How to be Happy.

Everyone wants to be happy, and to live a happy life. It’s somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, I know…but one which pretty much holds true across the board.

I mean unless you’re a homicidal maniac who enjoys other people’s pain and suffering – or a gym enthusiast vegan who enjoys the masochistic pleasure of seemingly making yourself suffer. In those cases I can’t relate at all – but those folks would probably tell you (as you strap them into a straight-jacket) that they derive pleasure from those senseless acts, and consequently are happy, or at least are making a distinct effort to attain happiness…however bizarre it may appear to us regular humanoids.

Happy, Happy GIF

So basically, I’m still right…sort of.

And while you may be less inclined to trust in a no-good bum writer like myself, you’ll probably hold more hope in my old pal, Socrates – despite the fact he didn’t ever come up with any clear-cut suggestions as to how to actually be happy. But whatever…

John are you seriously saying you’re better than Socrates? Your ego is completely off the charts, good sir.”

Well, no – I’m just pointing out that I have a bit of a method to happiness that seems to work for me – and all he ever did was ponder, and deal in vague outlines about self-examination and virtues as with most philosophers of his time. 

Hmm, he’s widely considered to have played a fundamental part in the growth of Western thinking…are you sure you’re not just jealous of his luscious beard? Because you can’t grow a proper one?”

Unfair, and mean – next question.

John you’re writing this yourself. Just stop if you’re going to be a baby about it – you’re coming across as a lunatic as it is. Also, we’re out of milk – get some next time you’re out please.”

You Talkin To Me GIF

Ahem, sorry about that. But I mean yeah, he was a smart bloke and all – so I’m not saying I wouldn’t have invited him to the pub every once in a while; he believed in the study of reason, the search of truth, and the admittance of our own ignorance, which all sounds dandy. But he had no ready answers, which I’m sure would get frustrating after the seventh or eighth pint. In fact I could imagine waiting for him to use the gents, and then darting out to another pub to find some more digestible truth there; probably revolving around sports, and a drunken take on world events. After all it’s usually the simple things, you know? And he sure did make it very hard work for people…

But the thing is happiness doesn’t have to be a cloudy pie in the sky sort of deal…in fact I think your pie should be right here, right now – with as many toppings and sauces as you please, and with no guilt over eating the last slice, ever. (Is this still just a metaphor? Way too into it!) 

Admittedly Socrates said something similar to this, when he stated we should actively pursue happiness through our actions and that it is in this exploration that we will expand our consciousness and become happier in the process…

Cool Cool Cool Cool GIF

….but as usual the most important element (the ‘how?!’) was neglected…perhaps he kept it in his beard, and only showed his closest friends…the selfish creature. But as I don’t have a beard, I will share my little pearl of wisdom in the hope that it can boost your overall happiness levels. It won’t quite have you doing a moonwalk on a rainbow (unless you mix my guidance with LSD – which you are welcome to try if you are over the age of eleven) but it should provide less misery, and a greater feeling of contentedness. 

So this is it, and it isn’t much really: 

But each and every year I try and better the last one…I try to put more into my passions, and more effort into my writing. I try to say “yes” to more opportunities, to take more trips, and to experience a wider range of what this wonderful earth has to offer. I try to keep in touch with family and old friends with more regularity, and try to tell those I love that I love them more often. Basically I try to be a better version of myself from top to bottom with every passing year…the keyword being “try”. 

Sometimes it doesn’t work out – sometimes life serves you up a poop sandwich, with an extra side of poop fries (instead of that delicious pie in the sky), but when it does you have to keep going… and keep trying. It’s as simple as that. Personally I’ve had a very difficult year so far for numerous reasons…but it has taken till now to shake myself free and remember that I need to keep up that pursuit of happiness (cheers Socrates, mate) – the future, and my subsequent happiness is in my own hands. 

Happy Hands GIF

So as you read this I am planning four different 2015 trips in four different countries…one which is a Christmas visit home (WOOOO!), I’m also editing down a new comedy video, and finally working on my dark humour novel again. I just need to send a nice email to my parents, and I’m golden!

But yeah, that’s it folks. Find the things that matter to you, the things that make you feel that warm fuzzy Teletubbies belly feeling, and then make steps to do them as often as possible. Happiness will follow. 

Whatever you do, don’t just accept misery…you deserve happiness, just the same as everyone. 

