Everybody wants to be happy. And everybody has their own ways of accomplishing this.
Recently the New York Times had an interview with a Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard. When I saw that the story was called The 'World's Happiest Man' Shares His Three Rules for Life, I got excited.
Yay! Finally I'd know how to be happy all the time. Sweet. But when I read what Ricard said the three rules were, I felt my Perpetual Happiness Balloon popping.
You know, once I was on the India Today Conclave. They said, “Can you give us the three secrets of happiness?” I said: “First, there’s no secret. Second, there’s not just three points. Third, it takes a whole life, but it is the most worthy thing you can do.”
Ugh. No secret. Not just three points. Takes a whole life. Bummer.
Then I realized that while I'm far away from being the world's happiest man (I'm not even the happiest sentient being in our house, being eclipsed by my wife and dog, and likely also by the mice who live in our crawl space), I do have a secret to happiness that works for me.
Since a New York Times reporter isn't going to be beating down my door to learn what it is, I figured that I'd share it in this blog post.
Well, I already have in the title above. I ran out of space or I would have made it: Act stupid, then undo the stupidity and feel the bliss of relief.
There's no end of examples that I could offer for how I've applied this (no longer a) secret to aid in my happiness. Here's a good recent one.
Though I live just six miles from the city limits of Oregon's capital, Salem, our neighborhood's primary "broadband" provider, CenturyLink, offers a pitiful 7 Mbps via DSL that travels through ancient copper phone lines.
When Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet service came online several years ago, I was thrilled to have my application to be a beta tester of Starlink approved. That got us a decent broadband speed.
A few weeks ago Starlink sent me an email saying that because I was an early beta customer, I was entitled to send them $200 for a third-generation router that offered better features than our first-generation router.
OK, I fell for the pitch. I'm always up for a chance to improve our broadband life, especially since in the not-so-good old days of sloooooow DSL, streaming shows on Netflix often had us watching the buffering spinning ball as much as Bridgerton.
The new router arrived a few days ago. After I opened the box, I downloaded a PDF file that had the simple instructions for installing it.
I read the instructions several times. I laid out the power supply cord and the ethernet cable. Connecting the power supply was a no-brainer. But the ethernet cable had two dissimilar connectors: one long and one short.
The place on the router where one end of the ethernet cable was to be inserted was strangely deep. So deep, I got out a flashlight and looked into the depths of it. My mind thought, "That must be where the long ethernet connector goes."
I then studied the installation instructions again. Closely. Intimately. The instructions showed where the long connector of the ethernet cable was to go and where the short connector of the ethernet cable was to go.
Supremely confident that I knew what to do, I inserted the long connector into the deep recess of the router and the short connector into the normal looking hole in the power supply.
Then I expectantly waited for the flashing white light on the router to turn solid, showing that a connection with the Starlink satellites had occurred. After watching the flashing light for a while, I got concerned and reviewed the instructions again.
Which elicited a loud F*CK from me. You can easily fill in the blank.
Somehow I'd gotten the two ends of the ethernet cable in the wrong places. Yes, even though I'd read the instructions several times, paying special attention to the images of the long and short connectors of the ethernet cable.
Worse, the short connector was stuck in the power supply. The little clip used to release an ethernet cable was nowhere to be seen. Or felt. I fiddled with it for a while, but didn't want to break the connector in the power supply.
Panic started to set in. If I couldn't undo what I'd just did, our broadband speed would plummet to near zero, since we have dismal cell service out here in the not-very-wilds of six miles from the Salem city limits.
However, with the aid of a very small screwdriver, I was able to push on the clip and release the short connector of the ethernet cable. Which then fit easily into the router, just as the instructions had said. And the long connector fit easily into the power supply, just as the instructions had said.
All I can figure is that when my brain thought early on that the long connector must go into the deep recess of the router, that erroneous thought won out in an unconscious battle between it and what the instructions said.
The relief I felt when the flashing light on the router turned solid almost immediately after, duh, I'd done what the instructions said, created a jolt of happiness in me which lasted for a long time.
It's worn off now. But the good news is that it won't be long before I do something stupid again, which, when I undo my stupidity, will make me happy.
Obligatory warning for those who want to follow in my happiness footsteps: sometimes I do something stupid that can't be undone, which obviously doesn't make me happy.