We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy with what we think about. The amount of work is the same. It takes more muscles and energy to frown than to smile. Frustration, anger and just being mad can cause headaches, upset stomach, and generally a bad day. So I question why don’t we want to be happy. OK, let me go back to the beginning of my mini research project.
It started with an e-mail from this group of retired guys I sometimes hang out with. The big claim was that Minnesota was about to be taken over by Sharia Law (the sacred law of Islam) and they gave several examples to prove it. Not sure why they decided to do all this research but I did know that they were really upset about it. In any case, since I was about to meet them for breakfast I decided to follow up on their research before I met them.
This e-mail was a compilation of stories several years old. The first was a story about a cab driver which was at least three years old and it was a “public interest” story on a local news station. Apparently the driver would not allow dogs in the cab. The ending said that the only thing that happened was that this cab driver and his buddies lost money. By-the-way there was nothing illegal about it. The second story was about a chain store exempting employees from handling pork and was also at least two years old. The original story was a positive public interest story about religious tolerance by local merchants on a local TV station. The third was about a lady being allowed to carry a drug called “Khat” because she was Muslim. Khat (pronounced “cot”) is a natural stimulant and a drug of choice in the Middle East. In any case, the “Khat” lady was arrested and charged with possession. That part they left out of their e-mail. I am sure there is a disturbing trend here but the stories do not tell it. So there was no logic to their argument as far as I could see but they were really upset about this. They were also convinced that I should be upset as well.
Well, I attempted to point out that their research was meaningless. That argument had no effect. I then asked them why do you make yourself so upset over this stuff. Why not just be happy? They looked at me like I was crazy. After a while I discovered that they were looking for passion, not happiness. It really didn’t make any difference if the basis for the discussion was bogus or not. To these guys they felt alive if they were in a lively discussion. The bottom line here, this was an emotional argument. My attempts to bring logic in were a total waste of time.
“Never assume – you’ll make an ass out of you and me” – as best that I can determine was made famous by an episode of The Odd Couple aired in 1973. I made two wrong assumptions. First I assumed that they would listen to my well researched logic. The second, I assumed that they would be better off happy. My bad!
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. –Abraham Lincoln