We all want to be happy because if we are not happy it means our lives are miserable. But that is not true. Not having ‘happiness’ has nothing to do with being sad and likewise being happy does not mean you can’t be sad. It is our awareness and valuing of what is already there in terms of people and things that gives us a sense of fulfilment.
Happiness is a psycho-emotional state that is fleeting just as anger and sadness are. Pursuing ‘happiness’ as a goal, in my opinion, has caused much sadness and anguish because in reality there is no such thing as the state of happiness. Just as it is not possible to reach a point where one says I have an angry life, it is futile to chase happiness.
What we can do is pursue pleasurable activities like going on vacation in a beautiful island but we can’t say we have arrived at happiness because we arrived on the island. Quite to the contrary, excessive indulgence in pleasure often causes much unhappiness. Generally speaking, what can be bought can sometimes make us happy but cannot guarantee happiness. Happiness is one of those words whose mere existence interferes with its realisation. As people embark on attaining and maintaining it, half of the world’s tragedies are born. Mostly because nobody knows what the hell happiness is all about and the running after it and the pushing and shoving to realise it and the looming failure to do so creates a lot of sadness and anguish.
Ultimately, when people pursue that which they don’t understand, they look for cues as to what it might be from other people in their surroundings. The problem is that people are made ‘happy’ by different things. Some people are happy when a debt is cleared, others are ecstatic when they solve a century-long math equation, a section of people that is really happy to hear sad music, others are ‘happy’ by sharing their happiness on Instagram and some feel really happy by making others happy.
When immediate surrounding fails to provide clues, people seek refuge on the net and social media and here is where most emotional carnage is caused.
First degree idols and role models on the net (most of whom are made happy by sharing their ‘happiness’) are statistically not your normal everyday people and their make-believe life goes through a gruelling filtering process before it broadcast. They are often the strongest, the richest, the most beautiful and the most ‘amazing’, they constitute less than a quarter of a percentage but because the Internet is a business arena and the extraordinary is what sells, their improbable lives receive most publicity.
They practically act to be paid but most of those imitating them do the opposite; Most ‘normal’ people in pursuit of extraordinariness, stand out and the much illusive fame, actually pay a hefty financial and social price to act the roles.
Naturally, acting calls for audience, and the competition to showcase happiness arises and the followers, the likes and the sharing becomes an obsession. Sharing moments of happiness becomes more important than living that ‘happiness’.
We are so eager to show the world that our children are beautiful that we actually forget the beauty of playing with them. So eager to broadcast our weddings that we forget the vows. I am not against occasional sharing of photos or pressing the like button. I too like the Likes; I don’t even know anyone who doesn’t like the Likes; in fact, some people make a good living by accumulating the Likes.
But it becomes disastrous when we go beyond sharing and start using social media to get validation for our life’s activities; we ‘share’ to the extent that the satisfaction from the real-life experience itself becomes subject to approval from others, often total strangers. We can’t turn our lives into live streaming movies and live them in real terms at the same time. We ought to do one thing movies do, add background music to our real lives; and that is nothing other than the understanding that ‘life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last’. Live it, enjoy it fully, then perhaps can share it later but not for the sake of showcasing your happiness, seeking validation or claps.
Being happy is not a destination, it is a lifetime process that has painful stations as well. We can travel towards it but we can’t pretend to have arrived by sharing every little happening. We are just adding to the collective confusion and heartache.
Forget happiness. Pursue bliss, contentment, righteousness, service, ordinariness and perhaps you might be HAPPY!
Not pushing for mediocrity, simply stating that it is a fact of life.
‘If we fail to see the extraordinary ordinariness of life’, we set ourselves up for a huge disappointment.