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I have come to a point in my life where I believe that I have discovered the true secret to happiness. I'm not talking about the kind of happiness where you dance in the rain, leap up and click your heels or weep copiously with joy, I'm talking about a kind of peace of mind and tranquility in the face of the adversity, bad luck, and rampant stupidity that is a general condition of living on the planet every day. Adversity is a given. Some poor souls have more than others, but everyone faces it throughout their lives to one degree or another. Adversity causes worry, stress, anxiety, and all the other psychological and physiological symptoms that can kill you or land you as a guest of a mental health facility if you aren't careful. Bad luck comes in degrees just like adversity, but no matter how significant or insignificant it may be, it can generally be expected to happen more than good luck as a rule. Stupidity has the potential of creating a huge and diverse set of miseries with both short term and long term consequences. There are all kind of stupidities and while some are just rather annoying, others can be mind boggling in their scope. The worst kind, naturally, are the ones we ourselves create. We like to think that we can blame our stupidities on others or just random circumstances but that is all just a pathetic exercise in attempting to bluff ourselves and anyone in the vicinity who might have noticed how stupid we are. We can achieve some success at bluffing ourselves if we are really determined to carry on being stupid as long as possible but it rarely fools anyone else. Mostly, it just seems an awful lot like whining. Admitting we are stupid at the point that we are being stupid is often nearly impossible. It is only long after the event that we are able to confess to our stupidity with a chuckle and a shrug. Admitting that you were benightedly stupid when you were 20 is a lot easier to do when you are 40 than when you were actively involved in being stupid at the moment. “Boy, was I stupid when I was 20,” is much easier to admit than saying, “...and now that I am 40 I'm still an idiot.”
Suffering the stupidity of others is another matter altogether. First of all, it helps to have the self-awareness necessary to distinguish between someone being actively stupid and not just doing or saying something we don't like or agree with. It is human nature to think that anyone who doesn't agree with us on any given subject does so because they are just plain stupid, while we are conversely highly intelligent, discerning, and much smarter. It would be nice to think that is true, but it probably isn't. It can be argued that any time we adhere to an entrenched position of an idealogical or fanatical nature with no intention of ever considering the possibility of an opposing viewpoint we are inevitably being stupid and should probably just go home and take a long nap.
There are some kinds of stupidity that can make people just plain mean. It has all kinds of causes that are easily recognizable if you are willing to look hard enough. People get stupid with power and abuse others. People can get stupid with insecurities or a lack of self-esteem and be nasty. People can get stupid with greed, lust, envy, and all those deadly sins and be remarkably cruel and ruthless. People who are stupid with these kinds of human frailties are invariably wretched to deal with, and while I am firmly of the belief that there is a nice way to do almost anything, these people seem determined to discover the nastiest way to do absolutely everything. They can say, “good morning”, and make it sound like, “get out of my way, I can't stand you and I'm busy thinking of ways to make you miserable”. This kind of behavior makes for a lot of unhappiness and loads of discontent, which, I suppose, is the goal, and makes these people very successful in their chosen profession.
For most of my life and I suspect, in the lives of most people, this kind of thing is usually most distressing, particularly within families or relationships and in the workplace. And this brings me to my secret of happiness. It is really quite simple. I just don't care anymore. I live my life being as nice, kind, tolerant, and compassionate a human being as I can and most people seem to like me, which is nice. When someone comes along who doesn't like me for no discernible reason, I never waste any time wondering why. I assume it is something about them, not me, particularly if they are usually unpleasant to pretty much everyone. I don't complain about them or worry about what they will do or say. I barely acknowledge their existence unless I have to. Mostly, I feel kind of sorry for them or find them amusing. If Gandhi or Jesus or Buddha or kittens and babies didn't like me I might stay up nights worrying about it, but I don't lose a minute of sleep over stupid.
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