Since I dropped a Poutine related theory on y’all a few weeks back, I thought I would drop another one on you based on my current mindset. To be honest, I have been pretty happy about things of late … and by saying “about things” I mean only some of the things out there, cause there is a bunch of things I am miserable about too. It’s a different feeling of sorts for me, because – quite simply – most of the last eighteen months haven’t gone my way too often.
The thing about happiness is that sometimes you only need a part of your world to go right, and it can be like the whole of the world is brighter because of it. Yet the funny thing is that sometimes you need to remind yourself that one good thing might not outweigh it all.
That’s where the “Milhouse Moment” theory comes from.
Milhouse is a character from the show “The Simpsons” – he’s Bart Simpson’s best friend known for being nerdy with thick glasses on all the time. He may look smart, but he is only really brighter than Bart in comparison (in the same way a quarter makes you more richer than if you had two dimes and four pennies). In one episode dating back to 1999, Homer Simpson decided to flood the whole city for a work of art. In those Simpson moments that are so brilliant, they showed different residents dealing with the situation. Milhouse, standing in his room was upset he had on ‘Flood Pants’ – those pants kids have grown out of to the point that they are well above their ankles. The specific quote goes:
Milhouse Van Houten: I hate these flood pants.
[opens door and water comes in up to his ankles]
Milhouse Van Houten: Hey, they’re working! My feet are soaked, but my cuffs are bone dry! Everything’s comin’ up Milhouse!
Let me restate this moment — Milhouse is standing on the second floor of his house. Water is in up to his ankles. Everything below him is likely destroyed by the flood, most of what is in his room is destroyed by the flood, in any other part of the definition he is in a disaster area. Heck, even he admits his feet are soaked; and I haven’t even mentioned the released zoo animals (lions, tigers, zebras, etc) that are swimming around with snorkeling gear on. Yet because his cuffs are dry …Everything’s comin’ up Milhouse!
We were once calling those moments, Milhouse moments. When we took the time to celebrate something minor in an effort to ignore the world around us. Sometimes we used to say someone was having a Milhouse moment just to deflate their optimism and be a jerk about it too. It was all meant in fun, that realization that ‘Hey this one thing is really good if I ignore everything else wrong in the world’ is something funny in embracing pessimistic optimism.
This morning, I found out that I passed a major professional exam – my American Society of Quality Certified Manager of Quality & Operation Excellence. It was not easy, grueling and tedious. Four hours of essays and multiple choice that I spent most of January and February studying for. It comes at a fortuitous time in my career as it suggests that I am capable of performing duties and functions I have been passed over for in the past, and am trying to pursue in the future. There’s a very good chance that most of you reading this don’t know what that certification means, nor what it could mean for my career. But also there is a very good chance that most who would read it on a resume will give it more than a few blinks or thoughts. In other words, I am putting a lot into the excitement and relief of passing the exam, even though I know its not probably as big of a deal as I may think. Or in other-other words … when I found out I passed this morning, I said “Everything’s Comin’ Up Milhouse”.
The true beauty of these moments isn’t that nagging pessimism that is there, quite the opposite. We all have Milhouse moments. We have that time when something that is important to us makes us feel better about it than we probably should. The point isn’t to say ‘you shouldn’t be feeling that way’. The point is to say ‘Isn’t feeling this way awesome’? Happiness is infectious, it is bountiful of what could become us. Happiness leads us to the next step, the next joy, the next Milhouse Moment.
And hopefully, I’ll have more Milhouse Moments in the weeks to come.