What is happiness? I find that this question is what drives all human activity, in whatever endeavour, to find happiness within the bracket they seek to find happiness in. There are the obvious sources and misconceptions of happiness being equated with money or wealth, a large house, cars, an unlimited reliable bank account and other such things.
‘Happiness’ is non-existent
What we should pursue then is not happiness because we are very liable to slip into the unforgivable mistake of obstructing the happiness of another.
Others define it as spiritual connection, an assurance that one would make it to heaven, find peace with God, and live in eternal Eden, where sin has been wrenched from your soul forever.
‘Happiness’ is non-existent. What exists instead is You, the Self in the World and the consequent actions and reactions with the world. What exists is how you play your role as
a. A human
b. An individual with societal connections
c. A person with cares and responsibilities which must work in accordance with the world
Pursuing ‘happiness’ would have the counter-effects of having you work against yourself, against society, and against the world. This stems from the near impossibility of deriving an accurate universal definition of happiness. It means different things to different people, thus implying, people would be fighting against the odds of the world and the odds of other people’s ‘happiness’ to gain what to them is happiness. What happens in the process is the stepping on toes of people with a very different outlook, clashing with people going in very different directions, and worse, the hatred brewed in the difference and the perception of someone working against your own definition of happiness. Let’s avoid the above abstractions, and delve into illustrations.
Assume for instance Mensah is a real estate broker. His definition of happiness is accumulation of wealth expressed in property. Mensah has the driving will and might to destroy neighborhoods he calls ‘poverty stricken ghettos’ for his posher grade of real estate.
Assume there exists a priest who derives happiness from demeaning the self-worth of others, and constantly pounds into the heads of his congregation that they are spiritually un-whole, doomed to eternal hell for sins which never seem to overcome, no matter how hard they try.
Insecure Tom finds happiness in telling poor, dark Jojo that his dark skin is a ‘dirty’ colour, a curse from his ancestor, Cain. There is a sweet sadistic, empowering pleasure he derives from having him hang like ‘strange fruit’ from a tree, crowned by the comic relief of seeing his tongue sticking out, like a silly grin accepting his inferiority.
Happiness for a capitalist is to convert everything on earth with any purity for the purposes of wealth generation, destroying the natural balance of the world.
Herr Reichenstein is quite sure that his happiness sits right on top of this mound of gassed Jew bodies.
Abena believes her happiness lies in defeating this harsh capitalistic system which legalizes her oppressors’ oppression. She has no qualms, breaking into their homes, stealing their capitalist-embossed wealth. Killing a few in the process is just a plus. Damn, it feels real good to see their snobbish faces contorted in fear at the face of the gun.
Happiness for the Republic of Incredula, a country in the peak of its ‘superpowerdom’, is invading countries that foolishly dare to inhibit their smooth derivation of oil.
Thus, can happiness really exist? How can one’s happiness be at the cost of another’s? Is it essentially happiness if it obstructs the happiness of others?
What we should pursue then is not happiness because we are very liable to slip into the unforgivable mistake of obstructing the happiness of another. What we should do instead is recognize that first and foremost we are human beings, human beings born into societies made up of different and unique human beings. With this as our basis, we should pursue the understanding of toleration, the respect of the humanity of others and realize that our freedom ends at the door of another’s freedom. We act on this with the realization that allowing for the differences of others, without defining our happiness on their destruction, is the natural way by which the world works and humanity progresses.
What will be a happy thing is the non-definition and non-qualification of the notion of ‘happiness’ to suit what we perceive are our needs. Happiness, if it can properly be defined, would most likely lie in the recognition of the natural balance of the world, the give and take of things, carbon dioxide for oxygen – everything working for the benefit of itself and others, and ultimately for the progress of humanity.
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