These days Happiness clubs are springing up all over the place and if you object then you are just another Mr Scrooge. Ruining the planets chance to march towards enlightenment on a big bubble of smiles. I wonder if it is just a coincidence or is the rise in Happiness club in line with the rise in violence and disorder that we are seeing in the world. It’s as if we are all running on some collective existential angst that could fall apart at any time. And it does feel as if things are coming apart at the seams. I am not a doomsayer or a misery guts and I even popped to the gym today which made me feel much happier. It’s just that when Happiness becomes the sole focus of attention as if it should be attained like any other product or promotion that I start to worry. I don’t feel that that kind of happiness is a happiness at all. It’s more like the fake smile that you receive from a waitress in an American restaurant. It has to be there. It doesn’t want to be but it screams. ‘I’m on a low wage and if I don’t get enough money I can’t pay my rent.’ I’d rather we’d have some proportional wage redistribution system that ensured the poor were no longer poor and the big grin became a contented half-smile, or a resigned nod to each other that said. ‘It’s a shit day today but it’s not that bad.’
It may be hugely coincidental that the home of ‘the pursuit of happiness’ is also the home of school children shooting each other dead. To be happy at all costs. A kind of misaligned journey towards enlightenment that says. ‘I’ll get their first and when I do I’ll come back and help you.’ But when you turn around your friends are all dead. Maybe this pursuit for happiness could be a pursuit of contentment or an appreciation for where we are at. The purchasing of material goods, over and above of when you need is not about happiness. It’s about distraction. A distraction from an uneasy discontentment that needs recognizing. Maybe underneath that is greed. And underneath that is fear. The fear of death. The fear of losing it all. The fear of embarrassment or failure. Maybe that fear is so great that a young child who feels he or she is losing it all in the face of their friends and family and the American Dream. They would rather buy a gun and film themselves killing their friends. Because to them it feels like their winning.
I think happiness isn’t really something you can pursue since it’s something different for everyone. And if you base your happiness on goals or things you will never be happy even if you achieve everything you set out to. Like you mentioned, you should be working towards being content with where you are in life. That way, no matter what happens you’ll know how to be happy.
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agreed and thanks for the comment. It’s about not being fixated on one mind state more than another. But agree, I prefer contentment and sometimes I am happy and sometimes sad.
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Very good point. when I am asked if I am happy, I have to stop and ask myself, what is that even? It seem to me that contentment is a much more achievable state of being, and just being with whatever we are feeling is perhaps the best way to attain it, no pushing or striving necessary. This trivial pursuit as an antidote to our fear of death? I believe you may be right there! So our task should not be to seek happiness as a way to ward off our fear of demise, but to make our peace with the notion of death as a new beginning, rather than an ending, itself while we are living. Energy never dies it is merely transformed..the eastern philosophies, including yoga, are an insanely good antidote for the western obsessions with distraction.