Columnist for Friday, 4/27 - Cindy

Happy Juice Theory

There are have been many words for it over the years. Purists call it "bliss", scientific types describe it as "endorphins in the bloodstream." Joy, contentment, serotonin levels, slack, inner peace, *whatever*. I just think of it as Happy Juice.

It's in your brain, and there's either a lot of it and you're Happy, or there's not enough of it any you're Not Happy. And the quality of your life is directly dependent on how much of it you've got.

Where does Happy Juice come from? It comes from all kinds of sources. It comes from doing things you like, such as sexual intercourse, or Heroin. If you like those sorts of things. And it comes from ceasing to do things you don't like, like weeding the garden or writing a doctoral dissertation on playwright Eugene O'Neill. (In fact, this is the only positive statement I think I've ever made about Eugene O'Neill. This, in itself, is causing a brief surge of Happy Juice.) Sometimes Happy Juice even comes as a side effect of activities you're not really sure if you like doing: like the "runner's high" you'll sometimes experience while exercising, or that feeling of "Oh God, I'm still alive!" while in a war zone or at Burning Man.

The cruel side of Happy Juice is that it's relative. If your brain is swimming in happy juice on Monday and has the same amount on Tuesday, Tuesday doesn't seem any better than Monday and you clearly don't have enough Happy Juice. So, in an amoral Godless universe (such as the one you're living in now), your only real prime directive is to Keep the Happy Juice Pumping.

Now, there are some different approaches to Happy Juice procurement. One is the slow-but-steady method. You gradually follow your modest dreams, over time, living a life of quiet moderation taking joy in small things. You don't experience the "highs" that come with abandoning reason and frolicking in drunken orgies, but you don't get those crashing "lows" that come from alcohol poisoning, or explaining to your Significant Other why she should probably get a blood test. The slow method is widely recommended by psychiatric counselors, religious leaders, and a variety of other people who stand to profit from your inability to ever really have fun. Don't listen to them. They suck.

Then there's the "roller coaster" approach, where you indulge yourself to excess and later pay the piper, rushing up and zooming down, taking in all the Happy Juice you can get and then burning out. This has certain advantages, like the parts where you're yelling "WOO HOO! I SHIT FUCKING GOLD!" But it has its down sides, and really, down sides are to be avoided at all costs.

So I propose a *third* option, which I call the "Tilt-o-whirl". You whack yourself out on one kind of bliss, and just as you start to realize that maybe this isn't the end-all of human existence, you switch to another kind. Then you switch to another, then another, until you forget what you found lacking in the first kind, and then you start the whole cycle all over again. For the life of me, I can't see a single thing wrong with this theory.

Except that maybe, like the ride on which it's based, it probably involves throwing up a lot.

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