Whether I’m looking in a mirror or looking at any man across from me, I’ve come to realize we’re all fighting the same fight. It doesn’t matter if our vessel is a row boat, or a single kayak, or the all-purpose runabout, a sailboat, or a yacht – we all have the same battle against the sea. We’ll have lovely weather, squalls, and sometimes all-out war with storms. Money or power doesn’t shelter you from this. Even the best built boat may have to get bailed when the waves spill over.
In starting this blog (which is now…[I had to look, since I didn’t remember] over 4 years ago[I was surprised to see that]), it began as a way for me to blow off my steam and chronicle my own journey through the urban jungle that is married life for me. But it became apparent I wasn’t alone. In fact, maybe there are men much stronger than me that are at peace with all things in their wonderful life, but I’ve never met one. With my finger on the pulse, it isn’t hard for me to see the cracks in any man’s psyche. That super good looking neighbor with the hot wife and seemingly perfect life? He feels trapped and unfulfilled too, and when you see him at the sportsbar with the other parents between a break in a tournament, he’s downing three beers at lunch to help cope. Your boss, with the power and the money? He’s insecure about the Division budget, and if his wife’s spending will let them ever retire, and if his weird kid with no ambition will ever launch. Or you super fit and buff gym owner? He’s worried if he’ll have enough memberships to float another month, while fighting the haters on Facebook and trying to do the best job he can with his clients (while dealing with a bum shoulder). Meanwhile, he’s exhausted, and his morning gym-opening obligation is on a different daily schedule than his newish hot girlfriend, so he gets laid less than the average married guy. You may not see this, because we all put on our armor every morning so friends and enemies alike can’t see our wounds and weaknesses, but I do. My wife may be better at seeing people for who they are and reading their intentions (like a gypsy…she has a serious skill in this area), I can figure out people’s soft spots fairly quickly.
I tell you this so you understand that the appearance you see from everyone (be it on Facebook, or the face they present in public) isn’t nearly so rosy as you think. Sometimes people feel better simply knowing that obvious fact. Sometimes people think they are the only ones who feel those crushing insecurities or feel they are unworthy of what they have or think there’s no way they can have what they want. I’m here to tell you it would be a little weird if you didn’t feel like this at least once in awhile. We are all doing our best to keep the barnacles off ourselves, so we may keep the barnacles off the boat we are captaining, so we may be the Best Captain for our passengers we can be. Some people’s ship may be sleeker or newer or have some deck hands to help, but they all are on the ocean too, which means they experience the same world you do, and even in calm waters and sunny skies the air can get dry and the salt can irritate the skin.
What can we do to be happy? There are basically three main tenants. I boil them down here for all to see. Any self-help book has 90,000 words that will present these three points you’re getting for free. You’re welcome.
If you want a happy and fulfilled life, you need:
- To figure out your life purpose, and be walking that path in some way.
- Have a connection with the Universe (or God, or some spirituality greater than just you)
- To deal with your bullshit. (That means shoveling out your internal and external “stuff” on a regular basis, or instead finding ways to either Give No Fucks, or develop processes that deal with your general life dramas, money issues, job issues, or wife/kids issues).
Let’s break this three legged stool down just a little more.
Life.Purpose. Life Purpose. Those words are fucking daunting. Like, we’re supposed to have one thing we love so much it is going to almost always make us happy. Penguins. Working on cars. Teaching. Hiking. Running. I’m not sure there is a magic wand for most of us. Sure, maybe some people live to do one thing day after day. Dan Blizerian may be the exception, but after hearing him on a Joe Rogan podcast recently, I know he too is looking for more. Duh. So build up several things that give you passion. A few years ago, when I was doing a lot of thinking and interviewing for new jobs, I put the three values down on paper [Help others accomplish their goals, Be a good steward to the environment, and Build and maintain relationships]. Just defining this (which I follow in all my life’s avenues) helped me hone in on where I was going. So I do my best to live with the number of purposes I have in my ever changing life, discarding those that aren’t my purpose any more and adding new purpose. Cull the herd, they say. Don’t feel like there is a magic sword in the stone that once you pull it out you’ll be happy. It is trying lots of things, having the grit to get good at a few, and then either keep at it, or find other things to fulfill your spirit. Just because your favorite podcast person talks about how they’ve found their life calling, doesn’t mean that you have to, and don’t put that pressure on yourself to find your “one thing.” Upon thinking of my own situation, I find that concept somewhat ridiculous to my own life and situation. If you know your life purpose, consider yourself lucky as most people I know feel like they have no idea.
