Friends Don't Understand How Man Not Depressed

tl;dr: The Onion has a great satirical video on how a low-status man is happy, and I think it is inspiring.

A YouTube video that seems to keep popping back into my mind is a 1 minute 22 second video by The Onion. The segment is satirical series of interviews with friends of Carl, a man who "doesn't have healthcare, walks dogs for a living, and no one will ever date."

One friend says that "Carl's life really sucks" but somehow he manages to wave hello to him every morning and "has a big smile on his face." Carl's sister Sharon says in the interview "Things have always been really awful for Carl, but he's never really been depressed. I mean, I make three times as much money as him and I'm totally miserable."

Now I'm sure the people behind this 2013 video knew exactly what they were doing, but it really is amazing to me the subversiveness of this piece of art. When the sister mentions that she makes three times as much money as him but is "totally miserable", it just reminds me of the mentality that I had up until recently, which was that the most important thing in life was maximizing the amount of money you have.

When the only things that bring you happiness are attached to things that you only have partial control over, like your salary or your socio-economic standing, you will inevitably find your self-worth and emotional well-being tied the the ebbs and flows of your professional life.

I love the top comments on this video because I find them to be very true. For example:

Karl is actually a genius. He’s conquered his internal fears and angers and lives a life of peace.
Carl stopped watching the news. 
Carl started going outside more often.
Carl started caring/asking about how other ppl were doing. 
Carl decided he would work to live instead of live to work- even if he wasn't the most successful or flashy person, he would still have his basic needs met and be content (food, clothes, someplace to stay). Damn. This hits hard. It shows that the people who think Karl should be depressed are the actual ones who are depressed with their state in life right now. Karl my man doesn't need external sources to find happiness, he's happy on the inside. I wanna be like Karl. The guy who doesn't compare himself to others is much happier than the people that do, and none of them see the reason. This is next-level satire. His secret: He is just genuinely content with life. Karl doesn't have any grandiose expectations of what he should receive in life, instead enjoying his existence. This is unironically the most inspirational satire I've ever seen and it scares me Nothing gets under people's skin more than seeing someone who makes significantly less money living a happier life.

I love these comments because I believe they reflect something very true, which is that happiness can only come from from within. Thinking that you will be happy once you cross some invisible finish line, like getting a promotion, or a new degree, or that sweet new car, or a hotter/richer/smarter partner will only lead to misery. Seeking external validation will only lead to insecurity because it can be stripped away from you at any time because you have no control over it. Internal validation however, you have much more control over. I found that I wasn't happy with my life even though I knew from the outside I had all of the ingredients to be happy. I simply wasn't grateful or appreciative of everything I had.

Through therapy, I was able to accept that I am limited and finite in what I can achieve and accomplish. I also began practicing gratitude by writing down 3 things I was grateful for every few days. Practicing gratitude helped me be thankful for things I normally would take for granted. I've found that once you accomplish something, your brain files that away into your past and that reality becomes your new baseline. You oftentimes forget how much time and energy went into achieving that something which you should not take for granted. The nature of striving to achieve more is that no matter what you accomplish, you will always strive to do even better than before. Constantly seeking to succeed and outdo yourself is something most Americans are taught to do from a young age. And it is a noble pursuit, however, if you only think of yourself as a vehicle for productivity and not a human being with a soul that needs nurturing, you will inevitably become miserable, depressed, and burnt out because you ignore your own humanity.

The way I measure my own success now puts much less weight on external factors like prestige, status, money. I now know that those things are certainly useful and have their place in society, focusing solely on them will destroy you. Now I only compare myself to the man I was yesterday and who I want to be tomorrow. So long as I can have the courage to be as true to myself as possible, then I believe I will be happy, no matter the circumstances. Thanks for the inspiration Carl :)

This post is Day 6 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

Zach Bellay published on

6 min, 1059 words