What is happiness? No, really. Can it be defined? When I was a youth, happiness was playing with my Lego, and then my Nintendo. Before the callous franchising of the old Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes, I was happy to leave Old Trafford with a draw, and then ecstatic when we knocked the Red Devils out of the F.A. Cup in 1997. I was happy when AFC Wimbledon gained promotion to the football league in 2011. I was also happy to see Damon Hill win the Formula 1 Drivers World Championship in 1996, as I was for Jenson Button in 2009. I was happy when I passed my driving test 10 years ago, happy when Gordon Brown lost the last general election and happy the day that my Dad got rid of that awful British Leyland monstrosity; the Austin Maestro .
These are all circumstances, one off events that made me happy. They happen, make me joyful, fade away, and then I’m back to reality. It begs the question, is happiness a long term thing and can it be achieved? I am forever hearing and reading about people who yearn for happiness, “I just want to be happy” they chant as they sink another cocktail and put their head in their hands. Well, what’s stopping you being happy? Seriously what will it take?
The first step is to slap yourself repeatedly and vigorously. If you start bleeding from the cheeks then you have gone too far. So slap in moderation. You must drill it into yourself that you will never be happy if you keep telling everyone that you want to be happy. This is pointless. In the time you spent rambling on about what you do and do not want, you could have taken some affirmative action to find some of this elation that so eludes you.
Well, as luck would have it, I am here today to let you all in on a big secret…are you sitting down? Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey. I know that scores quite highly on the blog-o-vomit scale but its true. If you are sitting around waiting to shit a golden egg then you are going to be grey and old before you realise that your life has whizzed past in a whirlwind of chance and missed opportunities. Happiness is not so much a choice but a perception. You may not be happy about going to the same pub with the same people all the time, but for someone else that may be their idea of heaven. You can’t pretend to be happy when you’re not. You have to do whatever it takes since only you can make the changes, if not directly, then you have the power to manipulate circumstance in your favour.
So where does the UAE fit in to all of this? Well when I first moved over here many moons ago I was a little scared. It’s a strange place to get used to and I was primarily focussed on my work. I plodded along for quite some time, then had a breakdown, then recovered, I was never unhappy, but nor was I overly happy either…I was just normal, mildly warm somewhere in the middle. I was a bit lonely yes, but not unhappy.
You see, the UAE is a curious place that receives very mixed reviews. Some people – like me (despite how I come across on this web-page) – love it. Some people give it a far more negative appraisal and in all fairness their perception can be justified. The UAE offers a lot to expatriates like you and I, but, and I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say this, sometimes you can’t help but feel that everything you do is a legal faux pas. Drinking a beer, holding hands, running nude along Sheikh Zayed Road, you always feel that you could get into trouble. And it’s this kind of attitude that can hinder the whole happiness matter and put people off taking a shot, or even coming here to begin with. Think what these missers are potentially missing out on.
It’s these negative perceptions – spearheaded by Rupert Murdoch and his mindlessly immoral empire – that drive people away. Had I believed all I had heard and read about the UAE without having seen it for myself then I would never have come here in the first place. And that is scary. Scary because had I not taken a gamble and boarded that Etihad Airways flight in 2008 then I would not have met a very special someone last summer. I therefore would not have been able to start my journey through – not to – happiness, and this journey makes me very happy indeed. Who would have thought I would find the route through happiness in a pretend English Pub in a small town called Al Ain on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula? The Lord does indeed work in very mysterious ways.
So, to conclude today’s dispatch, I would like to formally announce the engagement of Miss. Melanie Croxon and Mr. Martin Fullard. Happy now, happy forever, and no Austin Princesses…