Tag Archives: Happiness

Gratitude is Actually Pretty Cool

First, let me do a quick update on the state of my blog. After my streak last month I haven’t done a damn thing here in April. I think this is only the third or fourth post this month. I was prepared for my views to tank due to my lack of consistent posting, but the universe has decided to totally fuck me over once again and has me on track to maybe reach that mythical goal of 1,000 despite the minimal effort I’ve put into blogging recently. The past 25 days of April I didn’t care — I’d save my effort for another month to reach my goal — but now I find myself wondering if maybe I can pull it off with some desperate posting in the next four or five days. I suddenly give a damn again and I’m upset about it.

I’m proud of this though. I’m proud of myself. As much as I like to shit on myself, I can allow myself to be proud of it. And I’m thankful for those who stumble upon my content and actually read/enjoy it. Which leads me to the actual topic of this post: gratitude.

A friend at work who I consider my impromptu unofficial self-help/self-discovery guru started some fitness plan with a few other coworkers. Luckily I wasn’t included in the actual program because I’m a total slacker, but she was thoughtful enough to email me the .pfds of the program. If I wanted to I could get off my ass and ‘unofficially’ do the entire thing, but once again my motivation was/is shit and I couldn’t pull it off. And I don’t think I want to pull it off either. I have a hard enough time writing blog posts and stories to take on the task of getting my entire life in order. I’m a slacker and I fully admit to it, something about loving yourself despite your flaws.

The program seems to consists of three major aspects of health: eating right, working out, and getting your mindset straight. I’m sure you can imagine which one I put the most emphasis on. I think mental health is the cornerstone for any healthy life because if you feel like shit and are constantly depressed you can’t pull anything else together. You mental state is how you process the world — it is your reality — so even if you have the perfect life depression will make you blind to that fact. And while you can eat healthy or exercise when fighting depression everything is a constant struggle that you must use pure willpower to make any progress. For me at least, mental health always take precedence over anything else.

Not that all aspects of health don’t work together in synergy (God, I hate that word). Exercise as well as healthy eating can help your mental state. I also think everyone is well aware of what the need to improve on with those; sitting on the couch eating cheeseburgers all day is not healthy. Improving your mental state is really vague and hard to work on, a lot harder than not eating cheeseburgers/pizza all day.

I read the ‘gratitude’ .pdf and liked the gist of it. The reasoning behind it seems to be that if you start your day off by making a list and actually thinking about what you’re grateful for you’ll improve your entire outlook for the day. You put your brain into a positive mental state which sows tiny seeds that can grow throughout the day. Not that shitty things still don’t happen, but you’re much more likely to think about your gratitude and hold a positive mindset during these times if you’ve written down something earlier.

I used to sort of do these things on the drive to work. Kinda hype myself up for the day. Tell myself that it’ll be a good day, or look in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this. It’ll be a good day. Stop worrying.” In the bathroom a few days ago at work I looked in the mirror and said, “I look good today. I feel good today. Let’s do this.” Tiny shit like that. Obviously anything as spontaneous as this works somewhat, but not as well as anything with structure would do. This ‘gratitude journal’ seemed like the structure that I needed while having stumbled upon the general idea of ‘the power of positive thought’ earlier. Maybe I’d give it a shot.

So I did, begrudgingly. Listed three things I was grateful for. Listed two ways to make the day better. And came home from work and listed three things that were good during the day. And a singular way to make the next day better. Whatever. Bedtime, hours of Reddit, and eventually sleep as the sun came up. The following day I dragged my ass back to the computer to start day two. This time I made a dedicated .doc file for my journal and wrote the questions down so I could simply copy and paste them into the next day’s entry.

I knew it would work, but damn if it isn’t nice to surprise your persistent inner pessimist that it actually does work. It’s so uplifting after a “bad day” to sit down at the computer and uncover two things that actually were good about it. We fixate on the bad so much that it dictates our entire mood for some reason. Capping the day off by writing down two nice things brings your mind back into positive territory where you can enjoy the fact that good shit does infact happen. Daily, too. Wow, who would’ve thought? Days are always a mixed bag of good and bad, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad and you admit that it was a “good day”, but most of the time we only see the bad. By writing down the good you’re forced to acknowledge it.

