The offering for today, a short essay.
What is life, but the pursuit of happiness?
It’s written into any human rights document and has a place in every democratic state’s declaration of state.
“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well known and used phrase today.
A happy human being is a productive human and if we are all to get along in this world we all need to chip in somehow. Contributing so that we might all have a happy and fulfilling life.
Sadly, though happiness is seen as a basic human right by many, it is one thing to write something down and quite another thing to see it happen in practice. Though the comparison might not be the best, it is somewhat the same with communism. On paper it is a wonderful idea, but it has never been fully and successfully applied in our lifetime. Same thing with the idea of happiness for all.
Sometimes I wonder, if happiness has not become a harder thing to achieve in our modern society, where we want to do so much, so many different things, achieve so much and contribute to society…While also feeling happy and fulfilled with our lives.
Some might feel that happiness is tied to love. Tied to having someone special in your life, to share your long years with. From that we get the stress created by hunting for that special someone and the disappointment when you come up short in the dating game. With a much larger pool of people to chose from, it somehow becomes worse. Back in the old days, we stayed put in one city, one town or even one small village. We chose a mate from the other kids we played with and married one of them. Surely there was some form on happiness in that, that security that you knew what the rest of your life would be like. Though I wont pretend like adultery did not happen, it certainly feels like it is more common today and not as frowned upon with the freedom of the internet that hides our activities online.
And does that not also this modern pursuit of a partner tie into the modern idea of having a career? With machines doing so much more for us, less people are used to work hard labor jobs and that frees up people to do different jobs. Today we have more white collar jobs, in front of computers, working with our growing technology and all the small related positions that creates. But you have to chose the right path, you have to study after high school to be able to work in such a job that is more mentally demanding of you. You have to know for sure what you want to work with for the rest of your life when you’re 18 years old, when you have to apply for college or university. I thought I knew what I wanted when I was 18, but I turned out to be wrong. Sometimes I feel envious of those young people in the past, who had their career path decided for them, when they could just follow in their father’s shoes. Though we are more free today, it does demand more of us in return.
There is so much said about feeling happy or fulfilled in your profession, is it no wonder that so many of us tie up our happiness in our jobs. Or hope to find happiness in our jobs. Though the truth is, that so many of us have to work those low-wage, tiring, degrading jobs that might not feel very satisfying or fulfilling. All we can do is post anonymous stories of our daily toils and butting heads with stubborn customers and hope for something better to come along.
And sometimes it’s not enough to just have a job or a lover in your life. There are so many other little things that we are expected to have to project this image of absolute happiness to the rest of the world. We need a house with a pretty garden, we need to take vacations to exciting places and we need to have the latest gadgets to immerse ourselves in on our daily commute to that job that hopefully makes us some degree of happy. We should have at least one child, whose development we engage ourselves in, who we teach to read and drive to various after school activities and then send off to the right schools and hope…Hope that they won’t move far away and leave us alone when we grow old and grey.
No, I do think it was simpler before, when our choices were more limited. When we didn’t know more than what laid at the end of our stretch of country road, when the daily work was just enough to fill our bellies and where we could take happiness from something simple as a child growing up healthy and happy. Where we shared out lives completely with our partner, because otherwise we would not survive and when we took pride in all the small things we had instead of the things we didn’t.
I think we need to rethink the way we live here in the west, because not only do I think our pursuit of happiness, the modern industrialized definition of happiness is harmful to ourselves in the long run…It is also harmful to our planet.