Prepackaged Happiness vs. Pick your own fun

Smiley face gumballs are cool--fake smiles may not be
Smiley face gumballs are cool–fake smiles may not be

As kids, almost everything we’re given has been pre-screened in some way. Regardless of whether it was our parents or some other force doing the pre-screening, we’ve always gotten our happiness in cute little doses of pre-planned joy.

Disneyland or Chuck-E-Cheese’s are great examples: everything has been planned in advance, from the paths the rides take to the entertainment options. Yet, as kids, we tend to lap that stuff up like dehydrated kittens. Then come the older years; what started out as prepacked entertainment has turned into fond memories, and we must now set out on our own paths!

And then what?

Those paths become more and more monotonous, less and less spontaneous. We begin to settle into rhythms and habits and, on the whole, seem to have real fun less often, if at all. Hey, fun is hard. But nobody’s pulled the plug on fun, they just made it harder to get. Instead of those little packages of fun, we’re now given the option of many more niche-y choices that can appeal to many more different kinds of people: disc golfing, reading, knitting, 43 hour Doctor Who marathons, etc. Our job, then, is to find out which things we like and which we don’t; and based on that, to make an informed decision on what we would like to do to pass the time.

Sound a bit like work? Aye! And in a way, that’s why happiness is so hard to come by. It’s less about having a smile and being worry-free, and more about a never-ending quest of self-definition; one where we’re always travelling along that road to find the next tidbit about our identity. So yes, you actually have to enter the fields to pick the very fruit you have to enjoy–and yes, you only have one shot (you’re never gonna get that time back)–but there’s only one way you can ever learn enough about yourself to begin enjoying something, and that’s by picking that fruit.

Bon appétit!

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