The Secret to Being Happy In Life

LieutenantBoyd_003It’s time to rediscover who you are.  It’s the secret to life, the universe, and everything, and I can tell you now the answer is not 42.

Right, and you think you know who you are. You don’t know anything, and I’ll tell you why it’s time for a quiet sit with a nice cup of tea and a rethink.  Got your tea?  Oh, you don’t drink tea.  Time to start.  Do yourself a favor and pick out a nice orange pekoe, they call it Constant Comment at the supermarket.  Go get some, come back, brew the tea, pour a cup, then come back here.

Have a careful sip, it’s hot.

Now where were we?  Oh, yes.  Rethinking.

You know that thing you’ve been telling yourself?  I’ll do this or that when the time is right, I have to wait for things to get better, I’ll be able to make my stand then, well guess what??  That day is never going to happen. Quite a shock, I know.  But trust me on this, it’s never going to happen.

You’re never going to be smarter than you are now.  You might be wiser later, or you might not be.  But the important thing is that whatever you’re hoping to be able to do, now is the time to start doing it.  If you want to go open a restaurant, it’s time to start not only thinking about recipes, but making a business plan and finding out what it takes to do it.  Want to paint, but don’t know how to draw?  It’s time for the foundations – go take life drawing, color is nothing more than a wet pencil with tint.  Trust me on that one.  Want to act?  Time to start dreaming, not stop – but do it with your eyes open.

Have you ever felt like there is a big secret to life and that everyone knows it but you and that nobody’s talking?  I’m talking, and I’m going to tell you what it is:  no matter what it is you want to do with your life, no matter what it is you want to become, it’s a solvable problem.  You can solve it in tiny bits and pieces, but it’s up to you to figure out what problems you have to solve and what doesn’t help you move forward, and that’s a very very easy test.  Think of something you think might help you.  Then think about how that’s going to move you closer to your dream, and if it isn’t, don’t do that right now.  Move on to the next thing.  And if you don’t know what to do, make a list of all the things you don’t know, write them down, and start asking  questions of people who know more than you.  Amazingly, most people who know more than you do are anxious to pass on their knowledge.  It’s a sign to them that they’ve been on the right path, and they’re generally very happy to do it.

But the big secret is that success is a matter of figuring it out.  It’s a puzzle, yes.  But it’s a puzzle with finite rules, learnable ones.  Have you ever assembled a bicycle?  Remember how hard it was, but you had those instructions to help you out.  Success in real life is just. Like. That.  The instructions are out there, and each step, each problem you have to solve, I can promise you somebody has done it before you and written down how they did it.  You have to have the persistence and the determination to keep looking things up as you go, but if you do that, and keep doggedly at it, and you don’t let anyone tell you that your dream isn’t worth while, inch by inch you will succeed.  And it will be ungodly slow.  You’ll feel like it’s like pulling teeth sometimes, that there has to be a faster way, and there just isn’t.  This is how it’s done – this is how it really works, and there is no faster way of doing it.

The last thing you want to hobble yourself with is the word “can’t”.  “I can’t, I came from a poor family and I have no education.”  “I can’t, I’m black.”  “I can’t, I’m gay/transgendered/some other fill-in-the-blank LBGT.”  “I can’t, I’ve ruined my life to the point where nobody will even talk to me.”

Yeah.  You can’t, because you have decided you can’t, and the only person who can enforce “can’t” on you is you.  You have never been more honest than you are at this very moment.  Be honest with yourself.  If you’re black, find black people who do what you want to do, and do what they do.  If you’re gay, sorry, but you have no excuse at all, I’m sorry, some of the most amazingly talented people in the world happen not to be heterosexual (and some of them are my best friends, and I can’t imagine my life without them).

The world is absolutely full of people who blame their gender, their skin color, their sexual orientation on not being able to live their dreams.  These people would rather sit and watch the world go by and cry and blame everyone for their problems but themselves.  That’s the other thing you have to do – own your problems.  Don’t be afraid to stand up in a crowded room and in a loud voice say, “Yes, I screwed that up, and here’s what I’m going to do to fix it!”  Everybody loves a leader.  At that moment, you go from failure to winner, and if you keep screwing up and keep taking responsibility for fixing it and then fixing it, you’ll stay a winner, and you’ll keep winning the rest of your life.  Screwing up and failing is a wonderful gift, because without it you can’t tell where you’re supposed to go next.  You don’t learn a damned thing.

If you think your life is stalled out because you don’t have an education, then go get one.

Oh, sure, easy enough for YOU to say.  Try MY life out for size.

I did.  Going back to school, I mean.  Really, my life was nothing I’d want to share with anyone before I did, it was pretty miserable for a lot of it. I went back to school to get my bachelor’s degree after trying to work in the FX industry for eleven years without one, getting nowhere.  I finally figured out that the rest of what I wanted to do wasn’t going to happen without that degree.  So back I went, and my life changed.

Lately I’ve been coming to the realization that hiding out inside my head is doing me more harm than good.  What have I been waiting for?  I’ve been waiting for my life to begin.  In the mean time, the years flow by faster and faster, and each year I’m older and I’m over half a century old now, and you know something?  If I wait, I’m going to be older anyway.

Look at it this way.  In a hundred years, you’re going to be dead anyway.  What are you saving it for?  The perfect moment?

The perfect moment is now.  Stop living in your head. Start living in the moment, and realize that the best times of your life, the best days, the best moments, are there right in front of you for the taking.  This is it.  This is the right moment.  And it’s never going to be more right, because every step you take from now on is going to make your life better and more right than it has ever, ever been.

And dream big.  Everyone dreams small dreams.  Dream of climbing that mountain, and don’t worry about how you’re going to climb the whole thing right now.  Just start with the hand holds and purchases directly in front of you, the ones you can reach from where you’re standing. And keep climbing.

You’ll find the way, I promise.  And stay in the moment, because you need that to keep your humanity.  And if you can do that, you’ll have solved it all.

Drink your tea.  It’s getting cold.

Was I ranting again?  I can never tell.

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