Looking for Happy 1


Before you read this post, I’d just like to let you know I’m okay. This one is in a bit of a different format. I wrote the main chunk of it when I was extremely stressed out and in, honestly, a dark place. I’ve left that chunk intact with minimal editing, because I think it’s more interesting when such raw emotion can be captured in the moment.


I’m unhappy. In fact, recently my unhappy thoughts turned fairly hopeless. I started to wonder what I’m living for. I’m not the kind of person who just inherently loves life. I’m not here for someone else or to make a change in the world. There are times when I feel like I’m just living to go to work and make money so I can keep on living in a never-ending pointless cycle.

But this is no way to live.

When I was younger, I probably would have told you that having a nice computer or the latest gaming console made me happy. Now I have to admit that having a nice computer and any gaming console just makes me feel like I’m stuck at home more.

Sure, I can leave, but I have all I could ever want to do at home, right? Video games, books, TV, even a Fire TV Stick so my viewing options are basically endless.

But a lot of these things, especially video games, are just ways to pass the time. They aren’t a means of happiness, but a means of escape from reality. And that can be good sometimes, but eventually you have to come back down and find yourself on planet Earth, and decide how you feel.

Material objects don’t make me happy, clearly. I’m not going to buy any more crap to keep me stuck at home, thinking I’m happy when really I’m just fooling myself by playing a game for hours and telling myself, “I’m doing this because it’s fun and it makes me happy.” I mean, sometimes that’s true. But it’s become rare.

Money doesn’t make me happy. Except, that’s only half-true. Being financially comfortable puts me at ease. Not having any debt, any overdue bills, or other large financial burdens over my head makes me feel free to worry about other things in life.

My job definitely doesn’t make me feel happy. Sure, it’s easy work most of the time and if I told you what I do you’d probably think it’s pretty rewarding. But I just feel used sometimes. I’m not going to go into any more detail on that, though. I don’t remember signing a social media policy, but better safe than sorry.

Drinking only makes me feel happy up to and slightly past the point of a buzz, especially when with other people. If I’m alone it just makes me feel worse. And then I drink more. So the overall result is net negative.

Social media often has the ironic effect of making me feel even more alone. All those people to talk to and yet it’s so easy to meet only silence. It’s like having hundreds of TV channels and nothing to watch.

Not even what I’m going to school for seems all that appealing in my head anymore.

So, I have to think, when am I happiest?

Well, first off, when I’m out of the house. I can make that change easily. Just need to walk out the door. Where I end up doesn’t really matter.

I also enjoy being around my friends, but I don’t have a lot of local friends anymore, and those few I do have aren’t always available.

I like reading and writing, obviously, but only when the book is good and when I feel like I’ve had a productive writing experience. Plus, planning, writing, and editing a story is a lot of hard work. Sometimes the work keeps me occupied, and other times it just makes me feel like a useless sham who will never make it as a writer.

So I don’t know where this leaves me. I know the things that make me feel worse and I can avoid those, but that’s often easier said than done. I really just need to make myself do things, because when I think about doing the things that make me happy, if I’m feeling a bit hopeless, I wonder what’s the point? I know I can’t just decide to be happy but I can choose how to react to things. I can choose to do something about it. That’s up to me.


Hello, again.

I don’t really like writing posts where I say I’m going to do something. It’s too easy to feel guilty when I don’t actually put in the full effort. Goes back to my whole “Announce it to the world, or don’t” thing a while back.

I’m leaving the first part of this post as-is, because, like I said, I wrote it when I was experiencing some pretty raw emotion. I tried talking to other people about it and I didn’t feel like they really understood, which is why I ended up writing out this post, because writing helps me figure things out sometimes. The first part of this is, I think, a good snapshot of how I write when I’m feeling like that. It might be subtle to most readers, but I can see the differences. In an odd way it’s kind of cool.

I wanted to follow up and say that I probably should have just gone for a run instead of writing this post. I almost always feel better after a good workout, especially after running.

A good example: I came home from work in the morning one day feeling inexplicably angry. I mean, the anger was explicable, but not the severity of it. I had a speech worked out in my head and I was ready to rant and yell and just generally make someone else feel my wrath. Instead I avoided everyone for hours, afraid of what I might say to anyone unprovoked. I read in the meantime on the couch, and actually fell asleep a couple times. But while I was awake, I was seething the whole time, and I think people could feel it when they glanced my direction.

Eventually I decided I needed to go for a run. And not just any run, but a much harder run than normal. I think I thought I could outrun my problems. I normally go about 20 minutes plus warmup and cooldown time (with intervals, I wasn’t at the point of going nonstop yet) and that day I decided to go for thirty. So forty minutes total.

It was hard, but I wouldn’t let myself turn around until my watch said I’d been out for twenty minutes. In hindsight, I think there was a somewhat self-destructive angle to it, as well. Part of me wanted to collapse out of exhaustion and either be left to die or wake up in the back of an ambulance. It wasn’t a good time for me.

By the time I walked in the door, I just wanted to apologize to everyone for how angry I was and hug them. I didn’t hug them, of course, because I was drenched with sweat, but still, I’m just illustrating the instant turnabout on my mood.

So, the answer to what makes me happy? Exercise. It’s something I need to do every day. At first, I thought I felt good when I exercised because I felt good about myself for going out and doing it. More recently I’ve realized that there must be something more scientific going on. Endorphins and all that, I suppose.


Photo by Shane Hauser on Unsplash


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.


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One thought on “Looking for Happy

  • A.S. Akkalon

    Endorphins are powerful things.

    I’m sorry about the tough times you’ve been going through. I hope things are mostly getting better from here.