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What’s the Point? (Existential Crisis)

Life. We slave away at jobs we don’t care about, or chase dreams that only ourselves can ever truly be invested in…and for what? I mean it doesn’t really matter, any of it – apart from for selfish reasons which in their very essence are dumb and somewhat childlike; they’re all – “I WANT THIS…I WANT TO BE THIS…I WANT TO GO HERE” as we kick our feet, and throw our metaphorical toys out of the pram hoping God, fate, or the universe will cut us a break.

Begging GIF

Okay, but gimme a nice house and a few human beings who think I’m great…

But the fact is I could get ran over by a bus tomorrow – POOF! Gone. Well…not really ‘POOF’ it’s not a magic trick…there would be a lot more moaning, screaming, and guts as opposed to wizardy and showmanship, but still; there would be a brief moment and then I would be no more. People would be all sad for a bit, and then life would roll on. And in the larger scheme of the universe nothing would have happened at all! You see let’s be honest, the Moon would look the other way, the sun wouldn’t care, and Pluto wouldn’t even hear about it! The self-serving bastards…urgh…

So what’s the answer to this depressing situation? Well I’ve googled it and there isn’t a real one, so apologies in advance. Instead all we can do is black it all out with drink, drugs, and/or knitting…well actually just whatever activity it takes to provide an internal padded room that dampens the “YOUR LIFE DOES NOT MATTER AT ALL” screams that can be heard with every waking second of your existence…

Peanut Butter GIF

Actually I’ve looked for peanut butter in Korea and couldn’t find it…so there’s yet another reason to wallow in self-pity.

Anyway, I’m just joshing…sort of. Well not really, all I have said so far is sadly true – but the miserable tone is not, as there is a lot to live for. Yourself for one, and for the ones who love you, and the others who you haven’t even met yet. You can enrich each other’s pathetically bleak window of existence and make the whole horrid thing that little bit easier to bear! Great right? Don’t you just feel like moon-walking on a rainbow right now?!

Sigh. Well, maybe not, but I’m not going to let a little negativity (well, a black hole of depression if I was being honest) stop me…despite the fact I know it’s vain, utterly pointless, and that Pluto doesn’t give a shit I am going to still have my own dreams, and spend each day working towards achieving them. If for no other reason than to retain a shred of sanity at the enormity of it all…

SO TAKE THAT PLUTO! I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU EITHER! 

(Unless you grant wishes, in which case I take it all back and let’s meet for coffee sometime soon?)

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Five Reasons to be HAPPY!

Alright guys, I’m done with moping around – I’m done with the feeling sorry for yourself, kind of stuff! So I came up with five reasons that there are to be happy – this should help me, but it should also help you…or anyone else, who is a moany, groany bastard lately!

Enjoy! Oh…and if there are any more reasons – why not share them! Would love to hear ’em! 

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

How to (PRETEND TO) be a Normal Person

As you wade through the mysterious complexities of life, encountering such typical philosophical travails such as “why are we even here?”, “what is my calling?”, and “will I get caught if I burn my boss’ house down?” we can often feel alone…as if we are weird, and no one else is having these feelings on a daily basis. And the fact of the matter is – you are weird. You’re strange – odd…actually if I was to be completely honest you are probably Norman Bates level mental…but other people don’t have to know that!

Here are a few top tips that I have gleaned over my tenure as a full-time sociopath, which are sure to help you fit in and walk among the muggles undetected:

1. Nod, and smile when people are talking (even if you don’t understand what is going on):

Nod Smile GIF

You can throw in a few “ahhh I see”s for good measure – even though you don’t see anything at all. Just keep nodding, and smiling…nodding and smiling…people will tell other people you are a good listener, and ironically subsequently a great conversationalist!

2.  Say “oh my God” instead of an actual well-thought out reply:

Oh my God GID

There’s really no need for any other reply these days, not unless you want to have the possibility of saying something weird like your actual sick thoughts. Instead stick to the script…just alter the pitch and pronunciation of the “oh my God”  to suit whichever situation you may find yourself in; shock, sadness, humor, joy – whatever, whenever – you’re golden.

3. Reply with “it’s fine, don’t worry about it” when someone wrongs you terribly:

Fine GIF

Let’s get this straight – it’s definitely not fine, and you will carry around this bitterness for the rest of your life like a heavy noose around your neck…but never mind – it’s…fine. I mean you may need counselling and perhaps some form of radical electric shock treatment years from now – but until then…you’re fine…no really, you’re fine. 

