THE QUESTION: CAN YOU BE DIFFERENT AND HAPPY? (Part 2)

THE QUESTION: CAN YOU BE DIFFERENT AND HAPPY? (Part 2)

“Happiness is the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky

The happiness question is one that sits squarely in the conscious or unconscious mind of every human being. Whether we realize it or not, we are all actively or passively looking for the “feel good”. I challenge you to examine everything you ever wanted in your life and tell me which of them isn’t about achieving a good feeling in the end. Is it sex, food, friendship, love, kindness, companionship, wealth or fame? The ultimate desire that man holds regarding every endeavour is to have some good feeling as a reward. Man hopes to accumulate a constellation of good feelings that coalesce and give shape to the highest feeling of all, the summit of “feel good” called happiness. This is what every single one of us is doing.

However, because we have not taken time to carefully consider what happiness actually is, we keep chasing it and not getting it. Then we go into despair or rage, blaming people or situations for our unhappiness. I guess all of us have thought about the things we think will make us happy, but have we given any serious consideration to happiness itself? How can you hope to successfully achieve something that you do not understand? What really is the true cause and source of happiness?

That seems like a strange question, isn’t it? I mean, everybody knows exactly what will make them happy. If I were to ask you what it would take to make you happy, I’m sure you would reel out a long list of items, needs and desires that if acquired will make you very happy. In other words, we all go about believing and accepting that the state of happiness which is subjective (being an event that occurs inside our minds) is dependent on external factors. We believe that even though happiness is something that happens totally on the inside, it is also totally dependent on what happens on the outside (i.e. what happens out there in the world, outside our minds). But is this really the case? Perhaps we should examine the evidence.

Let us be very practical about this. In order to solve this “happiness problem”, we are going to perform a little experiment. Let’s examine the level of happiness and unhappiness as concerns sexuality among the Nigerian LGBT community. We accept that people who have families that are accepting of their sexuality would be more comfortable in their skins and therefore happier. But let us consider those who do not have such support. I encourage you to assess in your mind the level of happiness or unhappiness in the latter group. I don’t know about you but I have observed a great variation from person to person in terms of their emotional response to their sexuality. In other words, two persons living in similar homophobic situations sometimes respond VERY DIFFERENTLY to the same situation. One seems to take it in stride and the other is perpetually weighed down. It is not uncommon to find among our circle of friends different ideas and different feelings about homosexuality. We also find different levels of distress concerning sexuality from person to person. The question is this; how can we explain these differences?

We must acknowledge that external events have a role to play in how we feel. However, the mere fact that good feelings can still be experienced in the absence of favourable external conditions calls into question the idea that happiness is completely determined by what happens to us. Let us call this thing (whatever it is you think will make you happy) Object A. Concerning happiness, we think that if I get Object A, then will I experience something called happiness. But every day, we see people who do not have Object A, and yet are quite happy. And we also see people who have the thing called A, who are NOT happy. This scenario proves that the association between Object A and happiness is not absolute. In fact, it can be argued that it is an artificial association because there exists a group of people who skip a step in the happiness process and get straight to happiness itself. In other words, they become happy in spite of not having Object A.

I propose that the association between happiness and specific conditions is an artificial one. That it is artificial doesn’t make it unimportant. I mean, if I have said that if I don’t get a job in the World Bank, I will never be happy, it just means that working in the World Bank is really important to me. However, it does not change the fact that such an idea is not absolute and was created by the free use of my imagination. Yes, terms and conditions apply but I created these terms and conditions and I can change them at will. Such is the power and freedom of our imagination. I could decide tomorrow that working in the World Bank will not make me happy and then rather think that living in a monastery for the rest of my life will make me happy. I want you to realise that we are simply playing with different ideas in our heads as afforded by our ability to imagine.

