The second Friday of every month, my friends and I go out for dinner after we come back from our theatre meeting. We usually relax and complain about our spine breaking workload and how we wish the weekend should never end. The second Friday of February, we went to eat Chinese. Unlike our usual conversations, we had a contemplative discussion about the future. At that time, we were seniors in high school and had no perception about the future. We all had the conception that after senior year we go to college, get a degree, pursue for a masters or doctorate, get a job, and get settled in life.
Then I envisaged whether our happiness is confined within these tedious steps. Moreover, 1 pondered: what is happiness? According to Webster’s dictionary, happiness is the pleasure and joy of being content. Contentment, however, evolves with time. Children find equanimity in small objects, adolescence find it in their identity, and adults find it in wealth and fame. When | went to a family dinner party, I realized how the assorted group of people has their own means of contentment. My three year old niece’s satisfaction was in figuring out how to unlock her dad’s iPhone.
My fifteen year old cousin was exuberant over the fact that he got a high ACT score. My uncle, on the other hand, was proud that his son got a higher ACT score than his neighbor’s son. In Shakespeare’s “The Seven Stages of Man”, he divides life into seven stages. And in each stage exemplifies the essence of each age and how it metamorphoses from the previous one. Likewise, the definition of happiness evolves in the different stages of life, yet it gravitates around a common ideal. Whether it is my forty seven year old uncle or my three year old niece, their definition of happiness is based on their transient achievements.
Although happiness is said to correlate to successes in life, success plays an important aspect in happiness, but it does not measure happiness. To attain success, everyone has a purpose of life. The purpose motivates us to achieve a goal, and when the goal is reached we enjoy a momentary happiness and go on to reach other goals. Unfortunately, this process is never ending. To attain the ultimate satisfaction, we run every day without taking note of the small things in life. Basically, life follows an algorithm; a set of steps that are followed to obtain your expected results.
We are born, go to school, go to college, get a degree, get a job and attain satisfaction through our children. Despite the fact that the process seems mundane, it is practical. Through this system of reckoning, where do people find happiness? I know many of my friends go searching for happiness in malls. They adore the pleasant endorphins they get from buying a new pair of shoes. To be honest, I feel the same way. However, the pleasure is evanescent. After I come back home from the mall with my new pair of shoes, I would be disappointed why I didn’t buy the red sweater on sale.
Eventually, when I get that red sweater, I would not be satisfied by the fact that it eluded my expectations. The buying cycle continues, and at the end, I would have paid for items that did not reciprocate the happiness I expected. Even though materialism and success can provide happiness to a certain extent, true happiness comes from people around you. In the Margaret Edson’s playwright, “Wit”, an English professor named Vivian Bearing with a profound knowledge of metaphysical poetry, realized she failed to connect with people around her.
Vivian, on her death bed, acknowledged the fact that she secluded herself from personal connections with her family and the students she taught. Vivian was focused to develop her passion for John Donne’s poetry and cultivate her career, and was in an illusion that her overpowering intellect and impressive career is ample to fulfill her happiness. During Vivian’s last days of life, she repented her mistakes and wished she had another chance to attain true happiness through the caring individuals around her.
Heartfelt happiness can only be experienced through the compassion that is showered on you by friends and family, and happiness can be rejoiced when you deluge compassion on your loved ones. Happiness is inversely proportional to selfishness. Selfishness can be defined as a quality or state of one who disregards others. Selfishness limit one’s horizon to themselves, and their thoughts will be concentrated on their story of life. On the other hand, a selfless deed illuminates your soul. You feel more blessed and happy when you help someone on their journey.
When I volunteered at a local hospital’s gift shop, I felt selfsatisfied. The immense pleasure I got from helping a customer find a perfect gift for her sick grandmother was priceless. Your happiness is not always dependent on your desires, moreover, it is a mutual connection you have with humanity. According to research, philanthropist and social works have lower stress and are considered to be the happiest people ever. Their source happiness is not through money or materialistic goods, but through the happiness they see through the community they alleviate.