When you’re miserable, it’s easy to tell. You wake up hungover most mornings (despite swearing you’d dial it down the previous a.m.), you lash out at everybody (friends, strangers at the bar, your fellow internet comment trolls), you always fantasize about “what if…?” scenarios (because reality’s all wrong), and you stop practicing basic hygiene (take a shower, dude, you smell like ass).
When you’re content, though, it’s more difficult to gauge — or even notice — because guys don’t tend to exhibit signs of euphoria. If you’re leaping to and fro, hugging every human in sight because life is beautiful and each moment is precious, that’s probably just the Molly you took 30 minutes ago kicking in.
And yet, there are certain moments when you realize you’ve moved a mental roadblock out of your way. There’s no whooping it up in ecstatic celebration; you’ll simply feel the placid satisfaction of being on an even keel. That’s real happiness, bud, and here are some epiphanies that’ll foster it…
1. “Holy Sh*t, I’m Over My Daddy Issues”
Whatever the reason — youthful rebellion, midlife crisis, a plain old raging Oedipus complex — a lot of guys have serious problems with their fathers. From your perspective, he’s an OCD control freak who refuses to treat you like your own man; from his perspective, you’re an ungrateful punk who knows nothing about the real world.
As time goes on, though, and you no longer economically suckle from Dad’s man-teat, you’ll begin to understand where he was coming from: Turning the lights off when you leave a room does cut the utilities bill; you can’t wear a t-shirt to a job interview; you shouldn’t post pics of your bong on Instagram.
But you know what’s really going to fix your father-son relationship, if anything can? Learning that he’s mortal. Your old man’s getting older, and one health scare is enough to put all your petty bickering in the past. He won’t seem like a power-hungry tyrant anymore; he’ll just be a guy you’re glad to still have around. A guy who’s likewise glad to see you finally becoming your own man.
2. ‘Holy Sh*t, There Is No ‘Perfect 10′”
That doesn’t mean beautiful, awesome women don’t exist; it means human beings — including yourself — have flaws, whether they’re physical or otherwise, and you’ll be forever alone if you hold real people to an unblemished ideal in your head. Ain’t nobody perfect but Jesus…and maybe Patrick Stewart.
But you can meet a girl who’s perfect for you – who’s strong in the ways you’re weak, whose frailties you can’t help but love, and who tolerates your awful singing voice. And yeah, she’ll be hot, if your standards aren’t “Kate Upton or bust.” (Or even just “Kate Upton’s bust,” come to think of it, and we might.)
3. “Holy Sh*t, I Behave In Patterns”
You get blackout wasted and take your pants off at party after party; every relationship you have — all with girlfriends of a specific, mismatched personality type — disintegrates with the exact same arguments; you’re in debt no matter how much money you make; whatever city you move to, however far you travel, you can’t seem to run away from your own homegrown tendencies.
It’s tough to admit, but you’re on autopilot. We all have behavioral GPS coordinates from our biology and upbringing that keep dropping us off at familiar destinations, and they’re buried so deep in our subconscious we don’t even comprehend how familiar those destinations are. In a weird way, you can’t exercise free will until you recognize how you can’t exercise free will.
In other words, if you’re known around town as “that weirdo who takes his pants off at every party,” maybe don’t do it anymore?!
4. “Holy Sh*t, People I Envy Are MORE Envious”
Guys are super competitive. When we’re younger, we want to outrun our peers; as we creak into decrepitude, we want to outspend them. But let’s skip the “money doesn’t buy happiness” lecture, because A) you already know that, B) it’s preachy as hell, and C) money is f*cking SPECTACULAR. Monks who take a vow of poverty are cool and all, but for most of us, it’s impossible to be happy without enough cash for our basic needs and some cool gadgets on top.
The problem is defining what your needs are. Right out of college, you’re happy to own a broken futon and a wholesale crate of ramen. A decade later, your friends are living in nice-ass homes with nice-ass furnishings, driving nice-ass cars, drinking nice-ass wine and having sex with people who have nice asses.
You will feel incredible pressure to keep up, but your rich friends aren’t comparing themselves to you; they’re comparing themselves to their even richer friends, who hang original commissioned artwork instead of limited edition prints and spend the winter in St. Barts instead of St. Lucia. If you develop your own sense of how much is enough (with anything extra just gravy), you’ll feel #blessed while your privileged pals feel they’re barely making minimum wage.
Maybe it’s time to replace that futon, though.
5. “Holy Sh*t, Only I Can Make Me Happy”
A hookup won’t solve all your problems. A girlfriend won’t solve ’em (that’s not her job), and neither will a TV show, try as it might. You first need to figure out who the hell you are, what you want out of life and your plan of attack to make it happen; no other person can define it for you. That means blazing your own damn path and measuring yourself by your own yardstick, not anybody else’s.
You do you. Because the true essence of Guy Code is living by your code.