“Happiness is the best makeup.” Drew Barrymore
Considering how much anti-aging creams cost, you’d think we’d stop being miserable altogether. It’s counterproductive. You’re doing all this work on the outside while the damage is being done on the inside. As Michelle Pfeiffer once said, “I think there’s nothing more aging than misery.”
Misery is tough on all of us. If it wasn’t, we’d all look younger. Since we don’t, it’s reasonable to assume we’re miserable. That’s when the anti-aging creams come out, along with nightly prayers that end with: “And…please, don’t let my arms end up looking like carpet bags.”
Since our arms are starting to look like carpet bags (not to mention our faces), it seems sensible to do something about our misery. Either that or we’re all going to look like basset hounds who’ve evolved to the standing position.
Nobody’s life turned out like TV shows. They’re TV shows.
Let’s deconstruct misery for a minute. What makes us miserable? Obviously a toothache or having our new car back-ended. Those we can discount. There’s nothing we can do except go to the dentist and start taking the bus. No, the misery we need to work on is selfish misery.
Selfish misery is us saying to ourselves “Life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted.” In other words, we aren’t living like TV shows. This shouldn’t depress us. Nobody’s life turned out like TV shows. They’re TV shows.
The good news is, our lives didn’t turn out like “Silence of the Lambs,” either. Nobody’s serving our brains with fava beans.
In the whole scheme of life, we’ve gotten off easy. Some people haven’t. They’re constantly having to dodge psychopaths, kooky dictators, extremist nutjobs and volcanos. The biggest dangers we face are dentists and overcharging body shops.
Real optimists don’t write books — not long ones, anyway. The long ones are almost always by phoney optimists.
So it’s hard to say our world is crumbling around us when it really isn’t. All in all, we’re doing pretty good. Some people see this instinctively. We call them optimists. A few write books, telling us we can live joyful lives. The way we do this is by reading their books. Those who don’t will rot in hell.
Given that nobody’s crazy about rotting in hell, we read these optimists, figuring they know what they’re talking about. Only these optimists aren’t happy. They aren’t even real optimists. Real optimists don’t write books — not long ones, anyway. The long ones are almost always by phoney optimists.
These phoney optimists write books because they were brought up to always “put on a brave smile.” They even attend functions where everyone’s grinning like breastfed babies. These are called political rallies.
Truth is, they haven’t dealt with their misery at all. They cover it up, expecting it to disappear with the next book launch. Eventually, they’re found facedown in a pool, slathered in anti-aging cream and surrounded by royalty cheques.
We laugh at a man putting his foot in a bucket of water because it’s possible.
Real optimists are too busy dealing with misery in a constructive way. They’re making it fun. In some cases, they’re so busy having fun, they forget they’re miserable, even though it’s being miserable that’s made them happy.
Let’s start with the fact that misery is a constant. If we aren’t making ourselves miserable, somebody — or something — is doing it for us. Rather than fret about it, real optimists look at misery for what it is: slapstick.
Slapstick was coined to describe physical humour. We laugh at a man putting his foot in a bucket of water because it’s possible. Anyone could mistakenly stick their foot in a bucket of water. The fact that it’s someone else and not us is hysterically funny. This is called displaced misery.
Instead of thinking how badly off we are, we can take comfort knowing we haven’t fallen down an elevator shaft or had an anvil fall on our heads.
If we consider how many bullets we’ve dodged (compared to people who are dodging real bullets), our problems are relatively small. You might say even laughable.
Life’s actually quite the giggle, so you might as well giggle. People like people who giggle.
Whoever said: “Laugh at yourself and you’ll never be miserable,” was really onto something. You can’t laugh and cry at the same time. If you do, it confuses the hell out of your tear ducts and laugh lines.
Life’s actually quite the giggle, so you might as well giggle. People like people who giggle. Do it often enough and “The whole world smiles with you.”
This is from “When You’re Smiling,” a song written by Larry Shay, a vocal couch for Al Jolson. Shay lived into his 90s. If you want to live that long, either smile or write a song about it.
Making misery fun is what real optimists do — and some are very successful. Sir Richard Branson smiles more than anyone I know. He attributes it to working hard and “always remembering to have fun.”
Considering what he owns — including an island in the Caribbean — he must be onto something.
We need more rhinos and fewer people who think powdered cartilage will give them wood.
This seems to be shared among most real optimists. They can do and say wise things and make you smile at the same time. Here’s one of my favourite Branson quotes: “Rhino horn has nothing your own nails don’t have.”
This should be printed on t-shirts and sent around the world. We need more rhinos and fewer people who think powdered cartilage will give them wood.
In any event, if we don’t want to look like upright basset hounds, we can’t let misery get the best of us. Turning it into fun just makes sense — not to mention saving a ton of dosh on anti-aging creams and cucumbers.
As Erma Bombeck once said: “There is nothing more miserable in the world than to arrive in paradise and look like your passport photo.”
Robert Cormack is a novelist, satirist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.