The “Enjoy Life” Mission is Not to be “Happy”

I’m not sure what the title of my blog causes people to assume, but I don’t, by any means, “enjoy life” all of the time. I feel like there is actually a very devastating and stressful pressure to “enjoy life” among a lot of people of my generation, and I’m hoping this blog can be the place where we can let go of pressures like that. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you felt it too?

The Pressure to Be Happy: You Have No Right to be Sad

Maybe the pressure comes from the stresses that previous generations had to go through to get us where we are today. We have food on the table, so we really shouldn’t complain. That makes sense.  But then we have the other end of the spectrum.

The Pressure to Be Happy: You Should Be Rich Doing What You Love, Everyone Else Is!

We could end up being famous like entrepreneurs that run the social media websites and singers that compete on our televisions. We see people making millions for doing something they enjoy, so why shouldn’t we be able to do the same thing?

If we end up in a good job, there’s pressure to be “happy” in it especially if it makes big bucks and we worked our lives for it. If we aren’t in a good job,  we either should find a good job or make the next billion dollar idea or be the new YouTube sensation.

The possibilities are endless, so why are we the only ones in a mediocre job in an icky mood when everyone else is traveling the world having babies and creating masterful lasagnas and found-art garden statues from Pinterest while getting billions of views for that video they posted of their kid saying something silly?

Maybe the pressure comes partially from the fact that we are visible. We share our joy and love with everyone we’ve ever met through various “feeds” so we can graze on everyone’s updates like farm animals sharing space at the trough.

The last thing that I want this blog to be is a place that contributes to that pressure to be happy and joyous.

This Blog is Fueled By Frustration & Fear

I am a person plagued with insecurities, anxieties, fears and frustrations. I also meditate and like to try and improve my relationship with the world. My regular frustrations and insecurities are blessings because I constantly have something to work on, write about, and share to relate with others who are feeling the same things.

This blog is not here to make you happy or to add to that pool of one-sided joy you see in your feeds. It’s here so that we can catch ourselves responding to these pressures and realize that nothing is wrong with us. Everyone gets pissed off, feels unfulfilled sometimes, and wonders whether they were the only one who slipped into adulthood without passing the test that everyone else took that shows you do in fact know what the heck you’re doing.

The Point is to Be Willing to Feel Something New

I know that dishes in the sink will always piss me off sometimes and that I’ll always have frustrations with my job, no matter what the job is or what type of dishes they are. I could make billions a day for testing the softness of pillows and have rainbow crystal opal dishes and I would still get pissed sometimes. That’s okay.

When I pretend that I don’t get mad or that life is some perfect happy everything-happens-for-a-reason type of thing, my heart rots and I start to feel alone, feeling like everyone else gets to just do what they love all the time and that I should be doing that too. I need to remember that it’s okay to feel genuine feelings even if they are icky. I don’t have to run from them or make them all fit into the mold of “happy” against their will. Then I feel fake, and that’s not cool.

“Enjoying life” from the perspective of this blog is not about being happy. It’s about noticing the may ways we run away from the present moment and making the choice, sometimes at least, to feel something new.

Did you think this blog was about being “happy” when you first found it?

Do you ever feel the pressure to become something different or be somewhere different than where you are now? Does that pressure come from you or from somewhere else?

Do you think you’d have fun as an Internet Sensation?

Creating Wider-Than-WordPress Community: Facebook Pages & Blog Awards

At first, I was very excited about my blog’s associated Facebook page. I have recently been trying to make it a better place for people who like the blog. Something about the constantly-displayed statistics seems to just make me want to keep improving. I considered making it a home for my blog awards.

Now I notice I’m having lots of questions about the point of the page to begin with. Maybe you guys feel similar things with your Facebook blog pages, or maybe you have some useful feedback for these questions.

Feelings About Blog Awards:

I love blog awards in some ways, especially when I get them from someone that I admire, or when they show me that someone really did appreciate our connection.