There are some ideas that we have picked up by virtue of birth into our particular kind of society and we unconsciously assume them to be absolute. For example, we all think that we need people to approve of us. That is why you bought car A instead of car B; you chose to rent house A instead of house B; you chose to wear shirt A instead of shirt B. We are very conscious of what people think about us, believing that if their rating of us is favourable, then it is GOOD. And that if their rating of us is negative, it is BAD. This is why it hurts when people reject you because of your sexuality. That they rejected you is not why you feel hurt. Rather, you THINK you need their approval and acceptance to be happy. It is this idea that gives teeth to their actions towards you. Uproot this idea from your mind and the pain will disappear.

Becoming aware of this idea is very important because not only can we weigh it for truth value, we can also change it. You believe that your family should love you but they have disowned you because of your sexuality. Now their love is something you cannot have. This does not mean happiness is something you cannot have. It would only be so if you choose to associate happiness with family love and acceptance. When you realise that this association is created by YOU in YOUR mind, then and only then will you realize that you also have the power to destroy it. Is it possible to not be loved your family and be happy? Yes! So what are you waiting for? How can this be achieved? Decide that any negative opinion about you because of your sexuality is NOT important because it is rooted in IGNORANCE. Why should an opinion that springs from ignorance be allowed to assume such importance?

But do you know that homophobes are ignorant? That is the question.

Written by Sensei

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THE QUESTION: CAN YOU BE DIFFERENT AND HAPPY?

This entry should probably begin with a definition of happiness. What is happiness? What do we mean when we say we are happy? What does it mean to be happy?

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17 Comments

  1. Dennis Macaulay
    October 21, 06:09 Reply

    Decide that any negative opinion about you because of your sexuality is NOT important because it is rooted in IGNORANCE. Why should an opinion that springs from ignorance be allowed to assume such importance?

    Preach! Preach! Preach!

    Oh thankyou Sensei for this morning sermon on the mount. Homophobes can kiss my big black ****.

    Meanwhile about happiness? Give me a banana island mansion and let KB move in with arched back in tow and we are fine!

    Shikena

    • posh6666
      October 21, 08:26 Reply

      Lol this ur obssession for that boy,am pretty sure his not as tight and perfect as u want him to be,sum1 sumwere is probably already tired of banging him.????

        • posh6666
          October 21, 08:39 Reply

          Lmaoooo oh dear sorry for ruining ur perfect imaginations….mr unlooker

    • Delle
      October 21, 13:29 Reply

      If I say your very conspicuous obsession with KB doesn’t irk me, I’m eating your ice-cream!
      DM…pls leave Korede for me, he belongs with me! I’m a very prim and prom person, but I fight dirty when it comes to things of the heart, my friend.
      Be warned! *stomping away*

  2. Chizzie
    October 21, 08:22 Reply

    This feels like a lecture, like I’m in philosophy 501 class. So I’m just going to pull a Ronnie Phoenix and not read this through but still go on to comment anyways

    • ronniephoenix
      October 21, 15:13 Reply

      Oh chizzie, you read my mind, I just skipped the 501 post because I am “mentally lazy”.

      *winks at everyone*

      Just waiting for comments.

      Xoxo.

      • Pink Panther
        October 21, 15:52 Reply

        You say that like it’s something for you to be proud of.

        • posh6666
          October 21, 15:55 Reply

          Lmaoooooo d poor soul didnt even realize d shade that was thrown

    • ronniephoenix
      October 21, 18:12 Reply

      @posh, really just shove your opinion.

      @pp, I totally understood the meaning of chizzie’s statement, I am not “proud” of being mentally ill, but I will never be ashamed.

      If people talk trash about me, I really don’t care. I mean what could be worse, I have attempted suicide so many times I have lost count.

      I really don’t care abt what people say or think, I want to move on, I want to be free but I can’t. But one thing is for sure I will never let what some ignorant stupid people think drive me to commit suicide ever again.

      I am mentally ill, but I will not be pulled down, I will be strong and will be alive to shove it to these bitches.

      • posh6666
        October 21, 18:20 Reply

        Lol yass!!!!hunnay u can do it.#TeamTuffBitches#TeamThis dont let this bitches drive u to commit suicide,stand up for urself lmaooooooooooooooo

  3. Max
    October 21, 08:26 Reply

    This entire piece is all about rational thinking which I happen to like a lot. But we all know humans are highly irrational beings. We rarely make rational decisions in our life.
    Its up to everyone to choose which rational thinking to abide with and which not to because at the end of the day, we’re only human, not robots.
    We can only choose not to “feel” for so long..

