What do we really want?
What drives us? What gets us up in the morning, what motivates us to do what we do day in, day out? What is our ultimate goal?
I think, when all is said and done, we want to be happy.
Dictionary.com defines HAPPY as:
–adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est.
1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
Is that, or is that not what we ultimately are after?
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of the most quoted lines from the Declaration of Independence.
I would argue that this drives everything we do. We go to work to earn money in order to have things that we believe will make us happy. We seek relationships in order to have someone to share our life with…to be happy. We do all kinds of activities to bring ourselves happiness.
Happiness is a FEELING. You sense it, feel it, experience it. A smile. A laugh. That sense of elation and ultimate comfort. Happy is GOOD.
So why are so many people UNhappy?
Depression, discontent, anger, unhappiness. Every day we face these forces, and all too often they manage to interfere, and derail the attempt to find happiness. All too often they manage to dominate our lives.
We are told that we have to earn happiness. We are told that we have to do all these other things in order to be happy. And we are told happiness is fleeting. Denis Leary sums it up thusly: “Nobody’s happy, ok!? Happiness comes in small doses folks. It’s a cigarette, or a chocolate cookie, or a five second orgasm. That’s it, ok! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, ok!?”
And the trouble is, most of us have come to believe that. Most of us look at that and say, yup, too true.
But if that is true, then I suggest you spend time with a child under the age of five. Happiness is NOT fleeting – it’s more, it goes deeper. It’s a familiar face, a friend, a sandbox, a push on a swing, a toy train, or a butterfly passing by. Happiness can last for HOURS. Watch the smiles, listen to the laughter, see the animation on their faces, and see if happiness is a far simpler thing than we make it out to be.
Because that is REALLY what the problem is. We work hard, we strive to get all these things we THINK will make us happy. But things are not the answer. Happiness cannot be bought – happiness is a FEELING. Happiness just IS.
Whether we choose to believe it or not – we have control over our feelings. We CAN choose to be affected by our environment, or others – but we make that choice. We ultimately control our emotional state. But it is not the easy way.
Our society is all about quick fixes nowadays. Take a pill. Cast the blame elsewhere. Take the easy way out. Find the quickest path. We don’t like to look too deeply at things, we fear intellect and depth. And the notion that FEELINGS are complex, and hard to codify and explain means this is something we seek a simple explanation for.
In too many ways, we strive to NOT feel. Feelings are scary! And rather than experience the negative feelings (which we actually need in order to recognize the positive feelings) we strive for unemotional. We want to be Vulcans – all logic, no feeling.
YES, feelings are SCARY sometimes. Because you can feel love and joy and happiness. But you can also feel pain and sorrow and anger and hate and sadness. And it is quicker and easier to feel and empathize with the negative emotions. As such, some people think it is just easier to not feel. And yet…they still seek happiness.
So how can you seek happiness, and at the same time, seek feeling NOTHING?
And that is one of the great contradictions of our society. Don’t feel – but be happy.
Let me be blunt and clear on this – you CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!
We have this amazing capacity to be ENORMOUS! The meat sacks we run around in are nothing but a shell. What they contain is equivalent to a TARDIS – FAR larger on the inside than on the outside.
We are afraid to explore that potential. We turn to superficial answers, like religion, in order to explain it. And then we get so caught up in the greater meaning of this facet of our existence, that we neglect to address it in the here and now. And the here and now is what we NEED to consider, more often than we do.
We dwell on the past. We dream of the future. And the here and now just passes us by. I was hurt by this, but down the line I want that. I recall the pain, but want to feel the pleasure. And what about RIGHT NOW? Where is the focus on NOW?
I don’t care if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist. I don’t care if you believe in an afterlife or not. What I care about is that we ACKOWLEDGE this being, consider how we ALLOW ourselves to feel – and I care that we make an effort to act on this.
If we accept that we CAN be happy, that we have the RIGHT to be happy, that it is not owed to us or earned – we can have SO MUCH MORE in this life. All these superficial trappings – money, possessions, people we surround ourselves with – these will not make us happy. WE make us happy. WE choose to be happy.
Next argument I will get is “You can’t be happy all the time.” You’re right. You can’t. You WILL have bad days. You will feel sad. You will feel blue. You will feel angry. You will be upset. And I am not suggesting you discount those emotions. On the contrary – you need to acknowledge them.
What I WILL argue is that there is a difference between acknowledging your emotions, and DWELLING on them. If you make the choice to hold onto these negative emotions, that is a different problem. They happen, and you need the negative to know the positive. But do you choose to acknowledge them and move on – or do you choose to hold onto them, feed them, give them the power?
Because that is my whole point. We have the power. We control the emotions. We control the feelings. And we choose to feel, or not feel. And maybe, if we are more conscious of that choice, if we stop giving the power and energy to the negative, and feed the positive – MAYBE we might actually be able to BE HAPPY.
Do you want to prove me wrong? Go ahead. I am sure it is easy to do. Refute my claim. Then I ask that you show me that you are not doing precisely what I am saying.
THINK about it. And don’t let life live you – CHOOSE. Make choices when it comes to how you allow yourself to feel. Take the control you have every right to.
Then – let yourself feel happiness. Allow yourself to be happy!