And writing down positive things at the start of the day also helps, but in a more subtle way. You start the day by acknowledging the good you have and this uplifts your mood slightly during the day. I’m not going to say it fixes the day for you, but it does add that little edge-up on life that might make the difference between you totally spiraling into anxiety/depression/anger or letting it die and wither away before it really gets a hold on your mental state.

Today was the fourth day I’ve done it, and there’s another nice aspect of it; by plopping down at my computer to write things that I’m grateful for I’m setting myself up to actually write. The hardest part about writing seems to be getting the computer and turning it on, and a gratituide journal takes care of this for you. I didn’t really want to write this post, but I had my computer open and had already typed in the journal, so going to WordPress and actually writing was much easier.

As a challenge to anyone who reads this, what are you grateful for? See if you can list three things that you’re grateful for and see if your mood improves slightly during the day. And at the end of the day, try writing down a few good things about the day. Every day offers gems and it’s only our incessant focusing on the shit that makes us think there are no gems in life: every single day has gems if you care to notice them.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Streak Day #8 Sucks (and some stuff about tracking your mood)

I picked up my first supply of SSRI antidepressants yesterday and was surprised that the pharmacist actually talked to me about what I was picking up. I’m use to showing up and grabbing a bag of mild pain pills (like the 600 mg ibuprofens) or antibiotics and giving a firm “no” to the question of if I had any questions. No, no questions from me, thanks though. They’re antibiotics: take them until they’re all gone, diarrhea is a possible side effect, and whatever else. The same is true for those pointless 600 mg ibuprofens. Sure, I need a subscription to get them, but at the same time I could easily buy some of the 200 mg over-the-counter ibuprofens and take three instead of the recommended two. Oh what a dangerous rebel I am.

Yesterday I picked up some serious shit: meds that alter your brain chemistry and can fuck with all sorts of things. Apparently serotonin is in charge of numerous bodily and brain functions, so toying with its level can have some serious consequences. I don’t even recall all the possible side effects, they’re frightening though. Let me try. Sleeplessness, sleepiness, restlessness, nausea, dizziness, depression, possible suicidal thoughts (yikes!), among others. It doesn’t sound like a fun drug and I’m having a ton of anxiety about it.

Stupid thing that I’ve alluded to before: they take “at least a week” to have an effect. This is what I read somewhere on the internet at least and noted this to the pharmacist in an attempt to show him I wasn’t some ignorant fucker picking up pills. The pharmacist told me it would most likely take two weeks for me to notice anything, and four to six weeks for my body to really stabilize on the drug to where I would notice improvements. Even scarier is around the two week mark I should, might, possibly, go into a funk where “things might seem worse and you might think the drug isn’t working for you; this is normal so try to get through it.” What the fuck? You take an antidepressant and in two weeks your mood takes a total nose dive? Damn.

It feels like I have a ticking time bomb in my mind, and more so than usual. I’m always terrified about the next random crisis that will cause my mood to spiral downward, but this time I get a timeframe to expect it in! I don’t know how I feel about that — it’s nice to know I guess — but now I’m anxious about it. Maybe I’ll put it on my Google Calendar: “Crisis Starts? March 18, 2020”. The day after St. Patrick’s Day. Well, I’ve always hated that “holiday” anyways…

Let me digress for a bit. I’m a guy who loves his data, check this out:

I can also accurately see the price of fuel in the past, the number of miles each vehicle is driven in a month/year, and the total operating cost of each vehicle is. It’s useful as fuck.

I track our vehicles’ fuel mileage on a monthly basis. I also track a bunch of other random data that I think will be interesting/useful. Weekly bank/credit card balances, my weight, bike riding times/running times, and for some reason The Walking Dead viewers. Hell, I’ll post that below because it’s an interesting chart! Not that all of this data is inherently useful. It’s nice (and useful) to know our Dodge Caravan costs about 15 cents per mile to operate while our electric car costs a paltry 4 cents per mile, but besides the vehicle data it doesn’t really provide much insight. It’s still nice to have though.

