Happy in the Meantime…
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Another pop-punk song title from a little-known band I found out about from a cartoon…
This one is special. This one is for someone. This one means something!
I’ve just got back from the second leg of the ‘Breaking the Stigma’ tour with Squire Patton Boggs as part of their Inclusive Law work on demystifying mental health and supporting their teams and their clients.
This one goes out to the person who asked if they could just sit and chat with me after a talk. This one goes out to the person who needed to leave when I started talking about suicide. This one goes out to the person crying at the back of the room, who then came in at the end just to hug me.
This one goes out to the person who left me an anonymous note that made it all real.
This one’s for you.
Breaking the Stigma has changed a lot since the first time I gave it. The messages are clearer. The humour is more defined. The memes are…well…they’re still just memes.
One of the key points is as follows:
Whilst working, whilst living even, I had always told myself that I’d be happy in the future. I was waiting for the weekend, counting days until a holiday, waiting for a promotion or whatever next big shiny thing was on the horizon. I dreamed of the future; a time of retirement and enjoyment. I’d make it some day and when I did, that’s when I’d be happy.
I believe a lot of us do this.
What happened as I approached my ‘almost end’ is that the future I dreamed of, the one where all my happiness was placed, was shattered and lost.
My happiness was gone.
My everything was gone.
My depression took over and became my everything. I won’t dive into that story here. It’s told in ‘Breaking the Stigma’ and will be told once again in ‘Life is a Four-Letter Word’. I’ll keep telling it as long as it continues to help people. An honest promise to everyone reading this.
What I had done is what apply business principles to life.
I had started considering my Net Present Value of Happiness.
There are no happiness banks. Happiness bonds exist. I can’t put my happiness in a bank and accrue interest over time to deliver me greater happiness in the future. In a world like this, Net Present Value starts to look a lot like a Payback model. If I generate 100 net happiness at some point in the future, then however many years up until that point I could have net ‘negative happiness’ (sadness) and as long as the total of all that net sadness summed up to less than 100, it was worth it.
However, like with everything, I was forgetting something.
I could get hit by a bus.
We are not Sith. We do not deal in absolutes. We live in a world of risk and uncertainty.
To account for this, we must consider the Expected Net Present Value of Happiness. Don’t worry, no Black Scholes model here, although I’m sure it could be used if you wanted!
Fundamentally, probability applies!
All I was doing by delaying my happiness, by putting it in the future rather than today, was adding risk. However minor the probability of a bus hitting might be, it could happen. The expected value of future happiness decreases.
What is much more valuable is happiness in the present. If you are happy now, you feel it now, you live it now! P(Bus) still exists! You could still get hit by one!
But at least your days are happy.
By all means; reach for the stars! Fly closer to the sun!
Have dreams and ambitions that could change your life and the lives around you!
But find your happiness in the present also. Whether that happiness is in the beauty of nature, in your friends, in your family, or even just from watching true crime documentaries. Whatever. Find and grab hold of your happiness in the present.
Because we all deserve to be…
…Happy in the Meantime.
just another guy