Believe it or not, you make the choice to be unhappy, every day.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Are you an unhappy person? Are you?

That’s not an accusation, that’s a question.

Think about it for a minute. Think about your day yesterday. Did you wake up feeling OK about stuff? Did you clear the sleep out of your eyes, heave a big “get-up” sigh and then strap on your running shoes or your bathing suit or your yoga pants? Did you go move your body around? Did you climb a tree or splash through the creek or get a chance to walk the dog around the block a time or two and admire the fall leaves?

Or did you get to sit in a car? Did you mainline caffeine while listening to someone just as angry as you turn your blood up to a low boil? Did you sit at your desk and turn your computer on, already defeated? Did it hurt when you wiped?

At lunch, did you go down to the beach and walk along the shore for 10 minutes or an hour? Did you join a group for pickup basketball at the public courts or did you sneak away from your conference call 10 minutes early to jump into your favorite spin class?

Or did you drive to go get food somewhere, anywhere. Anywhere that’s not here? Did you order a giant burrito or burger to go? Did you watch them make it and have a feeling of instant euphoria combined with sudden onset long-term regret? Did you take it back to your desk, unwrap it like a contaminated secret—and go to town?

After work did you pick up your kids and go on a quick hike behind your house with them? Did one of them spot a lizard and the other see a grove of monarchs? Did you point out the birds that are about to fly south for the winter? Did you watch the sun go down and decide it was time to go in and make dinner. Oh, but can’t we stay out another five minutes?

Or, did you get back in your car and turn on the radio? This time a different host talking about the same things with the same urgent tones. Things that are so grandiose and so far beyond your control that you can barely bear to try to process them as you crawl along in your personal fossil fueled pod pausing in the standing line long enough to glance at the one next to you. Did you see the person in it had the exact same flat-line expression as you do? Is really only a mirror? Are we all just mirrors of one another?

Did you arrive home and immediately have to stop yourself from cracking a beer or opening a bottle of wine? From lunch alone you have already taken in your necessary daily caloric intake, but somehow you’re still hungry—starving. Insatiable. There’s a frozen pizza. That should work. Maybe a salad—but the lettuce is wilted and there’s no tomato. The pizza will have to do.

When you drifted off to sleep and you thought of the day that was, did it make you excited about the day to come? Did you feel energized about the prospect waking up and seeing the sun again and greeting the morning with an adequate smile? Did you think about how lucky you are that you may have the chance to run and sweat and smile and maybe even cry? Did you feel nervous-good anticipation that you might run into someone you haven’t seen in a bit and make plans you hope may actually come true? Did you well up with excitement that you get to brush most, not all, of the sand off your feet before you get in your car, only to leave sugar-coated footprint marks on your floor mat, a reminder of where you got to go and how soon you want to go back?

Or, are your cheeks constantly flushed from a strange cocktail of angst and desire? Do you have pills on your nightstand to remind you of this? Do you have a presentation you are not prepared for, or, at the very least, not wanting to give? Are you tired of all the bad news, any news? Because there is a lot, and it’s coming at you from all directions, like an unstoppable army of a thousand black snakes—on your phone, on your computer, on your tablet, on your TV, on your radio, a 24-hour unrelenting delivery system of awful.

Do you feel that social media has disconnected you from the people you thought you once knew well? Do you always feel like you have to fart, but can’t?

Is it just too much to think about so you roll over in despair, squeeze your eyes and just hope that it doesn’t keep piling on, if even temporarily, in your slumber. Or what’s left of your slumber anyway. Your phone keeps lighting up. And then you realize, there may not be a single person left on this planet who actually wants to fuck you.

And in comes despair to spoon with you.

I know you are out there. I see your cries for help. I know there are at least 50 million of you whose only exercise is complaining and only solution is death. Now that it’s all out there, your anger, your frustration, your discomfort, your fear, manifested into your savior—a human cold sore with hair sprouting out of the top of it—I hope that gives you satisfaction.

Because I know watching the misery and discomfort of others won’t ease your own pain. And I know he won’t make you happy.

Nothing will—until you make that choice for yourself.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”.