Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…
In the interviews of people all over the world in the movie Happy (shown as part of the Environmental Film Festival a few months ago), the attainment of happiness was consistently among the top goals of life. Unfortunately, people from developed countries vied for other goals in higher priority -riches, fame, and success.
It is a common belief that a person must have a sense of security through possession of money, a house, a car etc to be happy. If that is the case, a majority of the people in the United States and other developed countries should be happy. In reality, these countries have the highest rates of depression. Conversely, people interviewed in developing countries, who did not have much possession and worked for unsteady daily income, declared with a grand smile to the camera that they are indeed very happy. How can that be?
The documentary explained that, while things like fame or materialism may bring an intense level of happiness, it is also transient. True, long-lasting happiness was not derived from any physical object that one could possess. Instead, the origin of true happiness is the relationships that one has with others. Humans are social creatures, and it is our natural inclination to relate to other beings. I believe that today people are subtly taught by media to always want and are too distracted by what they do not have to truly appreciate the value of all that they do indeed have.
So what are we to do? How can we be happy when we have not yet accomplished our career/educational/personal goals?
I can certainly say that I wish I didn’t have school loans or had figured out my calling in life or was traveling around the world while getting paid. But I can also say that I am happy to have parents who trust me, to live with great roommates, and to have friends all over the city and the world.
Happiness and gratitude go hand in hand. I bet everyone has a lot to be happy about – your job, your courage and openness to have explored new activities, your friends and family, the wonderful weather outside, your feet for being able to support your body as you walk….
Perhaps today, Sundays, this hour, is not the best time. Maybe something tragic has happened. Or you feel ill. Or you have an incredible hangover. Maybe that’s not the case and today is simply a blah day. A day when asked “How are you?” you would reply as my former boss always did: “I can’t complain.”
Everyone will have days that do not elicit or conjure happiness. On these days, take Andy Warhol’s advice.
A print my friend got me from the National Gallery of Art
You have to be willing to get happy about nothing
– Andy Warhol
The narrator explained that happiness is all about perspective. Train your mind to experience things from a positive perspective and happiness will gradually find its way to immerse your everyday moments.
Easier said than done, but why not give it a try! What’s the worst that could happen -you might be happy most of the time??? How awful