I’m pretty sure I’ve been both at one point or another.
It’s hard to be both all the time. And mostly unnecessary.
I’d probably rather be happy, but I do wonder why we think there’s a split between the two.
If I look at my DVD collection, I see it’s filled with pretentious, arty nonsense. It’s all very interesting, and the majority of it is also bloody miserable. I can’t remember where I heard it, but as has been said, ‘Sadness is happiness for deep people.’
I’m a bit baffled when I want to watch something miserable. A film that makes me cry is clearly a brilliant, effective film. It’s elicited an enormous emotional reaction. It’s made me empathise with something unreal. Experience the feelings attached to something I haven’t ever experienced.
A comedy tends to make me laugh, which is a happiness thing. But I’m much more laughing at the display of something on screen. The wit of something.
Rarely is comedy bought out through empathy. I’ve heard it argued that this is because laughter is almost always at someone elses expense. It raises us above someone, either the butt of the joke, or simply those who don’t ‘get it’. There’s some sense in that, but then, laughter isn’t happiness.
Somewhere down the line, possibly with Goethe’s Young Werther, being miserable became cool. Fashionable, imitable. Then Lou Reed & Andy Warhol ganged up to make it cool and smart to wear black.
Only of course, there we’re not talking about being interesting, we’re talking about trying to be interesting. Probably pretension. It’s definitely not the same thing.
Then I guess there’s an argument that happiness is more likely to be self centred. Interesting implies that you’re managing to interest someone. There’s give and take there. Happiness may be infectious, but can just as often be irritating, if you aren’t ready for it.
But is happiness ever interesting? And does being interesting ever make you happy?
I certainly delight in good conversation. And I’ve been fascinated by more than one smile in my lifetime.
So I guess there’s something for everybody.
But you want me to choose?
Like I say, I’d rather be happy for myself, but perhaps I want to live in interesting times.
I appreciate that that’s supposed to be a curse, but at the same time, I fear the opposite. I guess you’ve got more risk of not being happy in an interesting and exciting period. But isn’t that part of the game.
That’s a hideous attitude.
Life isn’t a game. That’s the ignorance of the winners speaking.
But you can get through it easier if you remember to play.
And play is the best way to be happy whilst keeping things interesting.
Which is another cop out.
Now I’m just being unhappy and boring.
Which is probably where indecision gets you.
So whatever you do, be firm.
Illustration by Adam.