There’s a Difference between a Happy Life and a Good Life 713.1

Charlie Sheen recently took his place at the head of the line of celebrities who have publicly discredited themselves, ruined their relationships, and damaged their careers by addictive and self-destructive behavior.

I’ve been reluctant to give even more attention to an essentially trashy story, but I see an important lesson in the way he continues to defend his unhealthy lifestyle with pride and claims that he is happy, living every man’s dream.

During a whirlwind of media interviews, he insists he’s overcome his alcohol and drug problems and that his polygamous life with his two “goddesses” proves his good fortune. He also claims this shows he’s a good father to the two toddlers who live with him, since his concubines help care for the children.

His gaunt and ravaged appearance suggests the harmful consequences of his lifestyle, but he insists he is happy despite contrary armchair diagnoses of mental health and addiction experts.

That’s where I became intrigued. Though I suspect the experts are right – that his behavior reflects deep problems most of us would associate with profound unhappiness – if he really truly thinks he is happy, he is happy, right? After all happiness is just a state of mind.

Perhaps he’s confusing pleasure with happiness, but it doesn’t really matter. His flamboyant spectacle of self-indulgence and obvious lack of self-awareness provide vivid proof that there’s a difference between a happy life and a good one.

I hope he eventually finds a way to a more healthy and fulfilling life, but, in the meantime, he is simply a reminder of the hollowness of a life without purpose or meaning.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 11

  1. I am not familiar with Charlie Sheen because I do not watch network television. I just heard about him when all this gossip began to spread about Sheen’s lifestyle. It is apparent to most people that this man is behaving in a way that will shorten his life; he is unaware of the trouble he is causing himself. I like your comments about Mr. Sheen’s problems, your thoughts mirror the words of the late Leo Rosten. In a wonderful piece Mr. Rosten wrote for the Rotarian in September 1965, Rosten writes that many people believe life is about being “happy.” Rosten comments that is a cheap goal to have. Instead, Leo Rosten suggests that a life with meaning where what you do makes the world a better place is the purpose of life, not merely to be happy.
    Philip Henderson, Ethical Magician

  2. I agree with this commentary, Charlie Sheen does have what every man wants. He has the fame, the money, and women. I think that he does not know what he has until he has nothing. I heard on the news that he wants a raise of 3.5 million dollars. Already he gets aid 2 million dollars a show. I don’t think that he is crazy I know that he is crazy. I watch the show Two and a Half Man and I don’t think that anybody could replace Charlie Sheen.

  3. To a casual observer, Charlie Sheen’s recent video rants seem to be examples of denial and/or mental instability. The only first-hand knowledge I have is of a few friends and acquaintances who fought drug addictions back in the 80’s and 90’s. The couple of Sheen video posts I’ve seen vividly remind me of how my friends could appear after/during a 2 or 3 day coke binge. And if he’s clean and sober as he claims, then one would have to believe there could be some kind of mental impairment to cause the near-manic behaviour Sheen is showing. I would hope Sheen’s friends and family would step in to help if they thought his current behaviour was outside the norm for him. If this is the way he normally acts, he would surely be a person I would avoid as much contact with as possible. I would also be concerned with the safety of the children if this were normal for him.

  4. I am so sick of listening to Charlie Sheens crazy talk and am equally disappointed in the media for continuing to prove that Mr. Sheen is a sick individual by broadcasting his inappropriate behavior on national TV. Seems to me he might have a touch of alcohol related dementia. He gave up his children, family and career for the drink. When so many of us are struggling to keep our jobs, homes and families together he is readily throwing his away, that is not only sad but pathetic. My sorrow for his family including his parents is overwhelming, I can’t image their dissappointment and embarrassment.

  5. I think Mr. Sheen is mentally ill. It appears that he is suffering from mania. I think it is appalling that so many people are watching him on television and the internet as entertainment. His thoughts and actions are irrational and he deserves our pity.

  6. I agree with Stephanie:
    “I think Mr. Sheen is mentally ill. It appears that he is suffering from mania. I think it is appalling that so many people are watching him on television and the internet as entertainment. His thoughts and actions are irrational and he deserves our pity.”
    I believe Mr. Sheen is experiencing a manic episode. We should not be giving him the media attention.

  7. Mr.Sheen is a bag of mental, moral, and emotional wreckage. His interpretation of “happy” tells it all. As a long time alcoholic in recovery , I have discovered the “good life”-one of sobriety, sanity, serenity, and responsibility. My “happy” life was one of booze, drugs, sexual variety and material indulgence. You might say, the “Sheen” formula. Charlie needs help to grow up. Let him swim in the swirling waters of self-destruction until he gets sick and tired of being sick and tired – and then willing to go to any length to find the “good life”-or die.

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