A happy life is, I think, mainly about serenity, discipline, curiosity and the right kind of stimulation. Either you’re curious about stuff or you’re not, and “the right kind of stimulation” obviously means everything except drugs, alcohol and compulsive eating. Serenity has many ingredients, but I tend to define it as good enough, taking care of yourself, great theatre, soul-stirring music, nothing terrible or toxic, bills paid on time, healthy food, exercise, long walks in big cities, great cappucino, spirituality if you want it, even-keel relationships, et. al.
The problem for most people, I suspect, is that the kind of happiness they knew or at least occasionally tasted in their late teens and early 20s resulted from the riding of a special kind of spiritual wave with really close friends, good drugs, breathtaking sex, etc. This kind of life led at times to feelings of joy, ecstasy and even a form of transcendent satori, but it simply can’t be sustained when you embark on your solo journey to adulthood and have to start focusing and getting ahead and shouldering responsibilities.
Most adults aren’t fully honest when you ask them if they’re “happy”, but if they were they’d probably answer, “Well, yeah, mostly…I mean, I was truly happy at times during my sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll days but that stuff’ll kill you.”
You know what happy is? I’ll tell you what happy is. Happy is not being asked by people if you’re “happy.” My stock answer is “I was actually feeling pretty terrific until you asked me that.”
I began to feel very satisfied, if highly stressed, when the journalism thing began to pan out for me in the early ’80s. But there was always pressure, pressure and more pressure. I finally found a kind of even-keel peace and contentment (i.e., almost or occasionally “happy” without any serious potholes to speak of) after I turned to sobriety in March 2012. The only profound source of unhappiness has been Twitter hate and p.c. Stalinism.
The Happyish pilot starred the late Phillip (a.k.a., “Philly”) Seymour Hoffman. Apparently the first reaction after Hoffman’s death was to throw the series away, but then Steve Coogan came along. Wiki boilerplate: “Thom Payne (Coogan), a depressed middle-aged man, is confronted with a new, younger boss. Thom’s pursuit of happiness is seriously compromised and he finds he must content himself with feeling ‘happyish.’ ” Also: “An American dark satirical comedy-drama series created by Shalom Auslander that costars Kathryn Hahn and Bradley Whitford. Ken Kwapis helped develop the program and directed its pilot and most of the first season’s episodes.
The half-hour series premieres on Showtime on 4.26.15.