    • ken
      October 22, 05:28 Reply

      I somewhat agree with u

      All this is very good in theory and on paper, but not so much in reality. Cos like it or not, we are constantly seeking for other people’s approval and acceptance, and nobody wants to be alone or shut out.
      So even tho we know we will never be understood or accepted by family, we keep doing everything hoping they will. This is d reason most of us will remain in d closet, get married to the opposite sex and pretend to be “normal”

  4. Mandy
    October 21, 11:48 Reply

    ‘Decide that any negative opinion about you because of your sexuality is NOT important because it is rooted in IGNORANCE.’

    That is a very tough thing to ask of a species whose default is the impression of its community, what people think, what people are saying. I often say that while it’s ok to care what people think, stop short at letting their impressions govern your day to day decisions.

  5. JustJames
    October 21, 12:55 Reply

    Happiness is a rather complex topic.
    One thing I’ve gathered so far so good is that being happy is not a destination but part of a journey called life. Sometimes we’re in happy city and other times we are in sad town.
    I doubt it’s possible to be in a state of perpetual happiness.. Whether we like it or not external factors beyond our control will always play a part in determining our mood. What I think is that we should learn to take the good with the bad. Sadness comes and sadness goes.. So does happiness. We can however take solace in the fact that no matter what (for healthy minds) there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.. There will be something to cheer you up be it an external factor or something you have to dig deep inside to find.
    There’s no need to search for happiness.. Just enjoy life with it’s ups and downs.

  6. Khaleesi
    October 21, 14:55 Reply

    Its easy to say; ignore everyone around you and be happy, but its much harder in practice than in theory, as humans we are conditioned very deeply to be social animals … a lot of our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing is heavily dependent on the actions/inactions of those around us .. it is what it is!

  7. Peak
    October 21, 16:08 Reply

    Ok, I have read this piece for the 2nd time, and like the 1st time, I swore I understood it, only to finish it with a blank expression on my face.

    Happiness is a concept that I may never truly understand so I ve already given up on it.
    It’s not a perpetual state. It can not sustain itself, so you have to constantly do thing or find those triggers that would spark a chain of rejuvenation whenever u are low on “happy”. Pamper urself, knock down a feat, get a toy, surround urself with positive energy or like u suggested (Sensei) talk urself into it. It always needs sustainance. So I don’t think its humanly possible (i said “I”) to condition urself to see the world as one big ball of sunshine and lillies. There is so much “talking and conditioning urself into it that you can do before it starts sounding like a tired, broken, repetitive and redudant record.

    About approval, I’m sorry, no one is going to tell me otherwise. We live in a world of approvals. From ur parents begging and cooing to u as a baby 2 open up and eat, or smile, crawl, walk, talk for mummy/daddy, to getting through school and striving to come out on top all needs approval. Getting a job requires approval. Landing a contract and even the concept of reward and motivation by behaviourist is hinged on approval. Same rule applies in the animal kingdom. For successful mating to take place, u have 2 earn tbe approval of ur mate, for u to serve as head of ur pack, u have 2 earn ur place which equally rest on approval. You don’t turn off on all that. We don’t exist in abstract, we exist within a system and that system plays a vital role in shaping every ramification of our lives, starting from our inside, which eventually manifests on our outside. There is so much zoning out u can do, before the cracks starts showing.
    Yes we can never get approval from everyone, most times from the ones we want them to come from the most. I just think the least we can do is create a coping mechanism or some make believe, utopia/happy Valley that u can get away or just look else where. That is why a lot of us Straight, gay and inbetween keep looking for that approval in all the wrong place. Forgive me if I don’t buy the idea of perpetual, uninterrupted happiness. To me, it sounds like a myth. It will always be a fleeting feeling u enjoy momentarily before it passes away, then u have to engage it and urself to catch another ride on its tail.
    This is my take on the subject.

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