Spirituality, the Universe, God
Religion is a topic I don’t talk about. Spirituality is a little easier, and I delve in it from time to time. I was raised Catholic, and have always felt a tangible connection to a higher being. Some call it The Universe. Star Wars refers to it as The Force. If you don’t have a quiet mind or dedicated time, you’ll never connect to whatever this power is for you. As being a leg in the three-legged stool, you’ll need to make sure you make this a priority. Meditation. Yoga. Binaural beats. Sauna. Float tank. Church. Star Wars marathon. Whatever you need to do, connect to this higher level and allow it to energize your spirit. I’m re-reading The Celestine Prophecy which is somewhat like a parable but is also Spirituality 101. I’ve also enjoyed The Secret which some may scoff at, but both are connecting to a higher power and feeling the energy that life has to offer – connection. If that’s not your cup of tea, but going to church or finding your own version (my BIL’s church is fishing on a boat), then you are a rich man. I’ve come to the conclusion that even with all material and personal wealth, if we are lacking that connection to a greater good, we feel alone and unfulfilled. So meditate. Or go to church. Or ponder. Or read these hoo-ha books. Or do it all. It satisfies the soul.
Deal with your Bullshit
Finally, certainly the most present of the three happiness legs is dealing with your bullshit. My bullshit piles up every single day. I have two kids, which generates roughly 103.1 e-mails per day. Teachers. Coaches. Photos. Shit to buy. Doctors. Dentists. Band. Choir. The Rec Center. Then the wife drama – stuff she brings home from work, bitching about the wrong coffee you bought, leaving a mess herself. Or the job, always a big elephant of shit. So we have to do our best to not let it press against the steel girders of our life and not let it start the rot away at the foundational abutments. Let the money get out of hand it will eat your marriage and well-being alive. Let your kid have too much reign on video games, or the internet, because it is easier for you to check out after a hard day than deal, and the steel will begin pitting in areas – and then start rusting.
Don’t let the drama creep in your life. Forgo the fries and get a salad. Walk at lunch. Turn off the video on your phone and make your wife or kids do the same, and actually communicate. Play a board game for fuck’s sake. These are all ways we deal with our shit and prevent erosion of good stuff. Put methods in place so there’s less bullshit to deal with. Automatic payment on bills. Automatic withdrawals to save for college and retirement. Delegate to your staff. Because if you let it get out of hand, you’ll find yourself 40 pounds heavier, passing your wife or kids like a ship in the night with no connection, working a job that’s not enjoyable, and saying “how the hell did it get like this?” It takes a little work every day to deal with your bullshit versus letting your bullshit deal with you. Better to face your deficiencies and obligations head on than ignoring them. As any Dave Ramsey fan will attest, people who call in that show just let it spiral out of control. That could be you. Stop the cycle.
If you do those three things: 1) Find some sort of Purpose, 2) Forge a spiritual connection to something bigger than you and 3) Deal with your bullshit instead of ignoring it, you’ll likely be a happy camper. When you start giving zero fucks what the outside world thinks and live a life that you want to live is when you’ll find freedom. Fight Club (one of my Top Five favorite movies – Go watch it again) has it pretty damn close, except instead of chaos and destruction, I prefer harmony and love, but other than that it’s message is spot-fucking-on.