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Mediating My Media: Am I Old, or Am I Sam Elliott?

If I picture that I’m Sam Elliott, somehow Pinterest becomes less annoying.

The other day I wrote an article on an herbalism website with a cute picture of my dog. I proceeded to pin the picture, and then tweeted the pin.

I realized that if I was more skilled, I’d probably have facebooked the tweet of the pin of the picture. Or maybe that’s the dumb thing to do. I’m not sure.

And that’s what makes me feel old.

I have nothing against technology itself. Not a darn thing. I don’t have a problem with the act of facebooking a tweet of a pin of a picture, but…what if someday there are more?

What then? Can I keep up for forever when I’m barely hanging on a thread now?

How Do The Kids Do It?

The kids do these things so seamlessly; it’s as if their very blood and brains are pumping with html code and built-in photo filters.

(Once, I had a dream that the world started to look like Instagram to save everyone trouble. It was horrifying.)

Last night I had a revelation. The fast-growing importance of the Internet is scary, but not like horror movie scary or even Lifetime movie scary.

It’s more like the wild frontier. The buzzy glowing pulsating world of the Internet is unfolding before us in previously unknown glory, and it is up to us to make the most of it.

Sure, there are some strapping young cowboys and pretty maidens that have an easy time fighting off plagues and jumping from rock to rock over the swift chilly rivers of change, but that’s okay. Good for them. There’s also Sam Elliott.

And he’s not young. But he is awesome.

How Can The Old Folks Do It?

There are plenty of writers that have embraced technology and seem to be dancing over the rocks on that river. Jeff Noon, for one. His blog Metamorphiction is pretty amazing. It is as if he is living in the realm of the Internet and manipulating all of its features like play dough.

Probably because he isn’t afraid of it. Isn’t afraid of learning, isn’t afraid of letting it all in and not resisting the shifts that are happening.

The Truth

It’s time that I fess up that many of the grievances I have towards technology are really my insecurity. Well, some of them at least. I’m afraid that things are progressing so fast that I am having a hard time maintaining speed, and if I fall too far behind at any given moment, maybe I’ll end up in a stampede of gigabytes or an avalanche of megapixels and never find my way to the gentle warmth of the sun again.

Worse, I fear my writing will never find its way to an audience because I won’t know where to put it. I’ll be sticking the newfangled CD into the familiar old VHS slot, when really neither are working because it’s the wrong television set entirely.

So there. I got that off my chest, and also shared my secret.

When in doubt, just be Sam.

Your Turn!

Now, how about you? Is it easy to tweet your pins of Facebook updates, or whatever it is you do?

How many sites do you think we will have to maintain in the next year, four years, five years?

Or are things just fabulous either which way and none of this matters and good writing will find an audience even if the writer is just pretending to understand how to use social media?

The Like Button: Fast Food for the Pleasure Principle

You can always see it, you just have to look.

Look more closely. Always.

We all do it. We turn on our Facebook or our email, we see that seven people *liked* something we wrote, and we feel good. If three people I never met like one of my blog posts, I’ll admit it, I get a nice little tingle inside.

However.

This situation is getting out of control, people. Not only with the *likes*. Not only with the obscure friend requests, the comments, the ability to *like* a comment. Pretty soon you’ll be able to like someones like, and pardon my lethargy when it comes to adding the stars, but you get the idea.

I think that this mentality is creeping in much farther than we think. Our social interactions, which used to require effort and intention, are now being reduced to a series of clicks and keystrokes. I can tell you that I love you by typing eight letters and two spaces, four spaces if it is in some sort of context. And even a period or a comma if I’m one of those who still remembers their petty and yet incredibly important existence.

No longer do I have to send a letter to you from afar declaring my affections, with the honesty of my words being shown through my pen strokes. I don’t even have to walk to your house or make plans to meet you. I don’t even have to hear your voice over the phone, because I can simply text. This can feel rather normal, but it’s actually insane.

