children have joy. wide-eyed, incredulous, awe-struck joy. and they are fascinated.
when i watch my nieces and nephews play, i’m often struck by this uninhibited joy they display. they could be chasing each other around with a little broken tree branch, and exhibit such wild exuberance. of themselves. of life.
with pool, i’m lucky to still have that wide-eyed amazement when i see a great shot or a great player. i don’t know why i’d become so awe-struck that i’d stare like some dumb kid with his mouth hanging open, but i do. i secretly think that this has kept my fascination going with the game of pool.
don’t get me wrong; i’m not some crazy idealist locked up in an ivory tower somewhere beyond the sky. i realize how gritty and menacing the world of pool can become, especially if you’re a hustler who depends on a win just to score some bread & a place for some shut-eye. but there is joy in pool, if you know where to find it.
lately i’ve been reading a book by dennis prager, who i think is probably one of the wisest man in the US today. he’s no scientist or philosopher. he doesn’t profess to be a doctor or a head shrinker. he’s a practicing jew, but he’s not a rabbi in a synagogue. but prager, i think, is profoundly wise. his book, Happiness Is a Serious Problem, has provided some invaluable insights for me as of late. i mentioned in a previous post that i don’t typically recommend self-help books; the thing i like about prager’s book is that he doesn’t present his book as some scientific breakthrough or the last word on the topic. he merely presents his view on happiness then lets you to make up your mind. and he discussed many things that i’ve only vaguely felt in my brain but never put words to them.
basically, you have to be happy. not trying to be happy or do happy things. you have to be happy. your activities are driven by your happiness, not the other way around. yes, happiness is a mental attitude and goal, much like your work goals or relationship goals you set for yourself. when you’ve set your mind on happiness, you can then drive other activities with happiness in mind.
please don’t mistake happiness with a pleasant exterior. being happy doesn’t mean you need a huge grin on your face 24/7; it simply means you are very grateful with what you have, and you’re at peace with things you don’t have or can’t have. if you realize that fact you won’t think you need a cuter girlfriend, a prettier wife/more handsome husband, bigger car, snazzier boat, grander house, or smarter kids, because they won’t make you happier than you already are. this doesn’t mean you can’t work harder to gain greater professional/financial/relationship success, but you won’t feel unsatisfied while you’re in pursuit.
i’ve a friend that once commented that i was the happiest person he knew. i wished i had read prager’s book back then. i was (and am) happy not because of any particular thing i did, but because i want to be happy. i realized years ago that i have to decide to be happy, not waiting for that magical moment to change my life to one of happiness. (i was quite unhappy at that point in life.) there is nothing or no one that can make you happy; people and things can add to your happiness only if you’re already happy. conversely, people and things can add to your misery if you’re already unhappy.
so be happy. then do things that’ll fulfill your soul. love your wife/husband more. be more helpful. be more grateful. be kinder and more courteous. be more decent toward others. and i dare you to come back and tell me you don’t enjoy the game more.
here’s my new year’s wish then, two months past due. i wish that whoever reads my blog becomes a little happier in the process. it’s a lofty goal with no way to measure its success, but i wish it anyway. so pick up prager’s book and read for yourselves, or visit the library if you’re low on funds.
thank you for reading this post. i’m ever grateful to have this venue to express my views, and more so to have people reading this blog, out of perhaps a million others. best of happiness to you. and enjoy your year.