Permanent happiness is marketed as the most important life goal. Companies try to convince us that we can only achieve steadfast happiness if we acquire more stuff to make our lives pleasing and fun. And – as it is fairly easy to accomplish – we willingly rely on this mantra of a purchasable everlasting happiness.
They make us believe that, in order to fight the inevitable gloom of an ordinary life, we have to work hard at our self-confidence and ambition. We need to keep our focus on a number of productive and constructive targets, that will make our lives successful and stand out from other people’s miserable existences.
It seems that, in order to be happy, we primarily need a lot of money. If we don’t have money, our biggest pursuit should be to make money. Lots of it. Enough to make all our dreams come true. Still, just as you cannot buy happiness, you cannot achieve it either. It will come to you, sooner or later, or it will never come at all. And when it comes, it never lasts.
Enjoying the simple pleasures in life, however, is not only within our grasp, it also improves our well-being and makes life more enjoyable. While the fanatical pursuit of a lifelong happiness ironically leaves us less happy, having a mindful existence brings us more joy.
Whether it is making brief eye contact with someone of the opposite sex, or we enjoy the first sip of a drink when we are thirsty, or we wake up and realize we have a lot more time to sleep, or we get an unexpected compliment from somebody that we hold dear… These are the things we actually live for. Holding hands with someone we love also ranks high on the pyramid of pleasure. The awareness of how much someone means to us can be quite overwhelming. It may seem obvious when we say it out loud, but love truly is all that matters.
So, to put it mildly, the pursuit of individual happiness by acquiring ‘more’ (as in more things, more status, more money…) is rather silly. The search for happiness is in itself a bit absurd. It is the same like the senseless desire to be taller, or smarter, or more talented. You are, or you aren’t, no matter how hard you try.
We are supposed to view a happy life as the norm, because that will make us buy more stuff and consume more, but the truth is that experiencing deep sadness should be accepted as an important part of life. Without it, true happiness is unattainable.
There is a clear link between the media-overwhelmed world we live in, and the way we perceive our personal growth. There are so many advertisers and retailers fighting for our attention, that we get showered with motivational suggestions to become more happy, and to become excellent as human beings, to make other people envious of the lives we are living.
Salespersons deliberately exploit our most primary insecurities and increase our self-loathing. They make us want to wear trendy shoes and clothes, get our hands on a fabulous car, a beautiful house, an amazing holiday destination… They aspire to make us go to beauty parlors, tanning salons, fitness clubs, and so on. They paint a picture what happiness is supposed to look like, and then they sell us the components of that picture.
And so most people have a bizarre approach towards happiness. Instead of simply accepting a happy life, and trying to make something of it through self-actualization and meaningful fulfilment, we tend to care more about giving ‘the impression to be happy’ than to actually being happy. We worry more about how our lives look on social media, than how they are in reality. That is where most of our joy in life comes from: of the idea that others are conscious of our marvelous life, no matter how fake it actually is.
By hiding our real emotions, we refuse to accept that life can be sad as well as happy, and the more we try to become more happy, the less happy we will feel, since trying to be happy increases the idea that we aren’t happy to begin with.
Wasting time dwelling on the things we don’t have is… well… a waste of time. When we appreciate what we have, we will automatically be more happy. That is why we need to try to live a life of true awareness. We should change the way we look at people, and find the good and beauty in them. We need to see the world in a totally different way, and appreciate and treasure it more, because how we perceive things, is ultimately what defines our level of happiness.
So, as Charles Bukowski’s gravestone says: “DON’T TRY”… Because if you try to do something, you’re actually not doing it…
© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg