The tho inthpiring introducthion:
EXCERPT from my book, “EXPERIMENTS IN HAPPINESS”
(to be published by St. Martin’s Press)
CLIMBING OUT OF THE SKEPTICISM
“For a civilization so fixated on achieving happiness, we seem remarkably incompetent at the task.” – The Antidote
It’s hard to tell a tale of redemptive transformation in this day and age. Maybe it’s because we’re always just one google search away from someone’s flaws, someone’s humanity. Maybe that’s because we’re taught to wear the armor of the skeptic, to wallow in negativity, to disbelieve or discount or dismiss anything earnest as “trite,” anything loving as “saccharine,” and anything that espouses the power of metaphorical rebirth as “delusional.” If we see someone engaged in a kind or altruistic act, we look underneath that for the “real motivation.”
To those who evolve their worldviews, who continue to integrate new information and to change their perspectives accordingly, we accuse them of “flip-flopping.” We whine “you’ve changed,” to a friend who starts to make new, better choices (choices that might not include hanging out with us anymore). What we are in fact saying: “You must stay the same, and you must stay stuck.” We tease people for reading self-help books, for wanting a better life for themselves. We look down on those who make personal growth a prominent part of their lives. That will never work, we insinuate with our arched eyebrows, with our judgmental tone. We say, “Good luck with that.” And we do not mean it.
If – despite our best attempts – they continue to plough forward on the path to renewal, we use the most powerful weapon of all: shame. You’re selfish, we insinuate. Searching is selfish. Focusing so much on yourself is selfish. Existential dread is something to be handled quickly, like a rash. If you really want to help people, go to Africa. Go to a soup kitchen. Go feed the homeless.
They’re trying to do something better with their lives, trying to sort out their own meaning, their own life purpose, and we tell them they’re not doing it right, they’re not doing it the way we would (not the way we are, of course – the way we would. If we had the time. And the money. And the energy. And the fearlessness.) We heap value judgments upon them like Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s no surprise everyone feels sick afterward.
If all that doesn’t work, we conjure a storm of global fear with our words. We recite depressing statistics to shut people up, to shut them down. We remind them of the “50% divorce rate,” of the recidivism inherent in people attempting to kick additions. We pummel them with stories of war and rape and homicide, the impending apocalypse or the imminent collapse of the financial systems. We send them links to articles about fallen heroes and celebrities gone awry, mothers who killed their children, men who threw acid in their wives’ faces. We bring up taxes, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, 9/11.
THIS is reality, we pound into them. THIS disgusting mess is reality. Why should you try to climb out of that? No one else has.
Except that isn’t true.
Some people have climbed out of that.
I’ve climbed out of it, and I’m here to give you a hand. Let’s get out of here, together.
Tho thmug! No doubt Grape Nehi, “Best Roommate EVER,” and “my girl” Taryn will need some help climbing out of the abyss after listening to Jess Johnson caterwauling at San Francisco’s “most exclusive” private club, The Battery.
Update: Donkey posted the tacky introduction to her OMG! St. Martin’s book over a day ago and thus far has received only four comments. Four! Jesus, I don’t have a lot of FB pals, much less 140K bought fans in the ‘stans, but I know I’d have gotten much more than the likes of Thorney blowing kisses: