I was in my favorite pub, on my favorite green padded stool, at the end of the bar. The bartender started calling my position, Dave’s Corner, probably because I do a lot of philosophizing from that stool.
I was enjoying my cold stein of beer, when a fella with a grumpy expression on his face, jumped onto the stool next to me.
“Bartender, give me a G and T on ice, and make it a double!”
“That sounds ominous,” I said, thinking I might be able to help this chap.
“I’m very unhappy, my life is falling apart and to make matters worse, I’ve forgotten my mantra!”
“Yes, you know, the words or phrase that you repeat to yourself to help you cope with life.”
“Oh, I see, well, tell me what would make you happy?”
“I need a job that I enjoy with more money. I want to get along better with my wife. I need to lose weight, all kinds of things,” he mumbled.
“That’s quite a list. You don’t feel too good about life, do you?”
He ordered another double G and T.
“No, I don’t, life is full of loneliness and misery, suffering and unhappiness, and then, it’s all over very quickly.”
I tried to hold back my laughter, this guy was something else!
“It will surprise you to know that research shows that only 10% of people’s unhappiness is due to the conditions of their lives.”
“I don’t believe that,” he growled.
“Okay, let’s break it down. 10% of unhappiness due to your circumstances. Now we have 90% left. 50% you can’t do much about. It’s your genetic make-up, which is inherited. Everyone has a genetic baseline of happiness. No matter what happens, we usually return to this baseline. If the baseline is high, good for you. But, if it is low, it means we have to work harder at obtaining happiness.”
“Oh, that’s just great, everything is going against me and now I have to work harder!”
“The final 40% of happiness is due to our behavior. We need to be future oriented to a degree, that’s the way life is, you need to plan. But, also, you need intrinsic goals, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, things that give you a basic feeling of contentment and well-being.”
My barstool mate had a quizzical look on his face.
“Someone told me the other day, I was lucky to be miserable! Because life is divided into “The Horrible” and “The Miserable”. The horrible are the terminal cases, blind and deaf people, the crippled and people with dementia who are losing their personalities. How they get through life amazes me. The miserable is everyone else! That’s why I need a mantra!”
“All you need, my friend, is to understand that daily happiness and well-being depends on how we approach life, how we respond to what life brings us. We need a positive attitude.”
A look of contentment passed over his face as he jumped off the stool and said:
“Hey, I’ve remembered my mantra.”
“What is it?”
“IT COULD BE WORSE!”