“Happy?” — Facebook friend after mulling the below photo.

“I had a traumatic birth, which gives you a certain antsy outlook on things. By the time I was six or seven I was feeling very angry at God for giving me such a miserable life in suburban New Jersey, and especially for giving me such strict, hard-nosed parents, particularly a mother who made me go to church every damn Sunday.

“In my tweens and teens I went through a period of mocking and taunting Him. Then I embraced and worshipped Him as a result of my mystical LSD trips in my early 20s. Then I came to an understanding that God has nothing to do whatsoever with ‘happiness,’ however you want to define it.

“The best that can be said about God is that, depending on how lucky or unlucky you are in terms of parental or tribal lineage and birth location, He/She/It is completely impartial — indifferent — about whether you’re living a happy or miserable life. He’s “not there” (as The Zombies once sang) so it’s basically up to you.

“If you want or need ‘happiness’ and you’re not living under a horrible dictatorship, orchestrate your own version of happiness or fulfillment, being careful not to make things worse for others.” — posted on 2.3.18 under the title “God Is A Concept.”

“Real happiness is more the subtle equanimity that Aristotle described as eudimonea, than it is the steroid-filled social projections of happiness and success that we expect from others.” — HE commenter “Otto Gierke“, posted eight years ago.

“There’s a difference between a true sense of deep well-being, which still can acknowledge the darkness in the world, compared to a relentless, forced peppiness. And I think acquiring the former can be the work of a lifetime, though it seems to come more easily for some than for others.

“I think in some ways American society isn’t particularly well-geared for happiness, possibly because of the powerful influence of consumerism and its sibling marketing, the function of which is to feed a constant sense of inadequacy.

“Yet as much as I read about people on some tranquil Greek island who eat kalamata olives and have long leisurely lunches and live to be 105, I can’t quite find myself wanting that life. I like being in the show, even peripherally — in the bustle of the urban world, in the beating heart of new technological and cultural developments.” — HE commenter “blue fugue,” also posted eight years ago.