, the main purpose of this blog is not to make for good reading, it's to help me document life, and grow.

I've chosen to open myself up to people such as yourself for the purpose of my own growth, thus what I write here will be tend to be focused a lot more on my feelings, stuff I wouldn't talk about it daily life - daily life is for putting the feelings into actions.

Yes, there may be repetition, but that's how it is with my feelings. If the mumble were a book I would demand my money back for it only having one chapter that is constantly reworked, but it's not a book, it's the daily mumble.

When I do write about these things though, I write from the heart. I have no interest in quoting lines of others just for the sake of it (I save that for my Tumblr account).

Great to hear you've been cut off from the media for 6 months. I reckon if you carry on for another 6 months you will notice significant improvements in your battle against cynicism. Good luck. feel free to post your progress here so that we may support you.

What do you mean 'nickname'? *Twinkle*s never told me she has another name! Crikey, and there was me thinking we had no secrets to hide...!

You mean you haven't received your invite? Strange, I sent it last week. Oh well, I'll post the photos for you instead (and I'm sure you've already guessed the URL of our wedding website in any case).

10/6/08 17:04  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thinking on it a bit more...

I tend to feel a little anxious after posting mumbles such as this one. If I didn't know my audience, it would be a lot easier, but knowing that family, friends and colleagues do read it means I am potentially setting myself up for ridicule by people who matter to me.

But in a way, that's what makes the exercise so beneficial. By regularly publicly humiliating myself and taking the flak for it, I think I'm learning to not put so much weight on the opinions of others re. me. That doesn't mean ignoring advice or not valuing their opinion, but rather, being aware that being perceived as a bit 'different' doesn't actually matter. In fact it's a good thing, because it allows me to be more 'me' than I was before.

Sometimes, people may offer constructive criticism too; some things I've learnt through comments left on my blog have had a profound effect upon how I see life - and those comments will usually follow posts when I am talking about feelings / philosophies, rather than the 3G iPhone.

I think generally it's working as an exercise in facing fears and attaching less importance to the good opinion of others. Whereas a couple of years back I would have been mortified to receive the original comment on this post and would have probably deleted the post altogether, now, it's OK. I still have a way to go. There's a definite pattern that follows such postings (you may have noticed), and that's something still to be worked on!

All good experience ne.

10/6/08 17:53  
Anonymous Nikki said...

Inspirational writing Joseph :)

10/6/08 18:33  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thank you Nikki, much appreciated!

10/6/08 18:39  
Anonymous Amelia said...

An increase from 40G to 10G? ;)

I think it's an awkward thing to define happiness in this way. For example, I am happier now than I have ever been, but to say that I'd be okay if I were to be stabbed tomorrow, while I'm away from my family and Taku and while most of my friends are busy or not around, is something I can't do.

At the same time, I don't think that it's a sign of placing my hapiness in the future either, as I'm very attentive to my happiness in the present and have no particular ambitions that I feel the need to accomplish. I am constantly growing as an individual, Taku and I are growing as a partnership, I'm happy in that growth and that progress and enjoying my life very much, but that doesn't mean I'd be okay with it being cut off.

Basically, I'm uncomfortable with the idea that I can't claim to be happy unless I can also claim I'd be content with my death tomorrow if I had to be. It feels to me like an oversimplification of the concept of happiness, which doesn't acknowledge the difference between the type of happiness I get as an individual attempting new things and learning about myself, and the type of happiness I get from simply being with my loved ones whether I learn anything or not. Right now I can't indulge in the latter so I'm more focused on the former, but to die without experiencing the latter again is not something I'd be okay with.

11/6/08 01:55  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks for your comment Amelia :-)

So good to hear that you are happier now than you have ever been. Makes me smile that does.

I understand your take on happiness, and it's good to have examples of different approaches to it.

I wouldn't even attempt to provide a definition of happiness that could be applied to anyone other than myself, as I think it's just far too subjective. I think that being happy to be faced with death tomorrow isn't a necessary requirement for being happy today, as death has pretty dire consequences (!), thinking about which would only naturally rob today of that feel-good factor.

I guess I'm using 'death' as a means to isolate myself from the future, in a bid to judge how I feel about now, if that makes sense.

The Happiness Foundation states that

"Happiness is defined as ‘the overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole. In other words, how much one likes the life one lives. In this definition, happiness is something you are aware of. You may have a disease without knowing, but you cannot be unhappy without knowing. In this definition, happiness is also an overall appraisal of life. Hence you can be happy with life-as-a-whole, but be dissatisfied with specific domains of life or feel down now and then."

...but I would disagree with that. I personally think that in that definition there's too much emphasis on happiness 'with life' which to me suggests that happiness has to be associated with one's physical circumstances.

But perhaps it does.

I guess the thing to do is to settle on one's own definition, and work towards bringing that about.

I think the reason why I state that I would be OK with dying (although I would do everything I could to avoid it if I was aware that I was in danger of being close to death) is that I have this idea that my time has been set already, somehow, that there would be a reason for death to come at the time that it comes, and thus it would not be 'unfair'.

There's so much I want to do in life and positively look forward to (such as starting a family with *Twinkle*), but ultimately, were that not to be possible, I feel I could have 'no regrets'.

11/6/08 02:23  
Anonymous Amelia said...

That makes sense, thank you for clarifying! :)

11/6/08 06:53  
Anonymous Amelia said...

You're still pleased about an increase from 40GB to 10GB, by the way. :D

11/6/08 06:53  
Blogger Joseph said...

(i actually used cunning back to front wording to confuse people.

"an increase in storage on our family .mac account to 40GB from 10GB"

naughty me :-)

11/6/08 06:57  
Anonymous Amelia said...

Ooh, that's clever! Either that or I'm very thick. I know which one I think is more likely to be true! (^_^;) (Wow, that's really quite embarrassing...)

11/6/08 11:37  
Blogger Joseph said...

I'd put it down to my reversing an everyday pattern of speech and our natural ability to read the beginning and end of sentences and letting our brains guess the middle bit!

11/6/08 16:18  
Anonymous Little Mint said...

This is pretty random, but is it just me, or is the "wedding blog"'s URL not published on this website? :)

13/6/08 05:02  
Blogger Joseph said...

You're right Little Mint.

It kind of has to stay that way unfortunately as otherwise we might have a Facebook wedding with 3 billion people...!

13/6/08 05:55  
Blogger Little Mint said...


Congratulations though! :)

13/6/08 20:27  
Blogger Joseph said...

Sorry little mint.

And to sorry to hear about your ramen shortage!

13/6/08 20:31  

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