4. Whistle a tune you are literally making up as you go along:

Whistle GIF

People who go around whistling are so annoying right? Just wandering about totally in their own world, without a care as to how irritating they are to the entire population of the earth…urgh! But funnily enough by masquerading as one of these rogues you can don the guise of a normal-o! (Please note you will appear normal but will have no friends and your entire family will abandon you.)

5. And finally…always shake stranger’s hands aggressively whilst repeating “I’M NORMAL, I’M NORMAL, I’M NORMAL!” in a shrill tone.

Aggressive Hand Shake GIF

This is the clincher and takes a little bit of practice – fortunately you can train for this in the comfort of your own home (toddlers, cats, and your bed-bound grandmother make for great training apparatus) – remember to truly believe yourself when you shriek “I’M NORMAL!”; after all if you don’t believe yourself, then why would other people?

~~~

And here marks the end of my knowledge on this subject – but if you enact these five simple steps you will be surely well on your way to a life of normality (and repressed feelings)…

…but anyway I’m going to leave this coffee shop now, I think my whistling is starting to anger the rest of the clientele. Good luck, and keep smiling my friends – it’ll be our little secret!

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What If? (Poem)

An old man and a young boy were both sharing a chair – one’s skin was grey with wrinkles, the other’s freckled and fair. They glanced at each other every now and again, but nothing more, nothing less…so silence sustained.

But as he sat the old man thought to himself: “What if, what if, what if? …what if I’d followed Sally from Dover’s cliffs? What would I have seen, and what would I have done? Where would I have been, and what would I have become?”

(He wrinkled his face further, and furrowed his brow – because that story had been circling for quite some time now.)

But as the young boy sat he thought to himself: “What if, what if, what if?…what if I create a rocket jet pack – and fly away with one fiery lift? What would I see, and what would I do? Where would I go? And would it work in the snow?”

(He scratched his head and thought one more time. Knowing that soon it would be real…yes, soon he would shine.)

…anyway, some minutes passed and they were still sharing that chair, one’s skin grey with wrinkles, the other’s freckled and fair. You could only hear silence but they had the same question there:

“What if, what if, what if?” – both a dream, and a nightmare.  

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Can I Retire?

At my gym* there are a whole load of elderly people…how many exactly I’m not sure – but if I was to estimate I’d say approximately three nursing home’s worth. They’re all quite nice and friendly; I nod – they nod, that sort of thing…or perhaps they say something and I reply with a middle of the road chuckle hoping whatever they said was a joke. In reality they could be saying anything and I wouldn’t have much of a clue; “please help me wipe”, “give me your blood”, “get out of here before I club you to death with this dumbbell”…but despite these possibilities I choose to believe they’re just being nice – I mean most people are most of the time, right?

*N.B. See how I just subtly slipped in that I attend a gym (as of two weeks ago)? Already patting myself on the back in a smug self-congratulatory manner, deluding myself that it’s already working wonders…give it another month and I’ll be eating left over pizza in the morning whilst lounging in stretchy pants – that I can promise. 

Pizza GIF

Anyway being with my beloved silver fox squad every morning has me dwelling on our shockingly finite life (in between sets of course!) The way time seems to fly in a very “errrr what the hell happened?! sort of way…I mean put it this way I feel it was just yesterday that my evenings revolved around riding bikes and throwing rocks at things. But that was actually last week! Crazy, ey?!

I actually recall being envious of my grandfather’s life as a kid…largely because he would rub it in my face:

“oh, what have you been up to? Just school? Sounds fun, not like my boring day; woke up, took the dog for a walk, bacon sandwich, played pool, couple of pints, watched the game, then had a massive dinner. What a terrible life, can’t stand it…wish I was at school…wish I had homework, and exams…” 

Sure ya do Granda, sure ya do. But despite the fact he was just trying to wind me up (and succeeding) – it still made me make parallels which often led to the bold announcement: “I can’t wait to be old.”

Old GIF

Just think…a kid! Wishing away his whole life! I see how misguided such an exclamation was now, but at the time I saw nothing wrong with it at all. In fact I thought the discovery was groundbreaking in some way, so much so I remember rushing to tell my own father my new found goal. He wasn’t too pleased. In fact he thought it was bloody stupid, and there may have been a slap to the back of the head in an attempt to knock some sense into my dumb skull. Well if there wasn’t there should have been. It may have helped, who knows?

Anyway it’s little flashbacks and epiphanies like this that help bring a sort of understanding to life, and with that more clarity. Because the reality is not much has changed as I still compare myself to others (“by this age this comedian was doing this…by this age he had written this…by this age she was starring in this” and so on, and so on)…

