It’s funny how in the declaration of the United States, among all the essential basic guarantee of human rights an individual has, it was happiness that is the only want which needs to be pursued. Not liberty, not life, but happiness, as it was clearly epitomized in the movie – The Pursuit of Happyness.
I was in Bangkok over the weekend with my cousin when he brought up the topic of happiness. He was sharing with me how one day over lunch when he was in the UK, his best friend challenged him to name one person whom they thought is happy.
My cousin could name none.
He shared with me on how he thought everyone around him had a gripe on something or someone in life. Whether its about their boss, their spouse, their bank account, their salary, you name it, they would probably have a gripe on it.
He then proceeded to ask that among the 3 siblings, which of us were the happiest? He then asked me what about my own happiness. I thought for it for a moment and said to him “happiness is a choice, a decision one makes”.
One doesn’t truly become happy by what he or she gets or possess, contrary to popular belief. Those are just temporal happiness. You would get bored of your new car, your new phone, even your boyrfriend/girlfriend or even spouse. You find the object or even the person not as fun as it used to be before or that the person is not the same. You lose interest and move on.
We have all done that. And then we wonder – how come I am not happy?
There are times I feel like giving Drew away. I dread having to bathe him, to clean his mess, to feed him, to play with him, to walk him. There are days he whines and in those days, you just want to whack the crap out of him just so he quits whining all the time. And that’s when I sometimes catch myself and deliberately stop. I forget that I love him, that despite how much hair he drops, I still love him and how much he messes my garden by digging pockets of holes all around, I still love him. And in return he rewards me with affection if I choose to let him do it – if I open my heart to him and let him lick me and play with me. And from that encounter I experience happiness. Only when I choose it, can I yield happiness
It’s the same with choosing happiness in our lives. When we learn to smile, to forgive, to laugh, to share, to be magnanimous we are indirectly choosing true happiness. Because choosing true happiness requires us to make that effort. It doesn’t come freely and yet it makes us free.
The other point to make here is that true happiness can be achieved once we stop competing or comparing in life. The one thing that we learn early on in life is also the one thing that cripples many of us later on in life. Comparison and competition is life’s way of determining order and distribution of resources. But it’s also the root cause of bitterness, low-self-esteem and unhappiness. How many times you have been unhappy because your friend or colleague did better than you? How many times you have been unhappy despite receiving something commendable because the other person has got more? Granted the “hunger” does serve as a motivation in some cases, but the more one goes up in life, the more one realizes that comparing makes you more miserable.
So in summary here are 2 key points of happiness:
- Happiness is a choice that must be pursued
- Happiness breaks down when you start comparing and competing