Steve Blevins

Steve Blevins
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
November 05
Steve Blevins teaches medicine at the University of Oklahoma. He enjoys reading, music, and travel. He is interested in American and European history, French literature and culture, and music for piano and chamber ensemble.


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Editor’s Pick
JULY 12, 2010 8:00AM

Why I'm Happy

Rate: 122 Flag


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."

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I'm so glad you're happy, Steve! You have the right attitude. And I bet you made a helluva badminton player. This is great.
I feel happier already after reading your piece. Funny and ironic stuff. R-
Steve, brilliant! I absolutely loved this....not only because of its humor, but because of the truth that the post contained. The funny thing is, I'm not sure how much is fiction and how much is nonfiction. I have a feeling a little of both. Honestly, I don't watch TVsimply because I'd rather be doing other things. I do know who Sandra is, but didn't know who the others were. Maybe that's why I'm usually happy.......Seriously, I think commercials and Hollywood in general make people feel they are lacking in their lives. It's best to stay away! Thanks for starting my day so "happily!"
There's one thing you DO know! You know how to write and tell a great story. That's a benefit to anyone who reads your work! You know someone has to say it, so I'll be the first: Ignorance is bliss! You have, indeed, proved that adage to correct, and I thank you for it! And if you truly have seen only one movie in your live, you saw the right one! May the Schwartz be with you!
Now, this was one fun read!! -r
"That's why stupid people are happier than smart people: They lack vital information. " You make me laugh. And what were you doing in Wal-mart to begin with?
ahhh...aren't epiphanies grand? At any age ;-)
You uncovered the secret to happiness right there in a Wal-Mart!
Maybe they have the fountain of youth in there too..._r
Thanks for starting my morning off with a hearty laugh!
Excellent philosophy, and one that several members of my family follow diligently.
Steve, down here in Miami the people are going crazy over LeBron coming here. And that makes me unhappy, because they don't go crazy over important problems that need to be fixed. I wish I didn't know who he was, like you. What a dopey world we live in.
Walmart, Oklahoma? I thought it was in Idaho. ;-|
You don't know Cracker Jack.
Steve, I wonder how much happier we would be if we went a week without listening to or reading the news. If I shut out the rest of the world, honestly, my life would be pure bliss. But Steve, help me out in the world do I approach this day with joy knowing that Lindsay Lohan is going to jail!!! Love this post Steve. R
You have to see The Empire Strikes Back, if only for the Ewok dance.
You are right about most of this, Doc, but wrong about the movies. They went downhill after Duck Soup.
I only know about the subject matters you heard about in the Walmart line from reading OS -- mostly cover page picks. Says alot about the writers, editors, and audience here, wouldn't you agree?

: )

Great read -- thanks.

Funny stuff Doc!
You have your priorities straight, dear man.

That little happy pudgy yellow thingie with it's feet in the sand proves it.
Amen! I can't imagine being bothered by any of that cultural jetsam; I worry more about things like where to find a decent tomato. Thanks for a lift both literary and spiritual!
Steve, you are certainly on to something...

Unfortunately, I know who these people are. No amount of alcohol seems sufficient to erase their names from my memory. But I'll keep trying!
Brilliant deduction. I will remember this today and try to drain my mind of all superfluous details. I like badminton too.
And shrewdly you did not get, or pass on, the greeter's name!

Droll and succinct advice for the living. If you could package this i bet they would put you on the Today Show and in People magazine, and Oprah or Wendy Williams would interview you. Trust me.
Who knew Jesse James dressed up in Nazi regalia. I thought he was pre-Nazi by quite a bit. Um, yes, having no interest in and major ignorance of sport seems to save a lot of angst. I do worry about the goings-on of the Y&R characters tho...

Yah know, there should be some major outlet for your pieces. Do magazines and papers run humor columns any more? (Some chap named Joel Stein got in trouble with his humor column the other day - people who know about it got quite upset...)
I know who those people are and what they are doing, and I don't care. I guess that is why I am happy.
You know what makes me happy? That you're back writing on OS.
Now I know why I'm happy. Justin Blevins hasn't been mistreating me, either. Whoever he is.
Ignorance truly is bliss. That's why stupid people are happier than smart people: They lack vital information. I was a genius!

A happy genius! No, wait... Hmm...

Me, I think I'll try to forget everything I learned in this post.

(On a bit of a tangent, I was recently talking to an English guy about the World Cup. We got on to the topic of sports in general, and he said, "You know what American sport I find really boring? Basketball."

"You mean baseball, right?"

"No, basketball."

"Basketball is more boring than baseball?"

"They run up and down the court, and they score every time."

At that point I recognized a great cultural divide...)
I mean Justin Bieber! Justin Bieber! But that Steve Blevins guy, on the other hand . . . he's making me crazy, he's so happy.
I'm happy that it was you who went into Walmart and not me. Scary big box store that it is.
Good Stuff, Steve~
Say "Goodnight" Gracie.
Well, I knew those named folks, too--and, like ocularnervosa above, I simply don't care! I have a friend who calls me every time she reads or hears something about any "star"--I keep telling her I don't know and I don't care, but she keeps "sharing" her news with me. Oh, well, if it makes her happy...................... ;o)

Nice piece, Steve. I'm SO glad you're back! Rated. D
Laugh and the world laughs with you!
I have been calling myself a simpleton for so long because I truly enjoy the lighter side of life. I'm so HAPPY to find others who do also. Now I'm going to go outside and water my garden because it simply makes me happy. Great story!
Great one, Steve. I'm also so glad you are back! R
Wonderful! I love it! Rated.

By the way, what's Walmart?
I'm happy you're happy! (And I've even heard of those people!) But I get it... I was once at a Christmas party and seated with a group of youngsters with whom I had nothing in common. Finally, someone said something about Tyson and I was happy to chime in about what a lunatic he was (you know, Mike Tyson, the boxer? Do you know??). Anyway, they looked at me like I was the lunatic. Turned out that Tyson was a model. Ugh. Yeah, I felt stupid. And old. :-)
You're one of those shiny happy people, Steve (have you heard of REM?) Great piece.
Thank you Steve, I didn't know who these people were either.

Wow! I learn somthing new everyday! I had no idea they had a Walmart in Oklahoma! ;o) {{{R}}}
blissful ignorance prevails!
Thank you, thank you. I wanted to know your secret. Now if you can just ignore Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Somolia, the DRC, Israel, Palestine, the Gaza strip, oil spills, oil companies, unemployment figures, the Congressional races, Congress, the Supreme Court, reports of tainted foods, reports of new medical crises, reports that contradict previous medical reports, and anything about Lindsay Lohan, you'll be ecstatic!
But please tell us how you feel about a second violin in a string quartet.
Ignorance is bliss . . . I think you're onto something. In fact, I know you are . . .
It was right after Thanksgiving dinner, in 2009. There was this guy in Florida named Eldrick... oh, never mind.
Didn't you find out about this in the book, "Stuff Big Pharma doesn't want you to know"? Seriously man, watch yourself. This could lead to trouble.
I don't think I have heard happiness explained so well, and I am right there with you!
Steve, I was with you right up until you brought in the Walmart Greeter. As one of those people, I can tell you that our happy attitude has nothing to do with ignorance, but rather the ingestion of powerful chemical compounds designed to restrain us from going "Postal". Oh, that reminds's time to take my pills!
Great post! Very funny.
Ignorance is often bliss. Great piece, very funny, yet true!
You have inspired me to ignorance! Bless you.

Look at me. I waste all this time informing everyone about the magnificent Alex Wong on So You Think You Can Dance, and then he goes and severs his achilles heel. Life is suffering.

Although my 9 year old son, who is in Israel visiting his dad, is a big Miami Heat fan. And I don't think anything this year has made me happier than conveying Lebron's decision. Sorry Cleveland, but there was joy in this house.

And I'm with Con about The Empire Strikes back. I don't think that movie would make you sad.

