“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy” – says Robert Louis Stevenson.
It’s true. To date happiness has defied definition. It can be a state of joy, pleasure, goodness, or satisfaction. Most people tend to equate happiness with fun, good living, plenty of money. If happiness were synonymous with this, entire rich people with all their luxuries and countless parties would be perpetually happy. But in actual fact, they are, frequently, acutely unhappy, despite their riches and ability to indulge in fun activities at will. Fun is what we experience during an act, happiness is that intangible something we experience after an act. We may have fun watching a movie, going shopping, meeting friends – these are all fun activities that afford us fleeting moments of relaxation and enjoyment. Happiness, on the other hand, is a much stronger, deeper and more abiding emotion. Fun is what we feel while doing something; happiness is a residual and more lasting feel.
If we perceive happiness as the ultimate goal, we must also devise a way to reach that goal. The way to happiness is not a smooth, broad highway along which we can cruise at a comfortable speed. It is a path through rocky and rugged terrain and the going can become very tough at times. At these times we have to roll up our sleeves and with, pitchfork and shovel, make our way onwards. This pursuit of happiness lasts a lifetime. Great happiness is earned only by great effort and effort not in spurts but diligent, constant effort.
In this connection we are confronted with another fallacy, that fun and pleasure mean happiness and thus pain, its corollary, must be synonymous with unhappiness. But in fact the truth is quite different. Things that bring us happiness, more often than not, involve some amount of pain. It is because of misconception that people avoid the very endeavor that is the source of true happiness. Difficult endeavors – such as raising of children, establishing deeper relationships with loved ones, trying to do something worthwhile in life – hold the promise of a world of happiness.
Happiness is not a permanent vacation. Another prevalent belief is that if one were rich enough not to have to work one would be blissfully happy. But a job is more than just a pay cheque. Almost all religions teach us that work is worship. Work holds the key to happiness as doing something which increases confidence and self-worth. It brings on a feeling of satisfaction, of doing something, of contributing. Job satisfaction comes less from how much one earns than from the challenge of the job. Of course the pay-cheques count. Happiness is the deferred fulfillment of a prehistoric wish. That is why wealth brings so little happiness; money is not an infantile wish. It would be unrealistic to suggest that one could be happy without a basic shelter, roaming the streets on an empty stomach.
A secret ingredient of happiness is contentment. Contentment here does not mean apathy or lack of ambition, just as commitment does not mean curtailment of freedom. Commitment teaches us to give so that we may receive and contentment helps us to cherish the gifts we have received. These things are worth a try even if they don’t promise access to the pinnacle of success. Success, after all, has been described as getting what one wants, whereas happiness is liking what one gets.
Each and everyone have their happiness defined in a unique way. That’s why great English poet Alexander Pope says –
The learned is happy nature to explore,
The fool is happy that he knows no more.
If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.
Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. If you haven’t been happy very young, nothing to worry – you can still be happy later on! Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation or creed. Sometimes happiness is what we get in emotions. For example, the love between Othello and Desdemona in play Othello written by William Shakespeare –
OTHELLO : If it were now to die,
I were now to be most happy, for I fear
My soul hath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate.
DESDEMONA: The heavens forbid
But that our loves and comforts should increase
Even as our days do grow!
In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past. A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy and nothing can stop him. Often you don’t know how truly happy you were then until you look back and realize how much worse things could have been. Nevertheless—you know, in life, you get moments—just occasionally which you can positively identify as being among the happy moments. Goodness does not more certainly make men happy than happiness makes them good.
Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment.
Be happy, live happily and spread happiness 🙂