What Makes You Happy?

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What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

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John Galts Speech

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It’s been months since I’ve wrote something in this blog outside of a minor entry several weeks back ripping into the few evil hockey parents.  I think about it every day, but I just can’t bring myself to write anything.  I can’t find it.  This week, I’ve had a few people reach out to me telling me to get back to writing, that it helps them.  One person told me they dreamt about my writing, and asked if I could start again soon.  Another asked me when the next piece was coming.  Another person asked to meet with me about my experiences fighting with my life.  I had another friend tell me I need to start writing again, to save my life, and to help save his.  I have all these amazing people around me that look forward to reading goneawayboys, and that thoroughly seem to enjoy my writing, and are always applauding me for it…  Yet, I have a hard time believing in it myself, and finding that quality and that safety to it.  I just write.  It’s amazing, and humbling to know that some people find great value in reading this blog, and for those of you, I am very sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you through this blog.  I just needed some time to piece myself back together the last little while after nearly losing it.  Thank you, as always for your overwhelming support.

In the past I’ve said that I often will only write when I feel down, amidst a lull, when I need a boost.  On the flip side, I didn’t feel the need to write when things were going well.  That’s what I used to believe, anyways.  I’m coming to the realization that, that is just complete and utter bullshit.  I don’t write because I don’t want to do anything, except keep to my withdrawn self.  I don’t write because I feel like I don’t have the mental wherewithal to put anything of magnitude together. I feel tired. Weak. Exhausted. Scared. Withdrawn. Empty. Lost.  I don’t write because… because I am feeling depressed.

Why? Why am I depressed? Well, I don’t know that answer as much as I would like too.  Simple question, right? … I think I often lack the things that should create, and attribute to personal happiness.  Or maybe I haven’t made the choice to find happiness yet? I don’t know what happiness really means? Or, maybe it’s because my family has a history of mental disorders? Or, it’s just the hamster wheel running dangerously low on serotonin for the last fucking decade or so!  Simple Question… Yes, but complicated answer that I just haven’t quite figured out yet, and I don’t know that I ever will… If it were easy, I’d be able to solve this problem, because trust me when I feel like this, I don’t want too….  But, I feel like I sometimes have no control of it, I can only try to contain.

I’ve made myself believe that I only write when I need a lift, when things are going to shit.  That’s false.  I write when I am feeling better, when I have that drive, that energy, I write when I feel like I can help make a difference in not only myself, but maybe someone else.  I write when I give a shit about someone other than my own self, and their own demons.  I write when I feel like a human being.  I write when I feel.

I can’t write when I can’t seem to find myself outside of the fucking pits, when I don’t care about really anything, or anyone’s feelings other than my own, and I hardly care about my own.  I just succumb to my depression.  It’s like being back into a corner, with someone you know you can fight with a little bit of effort, but you just can’t find it in yourself… you back into the corner, and your stuck.  Out of batteries.  Out of juice. On empty.  It’s almost impossible to get out, or so it seems at times, at the worst of times.  I can’t write and be honest with you, when I am not honest with myself.  When I asked myself if I knew what things attributed to my happiness really were, to be frank… I have no idea what they are.  I drew a blank.   This blog, writing, having people read it, the reaction, the comments, the feedback, hell, the fucking pats on the back.  That’s happiness for me.  That’s it. That truly is it. Making a difference. The one thing.

“Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

 Writing in goneawayboys and posting it publicly is that joy without penalty, the achievement; it’s what happiness really is for me.  The scary part is…  The only thing that truly defines happiness for me right now is…Writing… What…  Really…

When I am feeling at my worst, I become very elusive with others, and especially to myself.  I can’t find, or come to terms with what creates happiness for myself.  I know that it is writing, but when I am feeling empty, and disengaged, I can’t find that… even though I know, if I just get off the couch and turn on some music, read something, I’ll feel inspired and I’ll write something, and in turn, I find happiness.  Even if for a moment.  When you suffer from depression, you learn to take as many moments of happiness as you absolutely can.  Because, not often can I find them.

My best friend wrote to me in an email earlier this week something I have been replaying over and over in my head… Happiness is a Choice… At first I read it, and thought, ok, Well, I cho-cho-choose to be happy! … And it was as if I waited for some animated vortex to appear in the middle of the hallway and throw me a bag with happiness inside… When that didn’t happen, I waited for the genie to pop out of my Booster Juice and graciously grant me 3 wishes.  After waiting several long hours, I realized neither of these things were going to happen, and I went to bed disagreeing with Mother.  Happiness is not a choice.  It’s subjective.  It’s fake.  I woke up, still pondering that same comment, then that led to me questioning myself of what happiness really is, what does it really mean.  In school, in all those life management, and leadership classes we were always asked what success meant, and everyone had a different answer.  But, no one ever asked the question.  What IS happiness?  By definition, it’s the quality, or state of being happy.  Ok. Great. So what does that mean, how I do just be happy.  It sounds so simple. Why can’t I find it? Why can’t we find it all the time? What am I missing here? Happy by definition is the feeling of satisfaction, pleasure and contentment.  Sounds easy, but a feeling? Is a feeling permanent? Or, is this just a temporary relief from all things negative? I want to make the choice to be happy starting now ending when I die.  Not just for the next 20 minutes.  But, what creates this feeling… Money? Family?  Friends? Materialistic things? Fancy cars? Fancy jewelry? Mansion? Strength?  Self-image? It is what your friends have? Is it what Hollywood has? Is it whatever doesn’t kill us? Is it gratitude? Is it a fucking Choice?

