When I Found My Old Suicide Note, I Learned to Be Happy
At this point, you might be thinking that this is going to be another sad story. My response: c’est la vie.
Alright, that’s an adequate introduction. Let’s dive into the past.
Sunday morning, January 20th, 2019. I stir in the cocoon of warmth I made on my mattress from the night before, the undulating tones of my alarm ringing in my ears. I pull back the duvet and greet the Canadian winter, then walk across the room to turn off the shrill wake-up call. Stumbling in the dark for a minute, I unsuccessfully attempt to locate my pot on the stove. The only thing that will excite the energy in my bones on a cold morning at 5AM is my one true love in this world: hot chocolate.
I call my housemate Alexa to assist me in my search by turning open the lights, and soon after I fill the pot with water and put it on the stove. After a few notifications are dealt with, I pour the boiling water into my pink mug and sip. With my soul awakened, I sit at my desk and indulge in one of the few activities that always brings me happiness: checking the performance of my Facebook ads.
Ten minutes later, my mind focuses on the next task I had planned for the morning: writing. I open the Notes app and look for quotes I might have written down in years past to gather some inspiration. That’s when I stumble across a locked note with a fully-capitalized title. I can’t tell you what the title is, but I can tell you it wasn’t anything directly stating that it was a death note, yet the moment I saw the name again, I knew exactly what it was.
Buried underneath old grocery lists and random quotes, this note sat dormant. I open it and am prompted for the password. I get it on the first guess, even though I don’t remember what I had set it to explicitly. When I start reading, I realize that it’s addressed to my girlfriend. There’s no mention of any other person in the entire 200-word note. I can’t remember if I had shown this to her before.
As I parse my message from the past, I realize just how close I was to losing it at the time. Have you ever tried to read your old suicide note? It’s hard. I have to pause and look away from the written memory several times before I finish reading. All I keep thinking is, “Wow.” I look for the date when I finish. February 7th, 2017. I felt old. It’s only been two years?
Seeing a me from the past gives me tremendous perspective. I can’t overstate how far I have come as a human being since then – kindness, gratitude, patience, and morality weren’t even on the radar just a year ago. Right now, nobody gives a fuck, but everything has changed. And it’s all because of one of my strongest habits: thinking of myself.
I do it constantly. The only time I don’t think of myself is when I’m in the shower – I think about my girlfriend then. When I think about myself, I think about a puzzle. Except I’m not trying to solve anything, since there is no final solution, I’m just trying to set myself up for a good time. I’m optimizing for happiness.
Why? Because that’s what I want. I want to be fucking happy. Knowing yourself is so underrated. When I was a wee boy, I thought that the pain of grinding it would bring me a life that would bring me happiness. But I soon realized that playing the game for the joy of playing, instead of for a specific outcome, has way more longevity. So that’s what I tried to do. That’s why I do what I love right now, instead of committing to things I don’t like in hopes that they will bring happiness in the future.
I’ll venture a guess that what I’m about to say will probably be useful for nine and a half out of ten people who read this: inner peace is your mission. Reading that note from two years ago reaffirmed this truth that I have known for a while. Who cares what you will one day achieve if you are miserable throughout the journey? I realize now that victory does not come from achieving something, it comes from having the right configuration in your brain, now and forever. Why else is there no correlation between happiness and money, or fame, or status, or car price, or handbag brand, or house size? Because it’s all in your head. Learn that, learn how to make your mind smooth and happy, and you’ll win. You don’t need anything else.
Many people think I’m really ambitious, but I’m actually just a simple guy when you get to the core of me. All I’m doing with my life is taking what I have and using it to build my dreams. When I was younger, one of my dreams was to run my own fashion brand. Right now, that’s what I’m building. That’s it. I’m just sitting here in my small apartment alone on a Sunday morning making my dreams come true. There is no in-between step like going to design school, or planning, our pondering, or working a job that makes me unhappy while waiting for my shot at this dream: I just do it.
That’s what makes me happy: building my dreams. So that’s what I do. That’s it. That’s why I’m happy.
If something makes me unhappy these days, I suffocate the fuck out of it. I am so sick of sticking with bullshit in hopes that I will somehow be rewarded for the suffering that, as soon as I find unhappiness now, I smoke it out until it’s gone. I don’t settle with that shit. I don’t let it be. I actively try and make myself a happier person, all the time.
Serving yourself will seem selfish most of the time, especially when you talk about it, but I know what happens when I don’t look out for myself. I know what would have happened if I just let everyone else’s opinions influence my decisions, without thinking for myself. That note came very close to fulfilling it’s intended purpose a few times in previous years. I remember. And that’s what I think about every time something makes me upset even now. I know that, if left unchecked, that’s what my unhappiness becomes. That’s why I am ruthless in maintaining my own state of being.
Call it selfish if you want, I call it staying alive.
It sounds crazy, but I genuinely believe this: I view anything that does me good as a good investment. Netflix subscription? Investment. Overpriced sushi that I felt like buying when I walked past the store that one time? Investment. Forty-dollar notebook? Investment. Imported mangoes for dessert? Investment.
You see, I genuinely believe that, in the long term, I will bring so much value to the world that anything that keeps me alive is a good investment. I mean, come on, you dick faces: we’re human. You can’t work all the time. You’re not some robot that only needs to run on electricity. You have a life. You need to do something with it. You need to have fun. And that’s exactly what my Netflix, and my addiction to Apple products, and my mangoes, and my expensive notebooks do for me – the help me stay human.
Being human is necessary for my impact, because being alive is necessary for my impact. So fuck you, I will buy that new iPad even if it costs $1600. I will buy fresh Atlantic salmon even though I’m in the middle of Canada. I will buy art when some other college students can’t even afford fruit, because I’m playing the long game. That shit makes me happy, and being happy keeps me alive longer. Why should you starve yourself, skip exercise, and swallow the frog every day? Because that sacrifice is going to get you that car you want in five years and you can show your mom you’re not a loser? Fuck that. Be happy now.
Why do I write this even though I know most of you will think I’m being an egotistical asshole? Because I think we don’t think of ourselves enough.
I’m not trying to inspire selfishness, I’m trying to inspire accountability. The amount of unhappiness in the world that is caused by internal problems that people don’t know about or don’t know how to fix is staggering. Think about it: a healthy, happy person wouldn’t murder. A happy person wouldn’t trash someone across the internet just because of their gender. A healthy person wouldn’t make their kid unhappy trying to get them to conform to society’s expectations.
Self awareness leads to happiness, which leads to accountability. The best way you can start making the world a better place right now is by starting to think about yourself. Take it from someone who nearly threw away his one chance at life: fuck unhappiness. You’re going to be here for a while, so you might as well have a good time.