Someone who *likes* your post does not *like* you. Even someone who follows my blog, bless all your precious souls, does not really know me, does not really care about me. I am here, in this room, strangers yelling about a horse shoe game outside, cars passing by in whiry blips of noise, a boyfriend typing away on the bed trying to get the dog to be less lazy; and anyone who follows my blog doesn’t know this. Even though in some sick way, it feels like they do. It feels like when they start to follow my blog, they are actually aware of the whole situation. I feel that if someone *likes* a post I write, that they know what I actually meant. What I was feeling as I left it.

And this is not the case. But it gets even worse.

There’s a pet peeve of mine that is developing a rather intense aggression problem as of late. Look. Facebook doesn’t care what you like or share. They do not give money to things that you like or share. Some organizations have valid offers in which they give you a discount for something or a coupon because you *like* their page. But people that I love and respect are actually thinking that if they make a Facebook post about Southwest Airlines and *like* it, that they are getting free tickets. It’s not even from the actual company. Seriously, people? You really think that the already cheapest airline is going to give free tickets to anyone that clicks a button, to anywhere that they want to go? That. Is. In. Sane.

My point is this. We need to realize that real life-changing experiences are not as easy as clicking on or sharing something. Each one of us needs to take account of our social lives, and sort out the whole-grains from the processed foods. We need to acknowledge how much of our daily social gratification is coming from real life, from people who love and respect us, who see us and hear us; and people who are sitting somewhere else in a room we’ve never seen, clicking buttons to show their affection; regardless of how much they mean it.

The feeling of really relating to someone is deeper than this. It is intense. It involves breaking barriers, feeling empathy and sympathy, and sometimes feeling incredibly uncomfortable. It involves seeing, smelling, and feeling the air. It involves effort. It involves time. It involves intention and attention. It is not instant. It is not getting a cheeseburger from a cow you’ve never seen in a place you’ve never been in less time than it takes to get the money out of your wallet and check your text messages. It is hearty, full-grained, fibrous and all-consuming of your being in the moment. It is not something you do while you are drinking coffee and having a conversation with someone else at the same time.

Humans are complicated and amazing. The food you eat today somehow turns into cells that become your body later. The things you do today lead to memories that affect your consciousness in countless ways that you cannot even imagine. And each time that you click a *like*, or receive one and feel something, you are being programmed. This can be an amazing thing if well-balanced with a social life that has plenty of real and life-enhancing interactions.

We are all affected by this. No baby that has cancer is suffering in a hospital that has staff sitting around seeing how many people “shared” a post of that baby and carrying out the treatment accordingly. No airline is calculating the people who not only shared, but liked their own post about the airline, and doling out free tickets to Hawaii. People aren’t doing this. The fact that many of us believe that the whole world is watching our minuscule contributions to Facebook and giving out money to those in need is sad to me. If you want to help a baby with cancer, donate five dollars to a good organization. Make sure it’s their real page, by the way. If you want free tickets, try to find information on the actual website. Don’t just believe things, don’t just click buttons. That is not how *LIFE* works.

We need to remember this. Especially those of us that are watching it happen right before our eyes, because those younger than us are just eating it up. Sometimes humans like to take the easy way out. We want to drink alcohol to express ourselves. We want to use auto-correct instead of looking up a word in a dictionary. We want to send an email or a text instead of making a phone call. We want to get our protein by eating meat, but we don’t want to get our hands bloody in the process. We want to be healthy and eat quinoa, but we have no idea how to grow it. We want to feel that those who *like* our little posts are telling us that we are good.

I am blessed to be living with a boyfriend who actually sees me. Actually understands my moods, listens to my needs, expresses his own, and loves me. I have never been so lucky, and I am in a position that is different than many people. I feel like I am wearing the sunglasses in They Live, because I am not hungry for the things that are being offered. But to those who are, I feel the need to do something. To say something. To remind people and myself that life has been happening and is still happening, and is never as easy as clicking a button. So please. Do not confuse the two.