Intrigued by this “Happiness is a Choice” … I dug a little bit further into what happiness really means outside of these wildly simplistic and vague definitions the internet has explained to me.  I read the “John Galts Speech” an excerpt from Ayn Rands “Shrugged Atlas” (Ok, I read most of it… It’s 43 pages in size 12 font)  Ayn Rand, Or John Galt the fictional character describes happiness as coming down to the choice of being either a rational man, or an irrational man.

“Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power… Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

“The emotional state of all those irrationalists cannot be properly designated as happiness or even as pleasure: it is merely a moment’s relief from their chronic state of terror… But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.”

I often find myself looking for a time machine; I want to fast-forward my life 10 years. I said the same thing when I was 14, and I’ll bet I’ll say the same damn thing when I’m 34, and 44.  I have a very hard time finding my own acceptance, and contentment. Galts Speech depicts happiness perfectly for me, it’s not about materials, and it’s not about money.  I’m frequently thinking if I just had more money, if I just had more materials, more muscles and supermodel physiques, I could finally be happy.  I’ve convinced myself I need to be wildly successful to have my family members be proud of me, for me to accept myself, and to otherwise simply avoid being a failure.  If I could accomplish this… I would achieve my personal expectations, but these expectations are completely irrational and I know that… But, I make the choice to believe they are rational because well, it happened to that guy. You shouldn’t need cars, a big house, and fame or widespread success to achieve happiness.  It doesn’t help the people that have all those things either; they always want something more, something is always missing, something irrational.  Thus, when you are unable to achieve these irrational goals, and expectations as soon as you believe you should… It’s a temporary relief of terror, and the torture of frustration pursues.   Often times, that is all I can find.  I dwell on myself constantly, beating myself up about why I am not doing better for myself.  I’m 24 years old.  I have pretty well anything you could ever ask for, but always for me it is never enough.  It’s a trap.  I always want more.  I got a good job, I want a better one now.  I have a nice truck. I want a nicer car now. My family says they are proud of me. But, I can never believe them because I am not proud of myself.  I’ll never know if Jen is proud of me. I’ll never ever know that. Ever. Yet, I feel like I need to know that to be happy.  I’ll never know.   It’s unrealistic, It’s irrational. It’s mindless fraud and torture.  This is why I fight find consistent happiness.  I struggle to create rational goals for myself, goals that are attainable that result in joy, joy without penalty or guilt.   Writing in goneawayboys is often the one rational goal that I have for myself that I am able to achieve multiple times.  I am able to use my mind to the fullest of power, not escape from my mind for temporary relief.

This is happiness.  In order to find constant happiness for myself, I need to become more honest and rational to my self.  Going back to the very beginning of this post where I used to tell myself I’d only write when I felt like shit.  No.  I don’t write when I feel like shit because I can’t.  Otherwise, I’ll continue to be an irrational man, and be tortured by frustration, and destruction.

Mom was right; Happiness is a choice.  

“Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

A letter to the kids & the parents.

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It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.

Hello All,

Hope summer has been a treat for you all.  Mine has just concluded as of this past weekend with the kick off to another hockey season.  It’s August 12. And, I’ve already hit the 4-straight-days-on-the-ice mark.  Which, seems rather early.  Though it seems earlier each year.  However, I’m not really complaining.  It’s my choice. I absolutely love doing it. Each season is an absolute blast, thus it’s a little easier to get back to the rink August 12th.  I look forward to seeing some returning faces to the herd, and some new faces eager to make the squad and become apart of it.

The next 6 weeks are the toughest for us coaches as we spend hours upon hours at the arena, followed by hours upon hours at a table somewhere, sometimes at an arena, sometimes (If I am lucky) at a pub, and we try to get it right.  Then, we hit the sheets, only to wake up do our 9-5 and do it all over again.  For 6 weeks. But, we absolutely love it.  Though It’s taxing & exhausting, it does not compare to the pressures that these young men face. 13 & 14 years old.  160+ kids try out for our association, with our team being the pinnacle group.  For the first week, teams will scrimmage against one another, alternating opponents each night.  Easy? Sure. Queue, about 15 of us in the stands whispering to each other, and writing on our clipboards, making note of each and every play, and player.  Not so easy anymore for these kids.  We take 19 of that 160+. 19. That’s just over 10% of kids trying out will actually make the top team. And, that only then becomes step one.

