The Abstract Art of Being Happy

Abstract – Daily Prompt

“Things are not as easily understood nor as expressible as people usually would like us to believe. Most happenings are beyond expression; they exist where a word has never intruded.”


Spring is in the air… well, it was yesterday at least. My friends and I ate a late dinner outside, without jackets. Alas, it’s been snowing most of today. The flowers look flustered.

Welcome to the Golden Years of climate change y’all. Despite all those frozen hexagons currently falling from the sky, spring fever’s been spreading like wildfire.

Instagram selfies, Facebook feeds, and even real live strangers seem peppier than usual. Happy, even.

I scroll through the endless feeds of happy humans feeling overwhelmed with all that happiness.

I swear, all my hometown friends are pregnant right now. They’re all radiant with newfound purpose, beaming with new life. Sidenote: Does Snapchat have a prego-glow filter, yet? Asking for a friend.

Everyone else in the social-sphere is getting ultra fit, casually sipping lattes with foreign castles for backdrops, or something strong but fruity by the sea… a few are remodeling their homes to make room for baby #7.

Meanwhile, I’m like:

drunk cinderella
Actual image of me embarrassing myself after formal party. Should not drink after midnight. Weird shit happens.

So much to be happy about! So why do some people (not me, obviously) insist on over-indulging in large goblets of crying juice, feeling frantically frenzied over all the things?

And why can’t said sad humans articulate real root of their toxic thinking, occasional emotional outbursts, and bucketloads of wine-induced word vomit?

What are all these darn social media friends doing differently to remain so blissed out all the time?

I’m self-aware enough to have a basic understanding of what I want to be happy (spoiler: wine + dog friends). But happiness itself is an abstract word. The idea behind the meaning of the word is a paradox. Happiness is the most innately and profoundly paradoxical paradigm. It’s part social myth, part science experiment.

It’s God and light. It’s joy and dopamine (see also: kittens, puppies, and babies). It’s steadfastness towards a goal. It’s relationship glue. It’s repression rewarded. It’s passion and purpose.

Cartoon image from Calvin and Hobbes.

It’s also sin in its purest form. It’s booze, drugs, and sex. It’s greed and gluttony. It’s primal pleasure. It’s nearsighted hedonism. It’s passion without purpose.

Happiness, you see, is a giant myriad of complex contradictions. Maybe it’s best not to ponder it and just be it.

“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so,” said Utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill.

In all our confused complexities, our right to the pursuit of happiness is, perhaps, a responsibility far too great for us. We are all walking contradictions seeking abstract ideals.

How daunting. Don’t people have real work to do? Yet here we all are, burdening ourselves with this insurmountable, irresponsible, selfish task.

Some of the wisest walking contradictions (in human form) throughout the ages have sort of come to a conclusion about the abstract art of being happy.

Like love, happiness is often found when you aren’t looking for it. It evolves organically. It is a lifetime collection of moments. It’s a lifetime of discovery. It’s a lifetime battle of the ego’s desires for pleasure  vs. contributing to a universally shared collective consciousness or community.


Finding the right balance of pleasure and sacrifice: therein lies the secret to happiness.

If someone asked me what happiness is, I’d say it is altruistic selfishness. (Said human would likely roll eyes and tell me I was contradicting myself. I’d nod and agree.)

I don’t believe all men are created equally in this regard. Genetics and environment shape one’s propensity for happiness as much they affect everything else.

Aside from one’s biology and brain chemistry, mountains beyond mountains of unique  experiences will determine an individual’s capacity for happiness.

Financial stability. Love and loss. Passionate pastimes. Guilt and shame. Food and wine. Right and wrong. Weaknesses and strengths. Darkness and despair. Cause and effect. Lessons learned.

It’s not a level playing field. Thus is life, though.

The abstract art of being happy is less of a perplexing dichotomy of happiness vs. unhappiness than it is a paradox of pleasure juxtaposed with purpose. It’s a constant and chaotic circle of contradictions.

We’ve all got a thin line to walk. It’s best we just keep marching forward without looking down. The truth is, we’d all be a lot happier if we stopped obsessing over it.

7 thoughts on “The Abstract Art of Being Happy

  1. You are too funny and inspirational! I love this, “Finding the right balance of pleasure and sacrifice: therein lies the secret to happiness.” This is so true. I sometimes feel guilty if I’m having fun or I feel guilty if I work too hard. It’s all about balance. You are so right! Have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – brittstepblog

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