The other day at one of my shows someone asked me if I was happy. I said yes, but I felt like I was lying. However, I don’t mean this as I am unhappy. It’s just that I feel happiness is a moment to moment feeling. In general, I feel happy, but even on a good day there are moments when you might feel a twinge of sadness, a flash of anger, or a moment of regret. I’ve said before that I view happiness, in the way we think of it in America, as overrated.
To me it is much more important that you live a life of authenticity than it is to be happy every moment. One should always push themselves to try and do new things. Often taking risks and trying new things can be stressful. I could be happy just reading a book on my couch sitting next to my dog. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. But an entire life of that wouldn’t really be living would it?
My last post was me promoting a solo show. In order to get ready for that show I will have to do a lot of work this week. I will also be stressed trying to make sure that it is promoted properly, that I am prepared musically, etc. If it all goes well I will feel some sense of achievement. However, no matter how well it goes, I will be thinking about what I could be doing better next time and so on.
My point is that playing that show will be the thing I will remember a few months down the road, even though getting ready for it will cause me moments of stress. Meanwhile, the time that I allow myself to relax and unwind and enjoy myself will be largely forgotten.
Last year my girlfriend and I presented a paper at an environmental conference in Costa Rica. We had to speak to a full room of people who were experts in the field. We had the fewest credentials out of anyone else that was speaking, although she has a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, and I was going to school for the same thing at the time. It required a ridiculous amount of work and there were definitely moments of stress as we realized what we were getting ourselves into. The thing is, I will always remember that day with pride, but I can’t say that until it was over that it made me happy.
Meanwhile a thousand moments of happiness since that day have been forgotten. I mentioned earlier this week that I got a Playstation 3 for my birthday. I was looking up games and I found one that I really enjoyed playing before. Until the moment that I saw it I had absolutely no recollection of ever having played it, and it was one of those Japanese games that takes like 80 hours to beat.
I’m not saying that one shouldn’t do things that make them happy. The brain needs times to relax. I feel that one is able to take on larger more stressful tasks if one also has moments of relaxation and enjoyment. But it is far more important to take chances and try new things. Change and risk can be really stressful. But it just might lead to a life worth living.