How To Be Happy: Love Your Own Damn Problems

A Simple And Underrated Path to Gratitude

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

A friend of mine has been in a wheelchair his entire life.

When he was in school, a couple boys threatened to roll him down a flight of steps.

Just to be assholes.

Another time, his adult diapers were taken from his book bag in a classroom full of students and tossed on the floor. Tons of laughter.

That was to humiliate him in front of his peers.

The worst bullying I ever received in school was being called “lunchmeat,” “fat ass” and a truckload of other names that any hefty-since-childhood person can relate to.

I hated that shit.

But when I heard what my friend went through during his school years, my mind shifted.

I love my fat ass problems.

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” — Regina Brett

You wanna know the quickest way to becoming happy? It ain’t being rich, famous or physically beautiful.

Happiness is achieved when we quit our damn complaining and jealousy of others — and realize that we’re lucky as hell to have our own problems.

If you are over the age of 10, and you don’t understand that problems are as much a part of life as sneezing and blinking, you’re a fucking Martian.

I’m not sure why it seems to take disaster to happen for us to realize how lucky we were before the shit hit the fan. I learned eons ago that complaining about what we don’t have is bad business because what we do have could be snatched from us any minute.

Another friend of mine, a man who I have known since we were infants, has endured a year so bad that I wouldn’t wish this shit on R.Kelly if I were the father of a 14-year old black girl.

He’s lost his mom to cancer, and his wife to a bitter separation. Now he’s left with their two very hurt teenage daughters, financial ruin, tons of legal bills and a truckload of heartbreak.

I love my damn problems.

Michael J. Fox, one of my all time favorite actors, has been living with Parkinson’s Disease since 1991. In other words, half his life. In his new book, No Time Like The Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, he paints an unvarnished picture of his life and the numerous ways that PD continues to be “the gift that keeps on taking.”

Fox has always been incredibly humble and full of gratitude publicly for the blessings which he still has. But as I consumed his brutally honest depictions of his own major surgeries and nuanced emotions, I felt profound sadness.

He is a beloved actor; the star of numerous film and television roles (most famously, the Back to the Future trilogy, and popular sitcoms Family Ties and Spin City), while also being a married man of over 30 years. He is a wealthy celebrity and a proud dad of four adults.

I do not want his life.

I love my problems.

We have this weird assumption that rich people are better off than us. While it’s definitely true that they have certain freedoms and advantages because of money, they are far from impervious to hurt, pain, suffering or tragedy. Look no further than Kobe Bryant and the beautiful family that he left behind.

His wife is filthy rich and will only get richer because of his investments. I still would never want her problems.

I love my own.

Happiness is more of a decision than we might even realize. Look, I’m not dumb. I know that our issues and problems still matter to us, no matter how much “smaller” they are compared to other people’s.

I am only suggesting that we gain a real sense of perspective and an understanding that shit can always be a whole lot worse. And yes, they can be a lot better too — but that’s not really how the world works. Usually, there’s something that we could do to make shit better.

But more than anything, let’s just enjoy what we actually have while it lasts. That’s happiness that we actually own, not wish for.

*Having trouble believing in yourself? Grab the “Supercharge Your Confidence in 6 Simple Steps” checklist.

Personal Development Writer | Deante Unlimited podcast, Host | Deante: Under Construction web series, Star | Deante Young Enterprises, Chief Creative Architect

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