I'm a happy person. I always have been, but I can't explain it. I'm not rich. I'm not famous. I'm not handsome.
Last week, I had an experience at Walmart that shed light on the origins of my happiness. I went to buy some items for an upcoming trip. Finding them, I proceeded to the checkout line. It was a very long line -- and most of the people in it were unhappy. At first I thought they were unhappy because of the line, but soon I discovered they had other reasons.
The woman in front of me was looking at the latest issue of People. She was shaking her head as she read. She seemed distressed and angry. I wanted to know why, so I asked, "Is everything okay?"
She looked at me and turned the magazine so I could see:
"Can you believe that slime Jesse James?" she said. "What a monster."
I looked at her quizzically.
"Jesse James?" I asked.
"Yes, Jesse James -- Sandra Bullock's husband. What a slime ball," she replied.
"I see," I said. "I'm sorry to hear it. Sounds like a bad situation. So, who's Sandra Bullock?"
The woman looked at me in disbelief.
"You're kidding, right?" she asked.
"Well, er, no," I replied.
"She's a movie star," she added.
"Oh, I see," I replied. "Thanks."
(The only movie I've seen is Star Wars. Hollywood went downhill after that.)
The woman looked at me curiously. She then turned around and pushed her cart forward. A few minutes later, she threw another incredulous glance my way, then focused her attention on another magazine.
As the line moved forward, I noticed that the man standing behind me was anxious and inpatient. He was pacing back and forth. I heard him emit a huge sigh. When I turned toward him, he said, "If this line doesn't move any faster, I'm gonna miss the show."
"What show?" I asked.
"LeBron James on ESPN" he said.
I didn't say anything, hoping to conceal my ignorance, but he continued: "Which team do you think he'll go with?"
"I don't know," I replied.
"I bet he goes with Cleveland," he said.
"Probably," I said.
I didn't have the guts to ask who LeBron James was. (I never watch sports. Sure, I played badminton in college, but generally I stay away from sweaty activities. When my friends talk about athletes, I later "google" their names so I don't look dumb. That's what I did with LeBron James. Turns out he plays basketball.)
Finally I made it to the front of the line. Putting my items on the counter, I looked at the clerk. She seemed upset. She was avoiding eye contact and was punching the register furiously.
"Are you all right?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm all right," she said. "It's my daughter. I wish she'd grow up. If I hear her talk about Justin Bieber one more time, I'm gonna scream."
"I'm so sorry," I said. "Is he mistreating her?"
"Mistreating who?" she asked.
"Your daughter," I replied.
"Is who mistreating her?" she continued.
"Justin," I responded.
A look of surprise came over her.
"You don't know who Justin Bieber is, do you?" she asked.
"Uh, well, no," I muttered.
"Well, it doesn't matter," she said. "There's no reason you should. You ought to be focused on LeBron James."
I grabbed my items and escaped before digging myself in any deeper.
Walking away, I thought about the unhappy people at Walmart. They all had something in common: Each of them knew something I didn't -- and what they knew was causing them distress.
That's when the epiphany hit. I had unwittingly stumbled upon the key to happiness: Happiness doesn't come from money, fame, or good looks. It doesn't come from love or genes or a positive attitude.
Happiness comes from not knowing what the hell is going on.
Ignorance truly is bliss. That's why stupid people are happier than smart people: They lack vital information.
I was a genius!
Proud of my discovery, I smiled and continued walking toward the exit. As I neared the door, I ran into the Walmart greeter.
She was an elderly lady -- and she seemed absolutely delightful. Seeing me approach, she smiled and nodded graciously. "Have a nice day," she said in a warm, affectionate voice.
Her joy was contagious.
I looked at her, continued smiling, and said, "Have a nice day, too!"
Then, entering the parking lot, I laughed -- and thought to myself: "What a sweet little old lady ..... I wonder what she doesn't know."