Monday, November 3, 2014

Is Happiness All That?

Happy. I've come to dislike the word. I want moments of happiness in my life as much as the next person but it just seems like we are expected to become happy, as if it were a destination you arrive at when you get x or achieve y. Seems to me happy is just a short, temporary response to something pleasant. No different than laughing being a response to a funny joke. Enjoy the joke, enjoy the laugh, maybe even retell it to others so they can enjoy it too. Nobody ever expects a joke to change their lives and make everything better so why do we expect so much from happiness?

No doubt, our culture really emphasizes it. Fairy tales all end the same way - the princess and prince get together and they all live happily ever after. As if falling in love and getting married is some finish line beyond which life is happy. Almost every ad campaign centers around products or services designed to make us happy. If only we had the latest and greatest product our lives would be perfect - look how happy the actors are. Heck, even our Declaration of Independence calls the pursuit of happiness an unalienable right. I almost feel like we are obligated to present a happy front in public at all times and that seems to include social media these days.

Now I don't think there some sort of conspiracy to make us feel bad about all our moments that fall short of happy, which describes most moments.  But I do think it's easy these days to lose perspective on the role of happiness. Seems to me happy is nothing more than one of many emotional responses we human being might have to any given situation. I don't want to judge my life based on how much happiness I feel, or how much I think I feel in comparison to those around me. I want to live a life of courage, strength and kindness. That's the goal anyway.

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