Still, I take your point.
I'm looking to be happy so I am taking this to heart.
This is so true. Last year, I made the mistake of commenting on Michael and Farrah's death, saying that I couldn't understand how people could be mourning with such fervour people they didn't know (and in the case of Michael, hadn't even liked). I suggested they should quit mourning and start helping out others. Well, what a shitstorm.
See, in this country, we worship celebrities, while the politicians yell for more "panem et circenses". And we dance and sing in our merry little way while all around us, the world burns. r.
You're just old and don't watch tv. Welcome to the Happy Club. I don't know who those people are either, except I did learn who Lebron was here at OS. Remember the other club rules: no iThingies, only one hour of internet daily, at least one walk per day, plenty of conversation with your beloveds, and stay out of Walmart.
it's best to know little of things people seem to think are big. very funny observance.
Yes, Steve, you're quite right. Many people are unaware of the prevalence of celebro-vicarious perturbation disorder. (It'll be in DSM-5.)

Some, like you, seem immune to CVPD. But many other Americans find the condition darkens their lives, making it impossible for them to enjoy simple things, such as CNN, or CNN anchor Rick Sanchez.

The tragedy is that most cases of CVPD continue to go undiagnosed. Fortunately, effective treatment is available and straightforward, through the use of high-dose haloperidol or chlorpromazine. Side effects may be an issue, of course. But patients report great relief from the celebrity lives and voices in their heads.

Thank you for raising awareness of this insidious and devastating condition.
What a delightful post!!!! But, Steve, are you really that clueless? Really?

I think you are handsome, Steve. But what do I know?
Oh, and btw, Steve. If I wasn't so head over heels in love with rstiene (who needs to be writing more, btw) I'd be all over you like a cheap suit, you handsome devil, you.
You sir, are the smart one. It's the stupid ones who let all that stuff get to them. :)
*sigh* forgot to rate.
Who's Walmart? (Oh, sorry, was just imitating one of the many spoiled housewives of the many states and counties). Brilliant.
Great post! Even though I'm a celebrity blogger its always nice to hear from someone who hasn't been completed consumed with/jaded by the media.
what a great post! Such a deep message amongst that great Blevins humor!
this is just FUN (I'm a happy man, too.) r.
As a little ditty I quoted in one of my own blog posts has it: "See the happy moron/He doesn't give a damn/I wish I were a moron/My god perhaps I am."

Your tale also reminds me of standing in the grocery line at the height of OJ Simpson's murder trial, when the entire country seemed to talk of nothing else, and a woman in her 20's turned to the guy she was with, gestured to a picture of OJ on the cover of the National Enquirer and asked, "So, whatever happened to that guy?"
I went on a news embargo right after the Supreme Court handed the White House to a guy who went by one initial. Gotta admit, it really IS the secret to happiness. Now, you have to clear this up for me: Did I hear somebody accidentally spilled some oil somewhere? Do they need some kitty litter? Because I hear that's great for soaking up a little bit of oil on your driveway.
I share your technique--I'm a pop culture ignoramus. I think your happiness goes deeper. No-nothingness hasn't really made me happy. Of course I could be unhappier, I suppose.

Was that funny? I hope so! Enjoyed the post Steve.
I should be in a state of bliss then :D
Steve...they all need to just focus on the important long Lindsey Lohan will spend in jail and that World Cup thingy. (How big is that cup, anyway? Is it like that cup they made us wear in Little League?)
I agree with you that ignorant people are more happy than who seek knowledge.One vital question arise why some people seek life long knowledge?Philosopher Nietzsche wrote to his sister you want to happy be ignorant and if you want to seek knowledge life long you to suffer..As you Given examples of people who are in worry and their suffering that is not aroused from ignorant but from boredom.Their life so empty they want some worry to kill the boredom.
Wonderful! I shall strive to forget everything I know about the popular culture!
You and my husband... blissfully unaware of all the nonsense. Lucky! But hearing you are happy.... instantly made me so.
So Dean Wormer in Animal House was wrong? Fat, drunk, and stupid **IS** a way to go through life.
Who are you calling stupid? For the most, I don't know and don't care what goes on in Hollywood or on the field/court. Never have I been able to understand the public's fascination with celebrity lives or the fact that they take other people's woes so seriously. Come to think of it, I don't watch soap operas either. I can find enough to keep me enthralled right in my own bedroom. But, hey, thanks for the laughs. This was one terrific post. Now, who are you?
This made me happy. :)
Badminton is pretty challenging. But you didn't know that and now I have ruined you. Please share other things you know nothing about, Mr. Happy. Some of us have the burden of being informed.
Oh, I think I'd be happier if I didn't know what I know, but then again I may feel dumb and then be sad. Life is full of catch 22s and just when you think you've got it figured out a new semi-truth is revealed.
You're happy . . . and you're so CUTE!
You are too handsome. Just saying.
Much enjoyed. And so true.
I have actually never been in a Walmart...although i have heard of it.
Steve I think this is my favorite post I've read on OS for a long time. I mostly happy in the way you are happy (I'm fairly clueless abuot pop culture, and only am aware of sports from the screaming males in my basement.)

