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Happiness




 

"I'm not much more than a mediocre machine of meat and instinct"


Meaning of Life

If happiness isn't the ultimate goal in life, what is?

Both strength training and poetry have taught me a lot about being happy. Happiness has something to do with understanding your place in the world, on the one hand, and aspiring to live in it well, on the other. Some call that meaning.


When I look at the world, this giant chunk of mud and metal, I see something that's wrapped in emptiness by our galaxy, which itself is wrapped up in an infinite universe. It makes me realize I'm not much more than a mediocre machine of meat and instinct. Personally, I find it hard to believe in a grandiose meaning to life. I don't think bunnies live in hats or that virginity makes gods smile. I believe meaning is something we create together, for as long as our short wick burns.


What I'm getting at is this. I believe that following the meanings we create for ourselves and our communities are mutually exclusive with being happy. Of course, the world is riddled with tragedy, conflict, compromise, etc., and this meaning is often a crooked, broken, blurry line. That said, when we focus on the things in our control, I believe there is a pathway to happiness for most of us. But it takes work.


Since this blog speaks primarily to artists, so from this point I will refer to your meaning or purpose as a craft. I will also assume your goal is to be great at the craft. I will put forward that being great at your craft is a form of living well in this world, and therefore an ingredient to happiness. Finally, I will contend that being a great artist requires adherence to a process, and that your process can be strengthened by having similar processes in other areas of life.


 

"Take yourself less seriously and take your craft more seriously"


Making Yourself Great vs. Being Great

I notice that a lot of people try to make themselves great instead of to be great. It sounds like the same thing, but the difference, subtle as it may be, is extraordinary. Trying to make yourself great makes you focus on yourself. You worry about your image, how other people perceive you, whether or not you live up to your vision of your meaning, etc. It takes focus away from the most important thing to being great, which is following the process. (More on this in a minute)


The best advice I can give anyone is to take yourself less seriously and take your craft more seriously. You are not that important. I'm not either. No one is. We're squishy ping-pong balls who cry sometimes and tumble through life in a universe where, ultimately, no one will remember.


Also, more importantly, I don't think taking yourself seriously makes anyone happy. However, being great does.


 

"Being great and being happy have a reciprocal, positive relationship"


Being Great and Being Happy

I care deeply about happiness. It's something I want for everyone, and especially for those in my community. I've said before that I see artists using their creative-identity as an excuse to live a less-happy life. There's a contrived fear that living healthily, happily and responsibly will cripple their art. I just don't buy it. For every example of an exceptional artist who lived a life of tragedy, there is an example of an artist, whether or not they had a traumatic past, who found peace and happiness in era's where they produce their best work.


I would contend that being great and being happy have a reciprocal, positive relationship. Doing the work to be great at your craft means that you are living life in the most fulfilling way relative to your position in this world, which, in my experience, makes you happy. You're in your groove. Feeling positive encourages you to stay in that groove, making you greater at your craft.


 

"Strength training has helped me refine my poetry priorities"


Take it Seriously

If being great is the thing in life that allows you to live happily, you have to be great at following the process. This means you have to take it seriously, and focus on the habits that make you improve. Personally, I organize processes by priorities.


Strength training has helped me refine my poetry priorities. I have included two graphics in this post that compare my priorities for strength and poetry. In this series of blogs, each post will juxtapose the first, second, third, etc., priority of each craft. I will talk about their placement, as well as what lessons one taught me about the other.


 

Conclusion

Above all, I encourage you to live happily. I fervently believe that taking your craft seriously, and the greatness that results, is an essential component to a good life. Taking yourself less seriously is a prerequisite to prioritizing the process of being great in your craft.


Be well,

Kory



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