The season 7 premiere is where we all found out who Negan killed. It was Glenn and this pissed nearly everyone off, Glenn being an all around good-guy with a loving wiafu and a baby on the way. As you can see the series really died after this.

That’s was quite the tangent, but it did have a purpose. A few years ago I thought it would be fun to attempt to quantify my mood. As multifaceted and complex as your mood is, I thought it would be interesting and perhaps insightful if I could plop a number to it twice a day. You know, a 1-10 scale of how I felt in general with 1 being borderline suicidal and 10 being like the happiest I had ever been.

One thing I learned from this not-very-good experiment was that actually writing your mood down twice a day and assigning it a number made me much more mindful of how I felt. After a week I think my mood even improved because I was aware of how I was feeling, and hence could change it. I guess I’m saying if you know your mood is a 2/10 you’re aware of it and not just feeling shitty in a passive manner. After a few weeks I was on a consistent streak of 7s and 8s.

On these drugs and struggling with the fact that my mood might crater in the next two week, I think I’ll start this process again so I can see how these things actually affect me. It’s such a pain in the ass trying to be objective about your mood over a few days, let alone months, and it seems a disservice to the doctor if I stroll on in there in a month and give vague answers about how the drug is affecting me. By keeping a spreadsheet with daily “mood values” I can look back as objectively as possible and give accurate answers. I also think I can objectively identify this impending two-week crisis and maybe stay mindful that it’s an expected thing and I shouldn’t let my mood drag my mood down. Or something like that.

Give it a shot if you want, I highly recommend tracking your mood and think even once daily would help you see your trends. Maybe you can pull yourself out of a funk if you notice it happening.

Not Enough Time Sucks

“What do you want to do with your life?!?”

-Seemingly Everyone

My default way of brainstorming is apparently lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. It feels like I start every blog post off this way, because it’s true. Anyways, I was lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. and was in a good mood, shockingly. I was looking forward to the following day and all of the possibilities that it offered me. I had a good selection of books that I wanted to read (Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules, Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, Six Pillars to Self-Esteem, Dune, and every other book in my backlog), and more so than just read them, I wanted to understand them. I’m talking about really absorbing the books, taking notes on them, and reading and reflecting on what I had read. I also wanted to do this with a handful of musical albums. As with reading, I want to absorb the songs and understand them. I want to look up lyrics and ponder how the words play over and off the underlying music. There’s just so much going on to appreciate! And there are other things I want/need to do: I have a 5k coming up in a few weeks that I’m totally ill-prepared for, I need to write…and oh yeah writing! I have like three stories I’m working on along with this blog and I need to proofread stuff, and figure out a way to actually self-promote any writing I do accomplish. Work is still a thing and I also want to maybe work on being a flight instructor as a career. Who knows what I want to do?

It’s at that point I realized that my problem isn’t lacking things I enjoy doing, it’s having the time and motivation to actually do things. There’s just not enough time in the day (or in general) for me to do all the things I want to do.

Many of the tasks need patience, time, and thought to accomplish. Sure, while I could sit down and write blog posts/chapters and proofread them quickly, the same isn’t true with reading a book or listening to music. To really appreciate these things you need to take your time with them. You need to let your mind properly process them. And more importantly you can’t multitask them. “Why don’t you just listen to music while you write?” you might ask. It’s because when you write you’re probably not listening to the music like you’d want to. I’m a firm believer that the human mind can only really focus on a singular thing at once and listening to music in a distracting environment does the music a disservice. To really enjoy music, a book, and to appreciate the subtleties of any of the arts, you need to do them solo. To really dive in and appreciate what is going on.

Obviously there needs to be some form of prioritizing here and I don’t even know where to begin. Ranking things based on importance seems silly; reading is just as important to me as music and I can’t pick only one. There is also the question of what I actually feel like doing. Sometimes I’d rather read than listen to music while other times the opposite is true. Movies seem to have an even more unique mindset I need to be in to watch them. It isn’t a simple matter of prioritizing, or maybe it is and I’m just awful at having self-control. Forcing yourself to sit down and listen to music when you want to read seems almost sacrilegious in a way. And I don’t know how to decide what I actually should be doing with my time.

To be ultra depressing you can scale this struggle of what to do up from hobbies to careers. I have a handful of job-like things I could be working towards, and these take even more time and effort than reading or listening to music does. I think this is the main reason why people never seem to know what they want to do in life, it’s such a big decision to make that I understand why people simply don’t make a decision. “What you want to do in life?” seems to be such a loaded question in so many ways. It seems to be asking what you want to constantly be working towards day after day in your free time and your work time. And when you look at it that way no wonder people can’t fucking pick. There is absolutely nothing in this world that I’d be happy doing eight or ten hours each day, every day. I like my variety and choosing “what I want to do” seems to force any and all variety out of life, even if it isn’t true in practice.

I also like to blame video games for altering my outlook on what I want to do. Video games make it easy to accomplish literally anything in the game world you want. It’s a matter of dedication and time but in such a way that you can actually make progress. All of my skills in Stardew Valley are maxed out: IRL you can never max out every possible skill available. Hell, even in games like Skyrim you can still do certain things outside of your expertise. Even a wizard-mage-magical person can shoot a bow and kill things, just not very well. And even if you can’t do everything in a single play through you can always play multiple characters and accomplish everything the game world has for you to accomplish. There is no choice of “What do I want to do?” because you can do everything.

Real life forces you to actually pick the things you want to do, and hell if there aren’t too many interesting things to do. I want to write fiction and nonfiction. I want to blog. I want to fly airplanes. I want to make music. I want to paint or something. I want to put solar panels all over the house. I want to read and listen to music and go sit outside and enjoy nature. I want to stop climate change. I want to start a grilled cheese food truck. I want to live in the woods. I want to be a Buddhist monk. But there are only 24 hours in the day, 365 days in a year, and a finite amount of years left in my life. I physically can’t do nearly everything I want to do, and narrowing things down seems like an affront to the variety of things that life has to offer. It’s not so much that there is nothing I want to do, in fact there is too much to do that I’m paralyzed by the choices offered to me! I guess it’s a good problem to have but dammit if knowing that I’ll never get to experience all the things I want to do doesn’t feel awful. I hate deciding. I hate making choices. Especially when these choices involve things as important as choosing what to do with the time given to me. If only I could choose to have more time. But that’s kinda like what the Genie in Aladdin said about wishing for more wishes. You can’t do it, it’s illegal.

Enlightenment Sucks (Part 1 of ?)

I’m pretty much a closeted Buddhist. I say closeted because I’m not really good at being a Buddhist; I’ve never been to a temple and I’ve never actually done anything extremely “Buddhist” whatever the fuck that means. I also have a blog where I write “fuck” alot, complain about everything, and seem to hate all sorts of shit: this also doesn’t sound very Buddhist of me. But I do have the mindset that favors introspection, curiosity, understanding, and being at peace with the world and find the “religion” (if you want to call it that) to be very appealing. Buddhism just kinda clicks with me I guess.

Buddhism doesn’t attempt to place universal blame on some entity for suffering or salvation on someone else’s back: everything seems to be solely up to you. While Christianity seems hell-bent (pun!) on saving your soul through Jesus Christ, Buddhism seems to be focused on saving your ass from yourself. To prevent you from making your own life miserable. And instead of some holy figure to guide you, you’re given the Buddha: some dude who figured out the way to be enlightened. That’s about it. He himself wasn’t actually special or anything: he just figured it out. Life is about finding enlightenment and that’s it. Because, according to Buddhism, the only problem with your life is your mindset. Life isn’t fucked up: it’s your view of life that is fucked up.

What is enlightenment exactly? Buddhism seems to define this as being “aware of how things are” and in a slightly different aspect of it “happy” or at least “okay” with how things are. Buddha didn’t become a saint or do anything magical; he was just a guy who figured shit out and was at peace. This is cool because if some random dude in India figured shit out, then so can you! I suppose at the end of the day — and maybe everyone feels this way — I have the same goal: I want to have a deep and fundamental understanding of existence and be at peace with it. Even if something shitty happens to me I want to be able to back up, view the event from an outside perspective, and be “happy” or “okay” about it in some form or another. This is what enlightenment is, at least to me. It’s kinda hard to put into words really.

The problem arises because I’m fucking terrible about being happy and thankful with the current state of the world! As much as I idealize this idea of enlightenment I’m actually awful at placing it into action: I’m an angry and pissy person and it’s hard for me to see any positives in anything that actually happens. My own personality, while liking the idea of being enlightened, seems to be diametrically opposed to it.

Here’s an example. I was out on the porch drinking just being in the moment and while not purposefully meditating I was still in the zone so to speak. It was like a form of passive meditation. There were kittens outside playing and I was simply sitting there, watching them, totally at peace with the world. Life was good. I would assume that Eastern philosophy and Buddhism would refer to this moment as “enlightenment” (especially Zen as this moment was a kinda “aha! I get it!” moment) and while I didn’t ascend to a higher plane or have any deep insights I was at peace with the world (which is the deep insight really) and totally okay and accepting of anything in it.

But apparently not. Because that’s when the neighbor lady showed up.

She came outside and started trying to call one of the kittens over. We named him “Rain” which is a pretty fucking stupid name anyways, but apparently she had named him “Cutie” which is another level of stupid. So there I was, peaceful, buzzed, and in the Buddhist-Zone when this lady starts yelling in a loving, motherly voice but with the tone of pure nails-on-chalkboard, “Cutie! Cutie! Where are you, Cutie?! Come here kittykittykittykittykittykittykittykitty !”

“It’s an older meme, sir, but it checks out.”

I about lost my shit. It wasn’t as if this slowly wore my mood down over time — no — as soon as she started screeching at the cat my blood instantly started to boil. My pulse and blood pressure notably skyrocketed. My peace, love, happiness, and understanding instantly disappeared in a fiery moment of pure hatred towards this other person. Another being in the universe having the same experiences and troubles as me? My ass. This lady was totally ruining my goddamn peace love and happiness! Didn’t she realize how utterly fucking annoying she was? Didn’t she realize that you can’t force a cat to love you? Didn’t she understand that the kittens were playing and didn’t give a fuck about anything she was screeching about?

(Insight Note: You can’t force a cat to love you. They’re passive beings that love doing their own thing. The kittens had more love for me passively sitting there and not bothering them than they did for the overly aggressive lady that wanted the kittens to love her. Cats have to love you on their own terms. I put myself out there to be loved by the kittens, but at the end of the day I try to leave them alone until they’re accepting of me. This is also true of people. WOAH. 3deep5u.)

Obviously this wasn’t a very cash-money Buddhist way of feeling, and I almost feel bad about these intrusive thoughts. Almost. The thing about meditation is it makes me happy and when this happiness is interrupted I get angry, usually way too angry for the situation. It’s really frustrating because I’m obviously not at the “peace, love, and acceptance” level where I can deal with incidents like these. I’m still horribly flawed even if I do have glimpses of enlightenment and peace and this makes things even more frustrating.

The Buddha when I lost my peace thanks to Neighbor Lady.

And it’s times like that where I think I’m not cut out to be enlightened or at peace in life. I’m just not worthy of it. Im kinda a jackass. I talk shit about some of my coworkers and while my supervisor is a very peaceful, loving, and “everyone has their own story and struggle and you shouldn’t judge them” type of person, I can’t seem to not shit all over people for doing the smallest thing wrong. I understand what she’s getting at, but can’t convince myself to feel that way even if I do think that way. I’m a goddamn dirtbag! While on the surface I understand that people have their own struggles and so on, I still can’t put that into practice and, ya know, be a good person.

In fact I’ve almost started embracing my dickishness. When I’m at the store I openly cuss in front of children. I scowl as people that stand in my way. I’m petty and bitter and love saying “I told you so” when I’m proven right. I don’t go out of my way to make people miserable (I’m not “Karen” asking to talk to your manager) but if I’m pissed-off it’s hard to hide it. I’m all for self-improvement and think everyone should try to fix their flaws, but at the same time I think everyone needs to be themselves, which makes zero sense really. It pisses me off when I see Facebook posts saying something like “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.” It sounds like justification for being a terrible person. I want to not be a terrible person but I also want to accept myself as-is, even if I apparently am kinda a dick. It’s confusing and contradictory.