The writing in this piece is wonderful, it moves the reader along at a clipped pace, but let this reader wanting more (and awfully happy.)

Congratulations on a wonderful post and well-deserved EP.

I assume someone else in this long line of comments beat me to this, but it seems what you discovered is the old saying, "Ignorance is bliss." There's nothing new under the son, my friend. Nothing whatsoever.
You are absolutely wonderful and absolutely correct! I don't think we realize how the underbelly of the world rises up inside of us until it seems like we own it, too. I rarely watch television and spend my time making art, writing, or reading...good books. On the plane the other day I was reading and the man next to me asked who the author was. I said, "William Faulkner." He said, "Who's that?" Case closed.
I think I'll remain in my own little world. I can smile from here:) Great post!
LeBron who? You ruined my ignorance! How dare you but I'm still happy anyway.
"I'm not handsome."

BS, on my "Happy Pants" scale . . . you're a nine!

This was funny!

Hilarioius piece, Steve. I do believe that you are right. I've often thought that the less a person knows, the less they have to worry about. I know it's true for me. Unfortunately, I am cursed with clarity and a need to know!
I know that's why I'm pretty happy, I don't pay any attention to that stuff either! This is a good answer to a question that was posed earlier on comfortcafe on what makes you laugh!
To paraphrase an old Joe Walsh (who's he?) title: "The stupider you think, the grinner you be".... or something along those lines. I like this Steve, it's a bold glimpse at a little slice of life. Very nice.
About 6 years ago I began making a plan for myself to regain sanity and peace of mind. I had a lot of bad things, drama, going on in my life. The first thing I did was cancel newspapers, quit listening to the radio, and stop watching any news or news magazines on tv. It put a big dent in eliminating some of the drama and chaos. I didn't need to be part of anyone else's drama since I had enough of my own.
I highly recommend it. I, too, am quite ignorant of the comings and goings of celebs and sports stars and proud of it. And who really needs to see the daily death and destruction around the world, both real and creative!
I can bet that I am equally as happy as you or maybe even more!!
This post made me happy-- hilarious!
It sounds like you've reached zen enlightenment. You'll reach nirvana when you realize everything, including happiness, is just an illusion...
It feels so good to have a pleasurable read inspired by utter and complete truth. I have always wondered why I was so happy all the time. No one had the courage to tell me..I assume, but then I let the assumtions go....Ummm..bliss......
May we all end up Walmart greeters! All the one's I know are very happy looking. Great post. Very clever. Congrats on the EP!
i thought mr. happy was something else. ;;
I'm very happy not knowing current pop culture. I only remember it from 1970 to maybe 82. After that I didn't want to know anything about it. Ignorance is bliss and don't wanna is Nirvana.

Crap! I just thought about Kurt Cobain. ugh!
First shot looks just like you, without the glasses.

Great read, but that's no news.
Thank you for your excellent modern day fable about the difference between being owned by the robots Vs. being owned by ones self. I refer to Corporations as Robots because as legal entities they are recognized as persons - but, like robots, are soulless inanimate things. The robot path is strewn with drama & diversion as it's main goal is to keep us convinced that the emperor is wearing clothes.
Perhaps it's not "complete" ignorance that's bliss, but ignornace of completely insignificant bullshit that seems to permeate our lives like a case of herpes, such as that Justin kid, Mel Gibson, LeBron, etc.....

