Rainn Wilson was asked to share some lessons for living a good life. Moments later he was convulsing on the couch, showing off how he experiences “rapturous joy.”
Post-convulsion, during an appearance on HuffPost Live, he shared some poignant thoughts on happiness, his marriage, and being true to yourself.
“I gotta be me, I have to find my own truth, my own way to be odd and ungainly and weird.”
I was doing my first Broadway play and I was terrible in it. I was bad. I had so much pressure on my shoulders. It was kind of a classic play and I thought I needed to be a certain way as an actor. And oh my god, I stunk. I was so distraught, I would be weeping in the middle of the night, calling my wife.
It was one of the hardest experiences I went through, to show up everyday to a Broadway play knowing that you suck.
Sometimes as an actor you’re just in the wrong part at the wrong time. But it was mostly my belief systems that really screwed me up and then after that something broke, something cracked.
I was just like screw this, I’m not going to be that kind of actor anymore. I gotta be me, I have to find my own truth, my own way to be odd and ungainly and weird and bring who I am through my characters. I don’t need to try to be anyone, anything, to impress anyone else or try to make people to like me. I have to be me. It was this whole new way of being but it took weeks of devastating difficulty.
“The most important thing about any relationship is falling in love with the other person’s faults.”
Someone once said, and I think this is really great, that the most important thing about any relationship is falling in love with the other person’s faults. I think a lot of couples tolerate other people’s faults. Like “oh, this is wrong, and this bugs me, but I’ll tolerate that.” But then you get to a point where you embrace their flaws and their faults, and just be like, “I love that part of them, just as much as I love the other part of them.”
“Happiness is not something outside of ourselves to be pursued.”
This idea that you’ll get happiness through material means — everyone can kind of say, ‘oh yeah, yeah, I know that’s not true’ — but still we operate in that way. There’s this kind ‘if, then’ proposition about happiness which is if I get this, or if this happens, if I get this wife, or this house, or this job, or this promotion, or whatever, or this career…then I’ll be happy. I’m not happy now.
I think that happiness is to be found in the Buddhist tradition, completely in the moment, right here and now. Daily gratitude, twice daily, thrice daily, minute-daily gratitudes — how many minutes are there in a day?? — that is where really happiness is to be found. It’s not something outside of ourselves to be pursued.
Sophia is a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.