And I also still live in different time zones…by which I don’t mean Asia/UK, I mean the past and the future, dwelling on what was, and what will be rather than living in the moment that is actually happening now – the moment that I can actually touch, and can actually shape.

Clay Making GIF

But we should try to fight against limiting ways of thinking like this. 

I mean sure, days spent eating bacon sandwiches and walking the dog sounds great, and I eagerly await that don’t get me wrong – but that doesn’t mean not making the most of each and every day right nowwe can actually make things happen. So let’s at least try.

So yeah, okay I’ll lead by example, I have to go…I’m going to give blood, run a marathon, and finally finish my novel…well if not today then there’s always tomorrow…or the next day…or the next day…or the next…or…

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Existential Spices

As humans I think it’s pretty normal to ponder our own existence…although I often like to believe I am one of the elite few who is really thinking about it, that everyone else is just passing through, experiencing things at face value – and that basically I am some sort of superior brain amongst a mass of morons. This is solely a luxury for my ego, and in truth is probably only half true…

See Clearly GIF

Arghhh fine, but keep it to yourself sister!

Anyway, what’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? What are we doing? You know, all of those “what’s the fucking point of it all?!” existential crisis type questions – are ones that plague our waking days, and pester our subconscious even when sleeping, because at the heart of things we know we’re just highly intelligent (hmm, sometimes) beasts, and the real innate purpose is just that of a really dreadful commander of an alien legion – “THE RACE HAS TO CONTINUE, WE MUST PROCREATE AND CONTINUE THE BLOODLINE! THE RACE MUST GO ON!” 

So when this rather carnal impulse meets our meddlesome overactive mind we become part of an ongoing battle for self-actualization and understanding…one which basically can never be won in the traditional “yeyyyy, I got a shiny medal and certificate!” kind of way…perhaps that’s why it feels so uncomfortable…we just have to pick a side, and stick with it…that’s literally it.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?!

Well, perhaps you head to religion for your purpose? And you essentially believe this is a humongous audition/amazingly well-orchestrated dress rehearsal for the spectacular afterlife? Where you get to hang out with all of your best friends, and family members (presumably you get to pick which ones make the grade), and spend your days eating whatever you like and never gaining unwanted weight. All the while being able to pick the brains of the most clued-in individual ever to exist; the creator man himself, God!

Sounds bloody perfect! So if that’s your belief and reason for living…then yeah, good for you! I can dig it!

Lebowski GIF

Praise him with the boogie!

Or do you venture into the romantic side of things…the spirituality of love for love’s sake? You know…the life is about being happy, and making others happy sort of thing. With this seems to come an acceptance that life is a horrifyingly complex and confusing state of being – and that one should basically just make the best of it. Because yeah, why not? After all why lose sleep over the complicated nature of the day to day when you can observe such fantastical beauty in your world; from the love of those who are dear to you, the laughter of children, and the possibility to add extra cheesy bacon bits to items of your choosing and much more! There is indisputably a lot to live for, and eventually die f…shhhhh no, let’s not mention that bit…no, no…

Then there’s the idea about immortality…why work out what it is to live, when I can never die?! Now, I’m not so much talking about actually living forever…although that would be great, and if anyone has a secret potion they’ve been working on I’d be a willing patient! But no…I am speaking of self-expression, creating a legacy that will succeed you long after your death. This may be through art, scientific discovery, politics, business…whatever really. Basically anything that inflates your ego and makes you feel a little less like a minute speck of nothingness in a vast and uncaring universe…bleak I know. But it is, what it is…

Depp Sad GIF

Not a happy camper.

Yeah…and I guess the last option is to just check out altogether…but if you do that you are missing out on the potential joy and ecstasy that life can bring…as well as the harrowing lows which despite being awful, can in turn provide a deeper perspective and understanding of what it is to be alive, and what it is to be human…

I suppose, all we can do is look for ways to flavour and make the most of our life right nowafter all they say “variety is the spice of life”, and I believe it. You should seek out new passions, new friendships, new adventures, and new meaning…expand your mind, and open your heart. But errr…make sure you take it with pinch of salt, as none of us get out alive after all…* 

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~~~

Unless you have that immortality potion thing*, in which case EMAIL ME. Cheers in advance Dr. Controverso! 

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

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