It’s tough.  These kids are 14, and their entire year as a 14 year old basically goes into the arduous month long process of making “the team”.  There’s parents, There’s coaches, there’s friends, teammates, there’s teachers. All pressuring the players to DO BETTER!  That’s not all either, even at 14, there can be prospective agents (most of whom are complete rats), but oh there are scouts, junior coaches, bloggers, other parents especially whom love to have an opinion on a grade 9 student regarding his ability to save the day, and more importantly the city. “THIS kid WILL be the next 99. HE WILL.” “ARE YOU NUTS – YOU MUST BE HIS DAD CAUSE HE SUCKS!” …He’s umm 14 you guys…

He’s still learning the history of his very own country in social, then he’s just beginning algebra after he wakes up from that class.  Not to be outdone by the English teacher down the hall, whom is chomping at the bit with piles of “The Hounds of The Baskervilles” homework.  Then we go home and beg our parents to help us with all this surmounting work, and maybe do a book report or two because I have practice. And I HAVE to make the team.  How can I have time for all this homework?  I have hockey.

As part coaches who are fortunate enough to lead these fine young men at such a level, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that family & school are always, absolutely always the first and foremost important thing when it comes to a young adults life.  Hockey is third. Regardless of the team you play on, or you want to play on.  And, if there is a coach out there who says otherwise, I want you to eat the grill of my F150, cause you deserve that and nothing less.   But, anyway, best of luck trying to tell these young men this.  You can tell them? But, realistically, how can you expect them to understand this right now?  They have more weight on their shoulders from their peers and surroundings then anyone else I know.  And, they’re just 14.

It’s not just bantam hockey players, I am sure this argument could be made for many different fields or sports just change the game and age if you please.  But, this is the world I see every day.

The pressures that are on these young men and women is terrorizing, utterly damaging.  It is no wonder the rate of depression & suicide continues to skyrocket in younger people, and continues to climb as one of the leading causes of death.  How can any kid be happy, or satisfied when expectations of them are absolutely unrealistic before their life has really even begun? When they’re constantly failing the readers, the dads, and the moms.  So ya didn’t make the AAA team? Or lead the league? So ya didn’t earn top student honors? So ya didn’t win the little league world series as clean up batter and pitch 7 straight like Dad told ya to do? So fucking what. What next? Your life is over? You’re a complete failure? You let dad down, you let mom down?  Fuck off. You’re a kid.  Do you know that just because you didn’t make the AAA team, or that you weren’t top student that you won’t earn a phD? Or be ridicously wealthy, or better yet happy because you created some kind of change that made this shitty place a better one? Do you know that these outcomes and more of the like are impossible, because at 14 you didn’t achieve a goal that someone wanted for you more then you wanted yourself?

No. Not likely kid.

Some of the best players I have ever had the opportunity to coach weren’t necessarily the most skilled, or talented ones.  But, they were the best kids. They were the best people. They smiled every day. They had fun. Sure, they had ups and downs, hell,  they went through life, life outside of the hours of practice in a week, but they had fun, they learned. It’s amazing how truly mature some of these young athletes can be, some 14 year olds seem like they’re 44 for fucksakes! These are the type of people you know that will succeed in life, whether it is at hockey, or whether it is at something entirely separate but you just know they’re on the right path heading for complete greatness.   As for par with the handful of these kids I’ve come across, you see it in their parents.  Their parents aren’t the ones attacking others in the blogs, they aren’t cohorting with the GM of the Saginaw Ice Queens every intermission lathering him with a Double Thai Chi fucking Latte in a double cup with a warm sleeve so Steve & Andy don’t burn a hole in their newly purchased designer leather mitts.  No. They watch their kids do what they love to do. Play. And, the only reason the kid loves to do that…. Is cause the parents let him just play.

So, my words to all trying to achieve a goal of making a team this season whether it be ours, or whether it be elsewhere.

Control what you can control. You can control your work ethic.  You can control your attitude. You can control your body language. You, unfortunately have absolutely no control about what us coaches talk about in the war room. You, unfortunately, unlikely have any control over your parents.  But, above all, you can control if you’re having fun or not.  If you’re not having fun, and you’re only doing it cause Dad wants you to.  Tell him to fuck off & stop.  You have way too much future ahead of you to waste time doing something you don’t want, something that doesn’t bring you happiness.  Control what you can gentleman, and enjoy it.  It’s a tough 6 weeks trying out for teams.  But, I can guarantee if you do not have fun throughout the process. You won’t be apart of the outcome you’re hoping for. Do it for you & no one else. It’s your life. Smile. It’s hockey.

It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.