Friday, January 9, 2015

FFF: Simplify

Not really sure where I'm going with this one.

But that's the nature of a Free Form Friday, isn't it? Just me, my ramblings, dashes of philosophy, quotes from authors, and music.

As 2014 slipped into 2015, "happiness" became a buzzword. "Happiness for the year ahead." Thing is though, "happiness" is defined differently by everyone. To judge by American standards, money and sex appear to be the key factors. Not everyone shares that, however. For me, achievement is a big deal.

On New Year's Eve, the BBC posted this list of Tolstoy's recommendations for a happy life. Many point towards Shakespeare as the writer who seemed to best understand human nature. But as the jury is still out as to just who and how many had a hand in writing Shakespeare's plays, the best single writer to cite on this subject would be, for my money, Tolstoy. Just read War and Peace or especially Anna Karenina and you'll see how well Tolstoy perceived what jealousy, lust, and toxic relationships can do to someone.

Maybe that's why one of his big tips is "simplify." Henry David Thoreau made a similar cry from Walden Pond. For Tolstoy, this meant rejecting all organized religion along with drinking and smoking. He became a vegetarian and lived self-sufficiently. I believe this can be extended to our social lives.

You don't have to attend every party you're invited to. And if you're anything like me (and I know I am), you attend as few of those things as possible. I saw a meme, however, that takes this a step further. "You don't have to attend every argument you are invited to."

There are people out there who are just plain toxic to you. It's not always through any fault of their own, either. They're just being who the are, sometimes. And that just doesn't work for you.

Bleach and ammonia, when mixed together, produce an awful odor. Anyone who has accidentally cleaned a litter box with a bleach-based cleanser (guilty) can tell you that. Is the bleach evil? No. Is the ammonia of the cat urine out to kill you? Not ostensibly, but then again it is from a cat so one never knows. They just don't mix together.

I believe that the same goes for people.

Much of it depends upon your tolerance of and threshold for members of your own species. There are people who swear by social contact and advocate for a wide circle of friends (Tolstoy himself argues for it at the link, contradicting my own argument. But he was a genius so I'll let it go.) These tend to be individuals who get lonely rather easily and need the interaction to help generate energy. Interosculating or death!

Then there's me. I'm just fine without it. Yes, yes, I know. That puts me at a disadvantage, especially as a writer, but we're back to my chemical analogy again.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Cutting people loose who just aren't good for you.

Sometimes you see all the signs and you just ignore them. After all, conflict itself can be just as draining as dealing with the toxic.

You might suspect that you once you pare things down to the fundamental levels, really have nothing in common with this person. It might even be something of a mystery as to how you became acquainted in the first place and certainly why you've remained in one another's lives for as long as you have.

Why? Well, it's not the most eloquent of philosophies, but it fits in this case: "Shit happens."

It just happens. People come into your life not for any grand lesson as certain schools of thought might have you think, but just...because.

They can leave just as easily. Most of the time, it's for the better.

Here's Right Said Fred.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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