So Who's Happy?

"So who's happy?"

The all-purpose enthusiasm dampener, frequently asked -- rhetorically -- by those who, having lost touch with their own passions, attempt to marginalize the concept itself. Nathaniel Branden made a career out of answering this question -- and showing others how to do the same.

Here is one of those answers:

To live successfully is to put ourselves into the world, to give objective expression to our thoughts, values, and goals. Our life is unlived precisely to the extent that this process fails to occur. *
-- Nathaniel Branden, from Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand

I interpret this to mean "Be honest about who I am, what I will and won't tolerate, and how I want to make my way in this world." It also means doing something that I consider worthwhile with my life.

Crap! What if they're right?

The naysayers, of course, have a point: true happiness, the kind that comes from living authentically, is relatively rare in our world. But it is not impossible. Is it difficult? I think so, although it does seem to come more naturally to some than others. It certainly has been a struggle for me, as it has for many others as well.

For one thing, many people in our lives buy into the self-fulfilling belief that genuine happiness is a fantasy, affecting their interactions with others. As I discuss in more detail on conflictisstupid.com, this in turn can complicate relationships, whether at work, at home, or with friends.

Even worse, we ourselves can internalize this kind of negative message, keeping it "alive" even after the original messengers are out of the picture. This has been the essence of the struggle I mentioned earlier, something I still wrestle with from time to time.

The result can be subtle but nonetheless powerful forces, internal as well as external, that can resist your efforts to be happier.

If this sounds familiar; if you or someone you care about suspect that you could be happier, the principles Nathaniel Branden and others advocate can help. I have designed thebrandentapes.com to facilitate incorporating these principles into your life with the least amount of disruption and expense possible. Here's how:

Inch by inch, life's a cinch!

Something I heard Nathaniel say many times applies here:

Mile by mile, life's a trial
Yard by yard, life is hard.
Inch by inch, life's a cinch!

Chances are you found my site because of your interest in Nathaniel Branden. And if your interest is based, at least to some extent, on curiosity about making some positive life changes, then this section may interest you. Some people are really good about just "diving in" to a new activity or goal; others, and I am certainly an example, struggle with inertia and the natural tendency to keep doing what you're doing and not doing what you're not doing.

This is why I am incorporating the "Inch by inch" approach into thebrandentapes.com and its companion site, conflictisstupid.com. The idea is to get involved, make connections with others with similar goals, and keep trying new ideas -- without breaking the bank or your existing time constraints.

Things You Can Try Without Too Much Trouble

For more detail see the resources page. Here is a brief listing:

1. Books and tapes by Nathaniel Branden. This section will include links to reviews, discussion groups, and "LiveTalk" real-time conversations based on the various topics discussed by Nathaniel Branden.

2. Forums. Discuss principles, issues involved in making life changes in the thebrandentapes.com forums. And join discussions about specific conflicts that involve many of us, along with ways to improve the situation, in the conflictisstupid.com forums.

3. Real People. If you're interested in therapy but would like to steer clear of the "mental health" system, this section can help. It is an ongoing listing of therapists, counselors, life coaches and others whose philosophies are compatible with the "personal growth" narrative. Also see Beginner's Luck: Why I'm Glad I Started with Nathaniel.

4. "LiveTalks."

5. Conflict is Stupid! As in conflictisstupid.com, the companion site to thebrandentapes.com.