02.03.2011 – Am I Happy?
This is a tough question.
At least, it’s a tough question for me personally. What I do know for sure is that I’m a TON more happy now than I ever was as believer. I can look at happiness as an average. Am I bouncing off the walls every day with joy? Of course not! I’d find myself in a padded cell wearing a nice new jacket with sleeves that tie in the back if I was. Am I completely miserable every day? Same answer as above. Over the last few years, however, I think that I’ve found that the average ‘level of happiness’ that I feel has increased steadily. There are lots of reasons that I can attribute this change too, but for the sake of keeping with the general topic of this blog, I’ll stick to the religious reasons.
I can remember with vivid detail the day that I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist. (It was after a long period of teeter-tottering back and forth on the topic due to the fear of the stigma associated with that moniker.) I’ve told this to several people since then: the feeling was that of a thousand pounds of weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like all the irrational guilt that I had been carrying around with me for years had finally rolled away. I was finally able to look at myself and the world objectively and determine that things are not nearly as dire as I was made to believe. I don’t have to fear infinite punishment for finite crimes. I don’t have to worry that my lifestyle (and the life I wanted to live) was in some way counter to the rules of some dictator in the sky. I don’t have to live according to a rule book that is so self-contradictory that my mind couldn’t make sense of it.
The result? A nearly immediate sense of happiness. Some of that initial ‘thrill’ so to speak, has of course subsided. But the over-all sense that life is much more worth living now continues to be tangible. I now find value in THIS life. I find value in the NOW! Not in aspirations of an eternal existence that not a single person in the world has a drop of evidence for. Why waste even a second of our time here worrying about a 2nd life? Every minute is valuable, because we don’t get that minute back. This outlook is not perfect, and it takes a conscious effort every single day for me to keep it in perspective. I fail OFTEN, but the trend, I believe is in the right direction.