Illogical Ways To Be Happy.

Life throws curve balls. The trick is to throw them back.

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I swear to God, happiness is the best make-up.” Drew Barrymore

It only takes a few seconds for our brains to store a moment. Because we store so many moments in our lives, we get overload headaches. Most headaches are caused by the brain deciding you’re giving it a headache.

The people who suffer the worst have full email boxes and cluttered garages. The majority of migraines are caused by cluttered garages.

If you have, say, a 5:1 ratio of pleasant memories to stupid ones, you’re already happy. Reverse that order and you’re probably a terrorist.

Despite all these memories, though, it seems we can separate them out. Psychologist, John Gottman, now grades them by intensity, each falling into one of four categories: positive, negative, neutral and really stupid.

If you have, say, a 5:1 ratio of pleasant memories to stupid ones, you’re already happy. Reverse that order and you’re probably a terrorist.

Happy people aren’t always happy, though. They have bad days just like everybody else. What keeps them from being sad or angry, according to Gottman, is how they deal with it.

After considerable study on this subject, Gottman and others have concluded that happy people find ways to be happy. Sometimes these ways seem completely illogical, but they’re perfectly logical to the happy person.

My aunt and uncle had a happy marriage. Things weren’t perfect but, as my uncle explained, “We weren’t expecting it to be perfect.”

He was a war veteran. Like most war veterans, he saw a tremendous amount of destruction and death overseas. On his arrival home, he looked around, saw new orderly suburbs, people wearing clean clothes, and figured life was pretty good. “What did I have to be miserable about?” he asked.

From that day on, he was happy, even when he wasn’t. He simply turned off the sad and miserable memories. “I could be in a forest fire,” he explained, “and it was still better than Juno Beach.”

A raging fire out in Kamloops is a terrible thing, but forest fires happen. It’s often a freak of nature . As my uncle explained, “Life is full of curve balls.”

Obviously, forest fires are no laughing matter. To my uncle, though, you had to put tragedy into context. A raging fire out in Kamloops is a terrible thing, but forest fires happen. It’s often a freak of nature . As my uncle explained, “Life is full of curve balls.”

Some psychiatrists would call this “realistic thinking,” the ability to live with things as they are — not as we want them to be. Accepting “curve balls” is healthy, even if it seems illogical to everybody else.

The reason it seems illogical to others is because they expect good things to happen. They adopt a positive attitude, thinking that’s all it takes to get everything they want in life.

My uncle would call that illogical. He never expected everything to go his way. If it did, he enjoyed the moment, if it didn’t, he went to his workshop and puttered. Things look a lot better when you putter. There are a lot of putterers who simply wait for life to improve.

It will, of course, but most people aren’t big on workshops or waiting, or puttering, for that matter. We want happiness now.

Advertising supports this, of course, just as politicians do. In both cases, whether they’re talking hamburgers or reduced taxes, happiness is as close as your local burger joint or voting booth.

If using a non-political rock star got votes, Regan was thrilled although slightly confused. When he met Springsteen at the White House, he expected him to be taller.

Former president, Ronald Reagan, used Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” during his last election. He had to be told who Bruce Springsteen was, but so what? People liked glory and they liked Springsteen. If using a non-political rock star got votes, Regan was thrilled although slightly confused. When he met Springsteen at the White House, he expected him to be taller.

McDonald’s line “I’m Loving It” is another good example. We love to eat, we love to eat a lot. What better way to make us feel okay about gorging on fast food than saying “I’m Loving It”?

It’s totally illogical when you think about the sugar and caloric content of a Big Mac, but McDonalds understands the Gottman Principle better than most. By saying “I’m Loving It,” the happy-to-miserable ratio goes 5:1in favour of happiness.

The reason this works is because we’re naturally illogical. We’ll see smiling faces on television and figure, Hey, fun times are happening over at McDonalds. Our mood brightens. Then we’re hungry. The two shouldn’t be directly related, but they are. One third of Americans are clinically obese.

We don’t even mind being called weird. Some of the weirdest people are remarkably content.

Being illogical doesn’t necessarily make us happy, but it does free us, which in turn affects our dopamine levels. By “freeing” I mean we feel some contentment wandering from accepted paths. We don’t even mind being called weird. Some of the weirdest people are remarkably content.

A 40-year-old veteran was on Quora, admitting he starts and finishes each day listening to “Singing Monsters.” He also likes buying anything colourful and shiny, which includes Smarties, Gobstoppers and Sweetarts. “These are all colourful, btw,” he said, “as are singing monsters.”

As one person responded, “A peanut butter sandwich is just a peanut butter sandwich, unless you really fucking love peanut butter sandwiches.”

Not everybody does, obviously, but to each his own. We don’t tend to judge, unless your illogical happiness makes other people miserable.

Now, we expect a certain amount of shooting with military coups, since it’s more or less predicated on shooting — or at least threatening to shoot.

In some countries, there’s what’s known as celebratory gunfire. This occurs during festivities like New Year’s or military coups. Now, we expect a certain amount of shooting with military coups, since it’s more or less predicated on shooting — or at least threatening to shoot.

Not all celebratory gunfire, however, is military related. Puerto Rico, for instance, celebrates New Year’s by firing off guns. They usually average two deaths and twenty-five injuries a year. Bullets go up, bullets come down. Rules of gravity. Not terribly logical, but it’s done, anyway.

We hear enough of this on the news, and we wonder, given all the horrible things going on in the world, if it’s even possible to be happy. Some deal with this by ignoring news completely. When Donald Trump invented (or claimed he invented) “fake news,” a lot of people stood up and applauded. Mostly these were Republicans. They’re blissful at the drop of a hat.

Scientists and psychologists call this “illogical positive thinking,” whereby ignorance is turned into a bizarre form of idealism.

General George Armstrong Custer was so illogically positive, he attacked an Indian encampment, thinking it was just a bunch of women and children. It turned out to be 2,000 warriors from six Indian nations.

Rumour has it, he was happy as hell riding into the encampment, not so much riding out. He was found dead later at Little Big Horn, naked with an erection. That’s what illogical positivity does for you.

That’s not to say we can’t be illogical and happy. We just have to live with reasonable expectations. As my uncle explained to me, “We’re pretty damn lucky, as long as we don’t think we’re too damn lucky.”

My uncle laughed a lot, not because he found everything funny, but because he knew what it meant not to laugh. Most veterans do.

Once you accept that, it isn’t how happy you think you deserve to be, it’s being happy despite the “curve balls.” It’s knowing we’ve made amazing strides in life, despite all the gloom and doom portrayed on the news.This included sitting forward while playing GameBoy, or pressing the buttons harder, figuring more enemies would die from the pressure.

Someone wrote a funny piece about stupid things we do to be happy. This included sitting forward while playing GameBoy, or pressing the buttons harder, figuring more enemies would die from the pressure.

My uncle had no problem with that. “It’s the same as puttering,” he said. “If you think it’s working for you, it probably is.”

Robert Cormack is a freelance copywriter, novelist 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 (now in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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