“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the 'pursuit' part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?”-The Pursuit of Happyness
Since antiquity, human beings have realized that all our actions are directed towards attaining a singular state of mind i.e. happiness. Health, wealth and everything else are sought by us merely because we believe they would take us closer to this elusive target of HAPPINESS. But the farther we proceed in our quest of materialistic acquisition, the greater is the realization our discontent. And thus we are forced to ask whether we can truly be happy? Is attaining a perennial state of happiness an insurmountable task? Is our pursuit for happiness as the aforementioned quote suggests “a never-ending quest for a non-existent state”?
For all those who haven’t seen the movie, it ends with the following line. I quote:
“This part of my life... this part right here? This is called "happiness.”
Pursuit of Happyness is candidly a mesmerizing story with an equally fascinating message, but then, none of us require a movie to convey to us that happiness exists. It is not a myth .It is not a dream. It is not one of those million false promises that religion has sold to us. We know it because in these small lives of ours at least once we had that marvellous epiphany when everything seemed to be centred on us. When our exhilaration had transcended all limits and we were in absolute control of our existence. That was moment when we knew we were truly happy. We know happiness exists because we had a sip of it once. And now we are like a tippler who has tasted an exquisite beer and is searching for the brewery. We, like that drunkard, have no memory of how we attained that nip in the first place.
“More than anything else, men and women seek happiness.” – Aristotle
Human beings have been acquainted with the idea of happiness for more than 5000 years and yet to us the concept is as much a conundrum as it used to be for our ancestors. We have not been very successful in deciphering the secrets of happiness. One of the reasons can be its circumstantial nature. It is not a precise science with defined set of rules. It is an abstract state with a few general principles and numerous variations. What makes one happy won’t make everyone happy. And thus this route to happiness has to be paved down by every individual for himself. I shall not proclaim to make anyone happy through this blog, for it is a truly exceptional phenomenon for one human being to make other human being happy, nor will I offer you any guidelines on how to be happy. I will only share some essentials of happiness. How you shall interpret these or achieve these vitals is for you to decide? I am man of facts and I shall lay down some and then I shall leave you to your own judgement.
“The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it friendly. It is simply indifferent.”-J.H.Holmes
Universe is, against what religion makes us believe, not designed to fulfill our needs. Our actions are insignificant in changing the course of this vast cosmos. And thus most of the times our fate is chaotic and uncertain. We often don’t achieve what we wish for and that is the underlying reason for discontent. And thus happiness is realized in all our attempts of attaining complete or partial control of our lives. It is a result of victory against the hindrances caused by uncertainty. It is the reward for manifestation of oneself’s control on his life. Happiness is the sense of mastery, a sense of participation in determining the content of ones’ life. It is a celebration of the quest of an individual's will over the enormity of the cosmos.
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue…as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” -Viktor Frankl
Now, it is evident why happiness is contextual and cannot be pursued. We battle with universe over definite a goal. It is a goal that we sincerely wish to accomplish. We are buffeted by several forces but we persevere because in our consciousness this goal is greater than ourselves and eventually when such a goal is attained, a state of happiness is bequeathed upon us as reward for our persistence. We can’t look for happiness directly; it is by being completely involved in every detail of our life, we can accomplish it. The more you strive for something, the greater is the sense of achievement. And therefore happiness is not in those passive, receptive and relaxing times but in the action of the moment when your body or mind is stretched beyond its limit. More you sweat, sweeter the fruit. Even those relaxing time are enjoyable only if you have worked hard to attain it.
Men are not afraid of things, but of how they view them,” - Epictetus.
Furthermore, happiness is not governed by external factors such as weather, war, poverty etc. As a matter of fact, many have experienced their happiest moments in such extremities. Such as meeting a lost sibling at a concentration camp after suffering a civil strife or a piece of bread after several days of hunger might be the happiest memories for many. The greater is the sufferance the smaller is the stimuli for happiness. Pleasure and pain are all in your consciousness. A situation can be pleasant or painful depending on how you interpret it. So if external factors cannot make you unhappy they can’t make you happy as well and we need to realize it. It is our interpretation of them that truly affect us. We live in a time where society is based on future gratification. It is fruitful for the society as it allows the society to exercise control on individuals by selling them dreams of glorious future. But to an individual future happiness has no significance as it will never be attained. I don’t advise you to break away from social norms as social evolution is as important as personal gratification. But, a socialized person often fails to notice many fulfilling experiences because he is bound by the desires of the society. It is imperative to understand that happiness can only be realized internally and thus we should relinquish the false hope for society-offered happiness.
Conclusively, happiness is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person and it can’t be done directly. We must not pursue happiness for this will turn out to be an eternal pursuit where happiness will never truly be realized. You mustn't search for it, you must realize it as byproduct. Happiness can only emanate as a result of achieving something that we truly believe in. We all have a perception of how our lives should be and we can put all our effort in realization of what we envisage. And when every single moment of our lives is spent to bring ourselves closer to that dream inch by inch subsequently we come closest to a happy life, a life of perennial happiness.
Interest is the key to life,
Interest is the clue.
Interest is the drum and fife,
And any God will do.