The Pursuit of Happiness

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Happiness, the central want of every human need, how do we acquire it and what do we do after we have finally found it? How do we even know when we have it?

It’s obvious that we carry out actions that satisfy us and thus increase our happiness, but I’m talking about the point where you are accepting of the world around you, you’re not plagued by any anxiety, fear or regret and everything just feels, right. Then again, I’m pretty sure we all have our own interpretations of what a perfectly happy life would be, though it seems likely the same patterns emerge in people’s imagination.

Is there such a thing though? Do people that we see as happy and content with all life has to offer, really feel that way or have they just learned to live with what they have and call that true joy?

Perhaps it’s wrong to label “Happiness” as if it is an event in life to be sought out, maybe it works the same a fuel for a car. You want to keep the car running, so you add fuel consistently, so maybe people have a preferred level of happiness and they have to keep doing things to keep that happiness level up. The preferred level may change and grow as we develop and things in life change. The sad thing really is that the “sweet spot” to hit on the happiness meter seems more difficult to reach with age.

As a child, many, many events seemed novel in that you had never experienced them before, everything was so new and interesting. There was nothing to worry about as adult worries didn’t exist in your narrow world and the repercussions of your actions didn’t matter, you were a kid, it’s expected of you, no one will hold it against you.

Fast forward a few years to school, things are still fun and novel but now you get a burn on your tongue from a slight taste of the impending ageing of self. You now have to be with peers 8 hours a day for more than a decade. You make friends, only to realise in the future that you are actually “competing” with these people for success in life. You are pressured to learn and complete work. Thus begins the rest of your life. Obviously learning and making friends is great, there’s no dispute, but childhood innocence fades when the grand scheme of things is revealed.

Years go by, faster every time due to life’s novelty running drier. Childhood seems distant despite still being classed as young. You let life run it’s course in terms of what is expected of you. Get a good education, get a good job, make lots of money. Make it sound easy, especially when the people conditioning you with this seem to go by “Do as I say, not as I do”. Does this lead to what people think is true happiness?

I think it does, but NOT for YOU.

The term “Pursuit of Happiness” sounds optimistic and possible but I think it’s inaccurate. It should be “Misplacement of Happiness”. Simply because I think we are only truly happy as children ignorant of worries and lack of innocence in the world, and we lose that more and more as we grow up. We can still pursue true happiness, but not for ourselves, for the next generation.

So by all means, get a great a job, an extravagant house, surround yourself with good people and make a lot of money. Do it to make sons and daughter’s hold onto their childhood true happiness for as long as possible before the world eats it.

It will be interesting to look back on this piece of writing in the future to see if my interpretation has changed. I doubt I’ve nailed anything in my almost 19 years of life so let’s see how things seem at age 29.

Here’s a video on why time seems to go faster as we age.

– Jamie