A lot of road dust floating around out there getting in our eyes and up our noses.

Enjoy your trip and stay ignorant. It's much more fun :-)
Aw hell yeah. I can't imagine taking on celebrity drama as my own. Being poor and downtrodden has it's own charms -- the harmonica music and all -- and I don't need anyone else chiming in with their own instruments. Like Brad Pitt with his washboard antics. The man's a good looker, but he can't play a washboard for shit. Some people just ain't got the blues...
Steve, I ran a 40 some marathon on the path of knowledge, soaking up as much as I could and barely slowing down for a lemonade break. I've spent the last few years trying to unload myself of as much useless stuff as I can and working very, very hard to shield myself from over-knowing. I live under a REALLY huge rock! Thanks for elevating ignorance to the throne it so richly deserves. Not that anyone in the entire universe, including God, hasn't already seen your post here, but just in case - msp.
Hey, I know who all those people are and they don't make me the least bit unhappy.
p.s. I don't know the wal-mart greeter. I don't go to wal-mart. And you're hilarious.
Sorry I missed this en route to missouri, iowa and back to illinois. Steve, this is just delightful and so true. Sometimes I relish not listening to the news, not knowing what carnage/fresh hell lurks beneath the cover of the newspaper or a magazine. Great stuff! Very rated and very excited about your EP!!! yay!
Well, I certainly wouldn't go out on a limb and make any claims to happiness, but it's my theory that knowing about current events won't hurt you so much, it's the taking them personally that does. My BH can be cast into despair or anger over the antics of 'celebrities' that she doesn't know and who will never know her, as well as the scripted activites of the fictional personas that people 'her' soap operas. I'll be standing in line at the supermarket carefully guarding my ' lack of knowledge' by refusing to make eye contact with any tabloid front covers when she gasps OMG! Did I tell you she's pregnant? My mother's soul quakes and I turn in shock only to hear that she is talking about a fictional character in a show I don't watch... sigh. Looks like genuine distress, sounds like genuine distress... How come she is the happy one?
great post. i'm a big fan of not knowing what's going on if it doesn't directly impact my life.
It's okay, Steve, I thought Lebron was some kind of defective car people were upset about! Great post, stay happy!!
Happiness comes from not knowing what the hell is going on.

I agree Steve! So many things we cannot change, so why worry!?
You've hit on the secret! I'm happy too, but I know some of those things -- I just don't think they have anything to do with ME, so they don't affect my happiness at all!
Walmart scares me.
And their greeters even more.
A valid theory, but it still doesn't explain why Senator Jim Inhofe always looks constipated. There's a guy who should be skipping with daisies in a meadow, while the rest of us worry that he'll crack his head open and a city block will be sucked into the vacuum.
Rated. Here's something you should know there's a
party @ my blog for Tink.
I just love you to bits! ***
love ya so much I came back to rate you too!
Mr. or should I say Dr. Blevins,
I have been hearing about you on OS for months now... You are truly a Genius!
You have captured the hearts and minds of OS and set a new standard for excellence. And let me tell you I'm sure that wasn't easy to do with all the cynics here.
I am happy you are happy...You have inspired me to stop watching TV and devote my life to the pursuit of ignorance...
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I know I will soon be able to throw the anti-depressants away and stop taking my anti anxiety pills, this is all thanks to your brilliant insight and recommendation.
Steve Blevins you have changed my life!
Not knowing the following makes me absolutely ecstatic:
1. What the neighbors think
2. Anything one can learn from an X-ray
3. What I look like in a snapshot
4. My net worth
5. What mother's been up to this week
I know who Sandra Bullock is, but not the others. Sometimes living under a rock has its advantages .;)
Ignorance may not be bliss, but like Scientology's "clear", or Zen's ""lotus flower", or just unhurried contemplation in a hurried world it plows the furrow for it's planting.
(R)ated for not knowing who Jesse James was.
If you're happy, then surely you're happy.