Part 3. Finding Your Stress Balls
This is the third in my series on Happiness. If you want to catch up on
the other two, you can find them on my beBee.com blog page. https://www.bebee.com/@jim-murray
“Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.”Dale Carnegie
Way back in 1975, Canadian producer and director Norman Jewison made a movie called Rollerball, starring James Caan.
It was a sci-fi thriller about how the powers that be in this fictional world used a very violent game, not unlike Roller Derby, which was very big at the time, to give the ‘public’ a means of channeling their anger and resentment about the shitty world they had to live in.
Of course it all spun wildly out of control and a everything went to hell like it does in most sci-fi movies. But the philosophical statement it made about our culture was not lost on me.
And while I have, as previously stated, been a relatively happy guy, one of the things I realized is that regardless whether you are truly ‘happy’ or or even very happy at all, we all need some sort of release for any of the pent-up anger and frustration we might be feeling for any number of reasons.
What seeing this movie did for me was actually give me a deeper appreciation for the need to be able to vent one’s feelings or risk actually becoming depressed or worse.
I was lucky in that I had my writing which was an intellectual outlet for any anger or frustration I was feeling. But I also had some other stuff.
Back then, it was exercise. I ran a lot, at least until my knees started to feel the strain of it. I jumped rope. I had a heavy bag to punch, and a sauna to sweat and do a lot of thinking in. And, of course, I had my bike and rode everywhere as hard as I could.
But also, like the poor schlubs in the Rollerball crowds, I had pro sports.
My Unabashed Love For Football
My main sports obsession was, and probably still is, NFL football.
This game, to me, represented a weird holdover from the early Roman days of the gladiators. Big tough, strong men, clashing in battle, the captains they protected, working to advance their armies down the field, mostly due to the effort of gaps opened by the big, strong men clashing and all at the instruction of the generals on the sidelines.
Football has always been a complex game. It has always been full of heroes. It is cunning, and unpredictable and every bit as much about the intellect as it is the body.
While I admired and cheered for the physical aspects of the game, it was the intellectual side appealed to me the most.
My team, back then was the Cleveland Browns, and the amazing Jim Brown, who had an almost uncanny knack for making the best of any running situation. Years and years of doing this made him a legend, not just in his own time, but even today.
Those who are fans will tell you there is a lot in a football game to scream and yell about: great blocks, great passes, great receiver routes, great quarterback scrambling, great sacks…it is a cornucopia of intense celebration that could wear you out on a weekly basis.
And within that state of emotional exhaustion, there was, for me at least, a form of happiness. It really wasn’t about who won or lost at the end of the game. It was about how skillfully the game was played. How heroic the heroes of the game actually were. And how much you, as a fan, were able to appreciate that. And cheer them on. And in so doing release a certain amount of whatever angst you might have been lugging around.
My Thing Is Not Necessarily Your Thing
Now there are a lot of people, some good friends too, who don’t give a shit about sports. They see it as simply a waste of time. They see pro athletes, especially in baseball, basketball, soccer and football, as over-muscled and overpaid.
But for the fans (like me) who find happiness in their albeit peripheral participation, this is a very important part of what makes them happy.
To yell and scream and marvel at people doing something it took them years to get good at and to appreciate that, like it or not, the role these players play in many peoples’ lives (because they are part of the way they get their happiness fix) is not to be underestimated or demeaned.
Whatever Floats Your Boat
My wife is a big fan of figure skating, and watches a lot of it down in the family room where she does her crafts. I can always tell when she is watching it because periodically I can actually hear her applauding and shouting at the TV.
That’s her thing. Sometimes I join her in the final rounds. But when she’s there, it’s pretty much all the way.
What can I tell you is that this makes her happy. For many of the same reasons that following pro football, and all the other sports I follow, makes me happy too.
Happiness Kicker #3
“Sports is the toy department of human life”
The cold, hard pressures that our lives contain need to be counterbalanced by things that make us happy. Everyone will have different things. And finding what they are should be a priority. Because life without them is unbalanced and unhealthy.
Till next time.
Jim Murray is a writer, photographer, thinker and a bit of a
preacher. He is also a Canadian, but will never apologize for that. His company is called Onwords & Upwords.
He has published more than 1100 long format posts over the past 20 years, and never seems to get tired of writing new ones.
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