On anger, optimism and why it’s cruel to say Happy New Year to people

 An angry Robin Hood

An angry Robin Hood

B: Happy New Year.

A: Don’t say that.

B: Why?

A: It’s cruel.

B: ?

A: Let me explain. Do you remember when you told me the Doctor Fellgood tale of Wilko Johnson, Lee Brilleaux and the chips?

B:  Ah what wonderful bedtime stories I used to tell.

A: That’s right. As you recall they, allegedly, had a big fight because Lee put too much salt on his chips.

B: Indeed. So this is relevant to anything how?

A: Well Mr. Johnson got extremely angry didn’t he?

B: He certainly did

A: But why did he get so angry?

B: Not sure why he got so angry after all Lee only put too much salt on his chips.

A: After 15 years of touring.

B: At least.

A: (sigh). OK let’s go through this slowly. When was the last time you got angry?

B: Well this week I’ve been angry about people parking on double yellow lines outside schools, etc…..

A: So why did you get angry?

B: Well – it’s wrong isn’t it. I don’t park outside schools so why should anyone lese do it – and get away with it.

A: I see it’s a sense of injustice. A sense of it shouldn’t be this way.

B: yes – life is unfair and shouldn’t be this way.

A: But it is.

B: I know.

A: So tomorrow are you still going to get angry when you see the cars parked outside the school.

B: Of course

A: Why?

B: Because I always do.

A: And will it change anything?

B: No.

A: Who’s it upsetting?

B: Me.

A: Well stop doing it then. You know it’ll happen so live with it.

B: So you let people get away with anything?

A: That’s a totally different question. If you wanted to do something about the parking you would inform the council, discuss with school, etc…

B: I see. So I have to accept the situation stoically?

A: Sort of. At present you live in a magical world where no-one parks in the wrong place. Wilko Johnson lives in a world where chips are salted to perfection. Seneca would say “Get over yourself” (in Latin).

B: Super ipse adipisci

A: Probably.

B: OK. So stoicism would translate to being miserable then? “I’m only happy when it rains” and all that?

A: Not really. Essentially stoicism says that it’s …” “>irrational to want that which is not God’s will, so attune thyself with thy inner Nature and live happily”. i.e. It’s going to rain whether you like it or not so why fight god’s will – enjoy it. (probably stoics would sing “I’m happy when it rains, as well as any other metrological mischief God wants to give us”)

B: I see so Jesus and Mary Chain rather than Garbage?

A: Precisely

B: Also it doesn’t scan.

A: No it doesn’t.

B: But, back to Happy New Year.

A: So next year. What do you really know about this 2009.

B: Well,. I bet it’ll be a bit like 2008.

A: OK. And how was 2008?

B: Good bits, bad bits. Some better bits. Some worser bits.

A: Worser?

B: Worse.

A: And you know that 2009 will be similar to this, yes?

B: I guess so.

A: And you know that at times you may get angry are when you encounter things that you feel shouldn’t be?

B: Yes.

A: So if you had some sort of a reality check and accepted, truly accepted, that there will be situations that could cause you stress you could prepare for them.

B. Yes.

A: So if you could, in effect, make yourself a little less optimistic and more realistic it would help?

<B: I get it. I should wish people a Miserable New Year

A: You haven’t got it. Miserable New Year – not quite. However a more realistic output would be good. You know things are going to go wrong so accept it – plan for it – change your expectations. – Be more pessimistic.

B: I see. So I can still hope you’ll have a Happy New Year ?

A: Of course.

B: But realistically I guess it’ll be pretty much as was last year. So; ‘Try not to expect to much this year. Prepare for disappointment. Celebrate those rare good moments.’

A: You should get a job writing for Hallmark cards.

B: If I applied I probably wouldn’t get past the interview.

A: Now you’ve got it.