Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Sum Total of Human Happiness

What a weird title!! If you feel so, believe me, I also feel it, but, that is what popped up into my head early morning today. What does it mean? You know..Sum- Total - a Tautology and Human Happiness.. !

What exactly constitutes happiness? and to what extent can we go to achieve it? Well, everything what humans have done so far, achieved so far, is to achieve this state of Happiness. So the question that naturally comes to mind is - Once we achieve this "Happiness" will we stop doing what we were doing and remain "Happy".  Hardly!! I would think -  Humans are not made for that!

Human beings are inherently un-happy when they are happy for a longish time. They feel dissatisfied, lost, unchallenged and whatever they did to achieve that "Happy State" is now relegated to the annals of history. I believe the day we feel Happy and contented, with wanting to achieve nothing else - that day is the Human race shall start its decline. The reason is simple - we need to keep thinking that there is something else that can make us happier than what we are presently and we need to achieve it.

The experts would have you believe that we are far happier than our ancestors - the cave men/women were. Why is that? Its because we live longer, healthier and in greater comfort (or atleast many do). Our lives are not in constant danger of attack by animals or left completely to the vagaries of nature. We have managed to control the effects these factors have on our survival. What, in effect, has been achieved is "A better survival rate" which has propelled the humans to increase their numbers to Six Billion People !!! But has this made us "Happier"?

Today, we hanker for happiness. We tell our kids - I shall be happy if you do this or just imagine How happy you will be if you to this.... and that.... and some more. So we keep slogging on, in search of that elusive Happy State that keeps showing us glimpses and then disappears, forcing us to work for it again. The employee working hard for promotion, the employer working hard to make more money, the student studying to get more marks, the salesman trying to sell one more item, the athlete trying to finish the race one second quicker.... we are consumed by these thoughts and all our efforts are towards achieving the Holy Grail of happiness.

Levels of happiness differ or have been made to differ, so that aspirations to achieve that one extra milestone shall always be there. I mean, if humans were happy with the animal cart - there would be no Bicycle, scooter, car, airplane etc. So If I owned an animal cart and so did my other neighbours, would I be happy for them? Chances are that I am un happy. If my neighbour has the same stuff as I have, whats the fun in that ?

The same applies to other possessions- There is always a better AC, Fridge, Car, Hotel, road, house, boat etc to aspire for. Our happiness does not stem from the fact that our peers have what we have, rather, its what I have and what he does not have, makes me happy!! Our level of happiness is relative to the other persons misery. The thought "I am atleast better off than that guy... look at his problems, he is sc*****, Thank god I'm OK , make us far happier, than " Wow, look at him/her, great car, house, wife etc", I too have all that but I am still not satisfied.

Can we stop feeling this way ? I don't think so. There is nothing that we can do about it- Its our natural instinct - The only people who are genuinely happy for you are your immediate family as what ever you do, it reflects on them too... :)

The concept of "Settling Down" is to achieve a steady state of Happiness. Get an education, Wife/GF/Husband, house, Kids, steady job/business- takes about 30 years, but yeah- one does get there and this steady state lasts for exactly maybe two months, after which boredom (read Un Happy) sets in and we start looking out for more. So thus follow movies, shopping, travelling, eating out, activities - in other words - Lifestyle. The bar for happiness keeps changing higher and higher ........

So summing it all up: The Sum Total of Human Happiness lies in being happy at this moment in what ever you do or achieve, because once achieved, the happiness derived from that achievement is a diminishing return. Children laugh a lot because they dont say that "I shall be happy when I achieve this or that" and then only shall I laugh. So, Be happy in the Moment , because that is the happiest you shall ever be.

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