About Happiness

I really should be studying but I need this out of the way. It’s been knocking around in my head a lot. It needs to get out peacefully or it’s going to breakout.  Lately my weeks have been themed. One week it was poetry, another week was feminism and then reaction engineering then Neil Hilborn and Hipster logic…it goes on. Themes suck. All the confusion is fucking with me. I used to be a person of principles.  Now I’m a person of too many questions.

(Something I’ve always meant to make clear and I always forget. I’m not really a sarcastic person. I’m only really sarcastic like one out of ten times. When I say I’m sitting upside down, I probably am. Take that shit seriously.)

I know that my intros usually have nothing to do with what I usually intend to write about but really shouldn’t fucking bother you. You aren’t tied by the neck here. If it makes you uncomfortable you can leave. In fact leave.

I’m bitter. Finals will do that to you.

So happiness. What a bitch.

I will sound very stupid if I say it takes very little to make me happy but it’s the truth. It also takes very little to piss me off but let’s focus on the happy part. I think we’re all like that. In an earlier blog post this week I mentioned that we people find things to make us happy in weird and unconventional places. Making lemonade out of lemons if you will. (Happy Ethiopian Epiphany by the way) and we find ways to be okay with whatever challenges this bitch world is throwing our way. But finding happiness is always the end trophy we fight for.

Let me tell you one stupid example and you are under no circumstances allowed to judge me for this. At one point this year, I suddenly developed a craving for cake. And for some reason the universe found it amusing to keep me away from cake. I would make plans to go to town and get some cake but I would end up having class all day and then a makeup class in the evening that I absolutely couldn’t ditch. I decided to go on a Sunday and I even found my Sunday busy and when I finally made it to the bakery one Sunday evening, they were closed! It was freaking annoying. The quest of getting my hands on something as insanely available as a piece of cake became like my mission.

One day the following week, I finally got to convince three other people that they needed cake as much as I did while we were working on something and I finally got my cake. I did have to buy the cake for all four of us but it was worth it. I got to eat cake. On the ride back to campus, I suddenly felt super sad. I turned to my friend and I told him, “I really wanted to eat cake and I did. Now what?”

“Qal stop being weird. Now you shut up and study.” He said.

So if we were all asked what makes us happy, we say different things. Here are the immediate answers I found from kids around me as I write this.

“Making my father proud….” “Marrying my boyfriend….” “Finding a boyfriend…..” “Becoming a lecturer at MU(WHY?!)…..”

These are very much like my quest for the cake. I wonder if they would be very satisfied after the cake. Like the girl in the bunk below mine, she wants to be a lecturer. Would she be fulfilled if she does become a lecturer? Or would she then develop another idea of what would make her happy?

And then there was the ultimate argument about whether one should be interesting or happy. I genuinely believe happy people are boring and annoying. Maybe I just resent them because I’m jealous or I don’t actually believe they’re happy. They could be hiding that painful humanity in there somewhere just to make me feel bad about my life. I don’t know.

“….Ask yourself, would you rather be happy or interesting?
Would you rather be on the news or just watching it
Happy people don’t make history.
Happy people make children then die.”
-Neil Hilborn

This guy is hilarious and brilliant. He could be saying the most ridiculous things and I think I would still applaud because it may not apply to me but it applies somewhere. His poem Audiobook as I have come to understand it is about how if you want to create great art that people kiss and celebrate, you might have to make yourself bleed. You might have to create your own unhappiness to be a little less boring. It’s a very good idea. I thought it didn’t apply to me. Maybe it does. Maybe it applies to all of us on some level. People don’t want to listen to you talk about how awesome your life is. People don’t want to hear about how you bought cool new shoes. They want to see you fucking fight for that shoe and win. They want to hear about how you are depressed and brokenhearted and lost. They think they can relate and they celebrate you or they get to put you down for it. I have a theory about why EBC is shit. It’s because they always report “good news”. No one believes it. No one cares. We like conflict. We like blood. It makes us happy (?)

So the question this week for me has been whether I should accept that I just want to be happy and just wait for summer so I can stand in the rain (because I love rain. If rain was a person, I would marry it and have rain children with it) or go get myself a nice steaming cup of coffee and bury my nose in a Harry Potter book because Reaction engineering is an abusive shit of a course that I have somehow allowed myself to suffer through and if I just give it the boot, go home to Addis and decide that I was going to read books and take rain showers forever, I would be a very happy person. Poor. Maybe dead. But still happy.

Or I could try to be great. Someone implied that greatness is an illusion. If you are reading this, you know who you are. Thank you for ruining my evening and maybe my life. (And yes this time it was sarcasm.)(This sarcasm thing is getting out of hand)

Some people call high maintenance people annoying and others call them driven. So if I wanted to suffer through Reaction Engineering in order to become a chemical engineer, does that equal to a certain level of self-harming?

I don’t think I can allow myself to worry about this any longer. I can basically feel the dragon that is my final exams breathing fire as they call for battle and edge closer. I should be preparing for the battle; sharpening my sword, perfecting my swerves. But I’m just sitting here in my armour writing a blog post in my computer. Before I go off to arm wrestle my hand out, I will leave a quote from the TV series Scandal.

“Some people aren’t meant to be happy. They are meant to be great.”

I think I believe it.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ed Ramsay says:

    Interesting idea. In a case like this, as it is with most cases like it, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on the variables you’ve put forth and their relationship to each other and you as an individual. What does happiness mean to you? What does greatness mean to you? What do you prioritize in your life? etc… this questions must first be answered. Happiness can mean rain showers and J.K. Rowling. Happiness can mean walks on the beach at sunset with the love of your life (i scoffed at the corniness of that line). Happiness can mean having babies and continually vacuuming the house while complaining you get no help knowing full well it’ll look like it’s been squatted in the next day while secretly enjoying it. Don’t even get me started on greatness. Greatness can be going down in the history books. It can be having your name etched in the Guinness BOWR. It can be being seen as such by your children. These two variables can mean soooo many different things to sooo many different people. You also have to consider the difference between being happy and being content. Happiness, varying temporally, is usually fleeting. So the moment it disappears, we will begin plotting on how we will get our next dose. Being content on the other hand is a state of tranquil mental satisfaction and satiation that can last far longer. It is a state of mind rather than a spontaneous emotion. Take your friend for example, she might be content with becoming a lecturer (barring the possibility she might hate it and try something else) or she might be happy with her achievement only to eventually get bored with it. Also take your experience with Cake. You felt happy for a minute but you weren’t content. I’d say the feeling of sadness you experienced had it’s source in the possibility that you lusted and worked far harder for an achievement that had far less value in comparison to the effort you put into it. Where as your friend is working towards a goal that will encompass multiple years which must be sacrificed to attain it. The two feelings are relatively different. I’d take a gander and say that this difference also exists at a neurochemical level. Taking this difference into account is important. You’re not alone in your aversion of the happy-go-lucky types. However, I don’t mind a person who is genuinely happy. It’s honestly contagious. But thats just me. I’d rather someone was happy than all loom and gloom. But that also don’t mean you’ve got to plaster a fake grin on your face for the entire day.

    Now, on to the point about greatness and being interesting. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive nor are misery and greatness directly proportional. The more shitty your life is don’t automatically mean you’re more interesting. Misery doesn’t guarantee greatness or intrigue. Rather, I believe that people who often end up becoming great (barring luck) pay the equivalent cost to attain the level of happiness not greatness. I highly doubt the people that end up celebrated for their lasting contributions ever had “to be great” written on their checklist of goals. Authors, musicians, scientists, etc… The real ones all do what they do to attain happiness in some way. However, there is drudgery in between. There is misery. So in a way, I don’t think it has be one or the other. Like you taking reaction engineering to become a chemical engineer. You suffer through the class to reach a goal you’ve set for yourself, which itself might be a milestone for an even larger overarching goal. Goals you want to reach because you believe they’ll make you happy. I doubt it’s because you want to be “great” or “interesting”. I also don’t think you have an aversion to happy people as much as you have an aversion to people who aren’t as transparent, are happy with less, and reluctant to step out of their comfort zone. I say this because while reading your post, it was heading towards the direction of the Underdog concept. Like you said, people like blood. Not for the sake of it, but because we find comfort in seeing those who work hard, those who suffer, those who the odds are against, achieve their goals. Because we empathize with the struggle of facing the pressures in life. Just a thought.

    P.S I hate it when it rains.

    P.P.S Best of luck with your exams

    Liked by 1 person

    1. qal181 says:

      ” I don’t think it has be one or the other.” You said. I think if you look at the majority of the Ethiopian Campus pupil at the moment, many are

      Liked by 1 person

    2. qal181 says:

      in campus with the promise of good financial security, in extinction a happy future. A lot of us don’t actually enjoy what we do here. I think basically what it has come to these days is we choose between what makes us happy, our passion and what makes us easy financially stable and gives us the seeming picture of being “great” at what we do. Those two are more often than not different. So choose between greatness and happiness. This is not a theory. It’s what I’ve been seeing around for quiet a while.
      P.S. sorry the reply cut. I don’t know how to fix that.
      P.P.S I don’t know that I mad my point clear but I hope you get it.
      P.P.S. Thanks for the wish of luck for my exams.

      Liked by 1 person

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