Question 3.

Anna asked:
Are you happy? Could you be happier?

The short answer: Yes, and Yes.
The full answer: Christ, we’d be here all night.
The medium-sized answer, then.

As I’ve said a few times before, mine is an essentially contradictory disposition. Not only am I able to hold two equal and opposite opinions at the same time (if one can fairly call this an ability); I can also pull off the same trick with states of mind.

Thus, on the one hand, I’m a chirpy optimist, blessed with an uncommon degree of good fortune, who can never quite believe his luck. A sunny disposition, one might say. As difficult situations always seem to turn out right in the end, I tend to proceed through life in the cheerful assumption that they always will. Dangerously delusional, you might say; prophetically self-fulfilling, I would suggest. You are the architect of your own karma, and all that.

As someone who takes little in his life for granted, I will regularly experience sudden surges of pure joy at the circumstances in which I find myself. Particularly at weekends, in the cottage, or outside in the garden – places which feel as if they have been expressly designed to deliver utter calm and contentment.

(To say nothing of the happiness of being in a long-term, settled relationship with… but, as you know, we don’t do slushy. Take it as read.)

On the other hand, there’s an anxious, self-critical, fearful streak in me, which can see the downside to most things; self-subordinating, resisting change, missing opportunities. All of my happiness is therefore underpinned by a nagging sense of under-achievement, of doubt, of feeling that all of this has been fluked rather than earnt. That I am a passenger in my own life. Could do better.

Ironically, the greatest source of stress in my ridiculously cushy life is the fact that it is almost entirely stress-free. Karma’s a bitch like that.

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