Happiness: A useless, overrated emotion
The best art, literature, poetry have come from deep anguish or longing. Best humor is derived from difficult times and total misery. The best lessons are learnt in failure and best questions are answered when totally desperate. The best challenges give best sense of satisfaction. The best inspiration comes when you are down and out and alone and focused.
What has happiness ever given anyone anything? If anything it has given feeling of complacency and misplaced contentment along with the fear of losing it.
Whenever I think of happiness, it comes to me like beautiful soap bubbles in the air. No matter how elaborate or big or small they are- they inevitably burst. And too soon. Then why do we reach out to them? Why are we in a constant state of pursuit of happiness?
Why is it so important that the freedom to pursue it was included in the U.S. Declaration of Independence? I frankly think they meant “Happiness” as the poster-child emotion representing everything that is good. Once accepted as such (as it is), it will also help in realizing life goals in true precedence.
For everyone who is wondering why am I bashing one good thing left in the world- I’m not. I’m only clarifying a misunderstanding that happiness is something important and that happiness needs to be pursued. It is being in a glorified amusement park, where it becomes too hot with the queues that are too long for the rides that get over way too soon.
Of course, I am not suggesting that one should roam around brooding, grumpy and unpleasant in perpetuity. I am in fact, saying opposite of that!
Once you know that happiness need not be pursued- you stop feeling like you are missing it and it only gets better.
Allow me to explain- What comes after a high? Low. What happens after a superb period of giddy happy phase- feeling a superb low feeling where you may feel depressed for no reason. What happens when you don’t feel “Happy” on your own- you go looking sometimes in people, and sometimes in other things.
I am also writing this at this time that during lock down, where both people as well as happiness inducing substances may be well off your reach. So you’re left all by your lonesome with no other means of generating feeling of “happiness”.
Hence a lot of people are feeling alone and depressed and “can’t remember when they were happy last”.
This feeling is acutely exacerbated by watching other people make amazing food on Instagram, watching a series after another on Netflix and such like, moving from one stage to another on Video games, spending hours on other social media. This is because one’s path of least resistance is to channelize the feeling of emptiness by doing something minimum that gives maximum mental stimulation( Living through other’s experiences in movies, watching beautiful creations that have little or nothing with you and such). Once one is out of that dreamlike experience, one can have the same level of satisfaction where you may be mentally highly stimulated, but you also know that nothing of that nature has truly happened making one more depressed.
This is when one starts thinking of the lack of “happiness”, which actually means only lack of achievement.
So now what?
Now. Limit your social media and streaming time to a specific quantum and be bored for some time. For that period- avoid whatever you have been more like addicted to (Includes Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, LinkedIn), checking your likes on some post/Email/Slack/Twitter/ every few mins). Be Bored. Allow some space in your mind.
Your mind will automatically seek that stimulus by pushing you to actually DOING something. Channelize physically. Instead of going looking- Do something productive and physical. Doing that by your own mind and hand, no matter how mediocre, always gives a feeling of achievement. Simply because the more times ones does, the better one gets at it.
DO-ing something yourself, FOR yourself( and not for the social media picture), helps generate the happiness DOSE (Dopamine. Oxytocin. Serotonin. Endorphin) in your body without you having to go seek it. What you actually need to seek is the feeling of achievement and power through the work it takes to get there. Of course- to feel achieved, you may have to go a little deeper within yourself to ask the question as to what is important enough to give you that feeling and so you will also come into terms with the person you are! It’s a win win.
The secret misery (secret ingredient)
Everyone of sound mind- on this planet has something bugging them. No one is completely happy(and certainly not all the time). That only means that it gives scope for everyone to achieve something small. Everyday. As James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits- if you become 1% better everyday for 1 year- you will be 37 times better by end of the year.
How do you keep up the motivation to be 1% better every single day?
By reminding yourself of your secret misery and not being “happy” with what you’ve achieved because 365days is a long time.. and for some even 3 is too long to go without a little self congratulation.
The only one good happiness -
If you are still the die-hard happiness advocate and you simply won’t accept that happiness is lesser of the other emotions (probably just as bad as hate)- then fine! This is only how much I can very grudgingly yield-
The only happiness that ever truly matters is the one that you are able to GIVE.
Specially to someone who has nothing to gain by it. A small child.. or an old granny, or someone who just doesn’t expect any at all. That’s so pure and innocent. Maybe that’s the only reason this emotion is able to compensate it’s existence.
World is a bad enough place without us blindly pursuing some silly floating soap bubbles. You are stronger than that. Do more.