As much as I’m into the Buddhist theory and mindset, I’m apparently fucking terrible at putting it into practice. While I like the idea of enlightenment, I realize that I’m not the type of person to actually be enlightened. Something is always pissing me off (which is nice when you have a blog called Everything Sucks I guess) and even if I had an amazing day, I’ll still be upset by something. (“I won the lottery? Well now I’ll have to pay someone to do my taxes for me next year. Fuck.”) It’s a constant feeling of I’m not good enough and I’ll never be good enough in terms of my own peace, happiness, and well-being. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be an enlightened person.

Facebook Sucks: An Introduction

This will be shocking to you, but there was a time when Facebook didn’t exist. I remember this because I’m apparently old. I graduated high school in 2004 and there was no Facebook at the time. (Fun Fact: Apparently Facebook was created in early 2004 so there was a Facebook but it sure as hell wasn’t the massive beast we know currently.) A few years later this thing called MySpace was pretty damn popular and was basically a prehistoric version of Facebook. Eventually that place went the way of dinosaurs and phone books with Facebook becoming the de-facto social media website. Now everyone has a Facebook page. If you don’t you’re seen as a social outcast or something.

Another fun fact: before our hyper-connected world partially enabled by Facebook, life was actually enjoyable. You’d live your life and do the shit you wanted to do and you didn’t think once about “sharing” it with others. You might call your friends and family and let them know what was up but that was the extent of it. Currently, no matter what we do we keep our internet personas in the back of our minds ready to share anything remotely interesting (or not) we happen to do in life. Social media has a way of drilling itself into your subconscious and keeping itself ever present in your mind. It’s like a disgusting virus that wants you to get “likes” and appear cool.

This is obviously bad and I’ve been rebelling against Facebook periodically since I first created my personal page about 10 or 11 years ago. The current iteration has been around for about four or five years. It’s like my social life periodically undergoes mass extinction events where I just give up and disappear. In fact some of my old high school friends thought I had died because I’d just randomly leave the social media universe. What’s stupid is that I keep going back to Facebook and have to rebuild my friends list and that’s a pain. I’m imagining my friends think that I just delete them and re-add them not realizing I had nuked my account. It’s sad and it’s depressing but it’s simply what happens. So why do I periodically delete my Facebook accounts?

Since this occurs over and over I assume it’s a problem with either me or Facebook. I snap and delete my shit every few years and I’ve come to accept it. The last time I tried this was about 6 months ago. I was well into blogging and my “personal business” so I knew I couldn’t delete my personal page because then I’d lose all of my blog pages (including this one) so I just deactivated it. I guess I was realistic with myself and knew I’d be back so why should I cause myself more problems? I had narrowly escaped another social media collapse. I was right because I did eventually come back (and we always do…) and I kept Facebook in check for a few months. I wouldn’t check it as soon as I’d wake up and would stay logged out. I finally became in charge of my Facebook usage. For a bit that is.

So how was it? It was wonderful. I hate being overdramatic but my happiness immediately improved when I quit seeing everything on social media. It was such a tiny and simple change to my life that lead to some immense benefits in terms of well being. Even logging out and checking Facebook only once a day gave huge improvements. I can’t underestimate how much not being on social media has helped me even if I have relapsed in the past month. There seems to be a direct relation with how much time spend on Facebook and how miserable you are and seeing as I’ve “relapsed” I’ve been given a fresh perspective on why Facebook Sucks.

But why specifically does it Suck? I have a few ideas and I don’t think I’ll put them in this post simply because it’d be too long. I suppose that’s a good problem to have if you’re a blogger but no one likes reading a super long post. Think of this as an introduction. So far I’ve identifies three things (but maybe more!) that make Facebook shitty: it’s a time-sink that affects your productivity; overexposure to the news and helplessness to change anything will destroy your mood; and finally and most importantly there’s “reverse-schadenfreude” for lack of a better word. I’ll write and publish those posts and link them here in a day or so. Enjoy!