The Happiness Hypothesis
It’s rather odd and perhaps curious that you can live your life exactly how you want and still not have what idealists would term “happiness.” You can’t always get what you want, some say. Funny… I’ve gotten everything I’ve really wanted in life… an amazing, loving husband, a rewarding and successful career, friends and family, and even some money to spend how I please. And yet, for some reason I still lack a certain happiness.
One would assume this happiness would be a product of or even a side effect of fulfilling all these wants. But I’m here to tell you quite frankly that this assumption is based on the premise that happiness is conditional—a state of being achieved after checking off, box-by-box, things and people that we perceive as requirements for contentment. I think humans have a perpetual and exhaustive list of stuff, stuff they think will make them happy. And when they find that one item doesn’t produce the euphoric feeling, they move to the next, and thus begins time’s cruel joke, teasing us with incomparable and beautiful ideas that reality is unable to replicate.
Thus we are left with a long list of checked-off wants, confused as to why happiness hasn’t delivered itself to our doorstep. But let us look from the other spectrum: how can one possibly have happiness with so little to show for it? I see with my own eyes children who have nothing but want for everything, yet still I discover happiness in their eyes. I smell with my own nose the unmistakable scent of disease and poverty on the dirty rags covering their dirty skin. And yet, stronger still is the sound of their weak laugh against my ears, a laugh only a happy child can make.
So how is this possible then that the things that are supposed to make us happy don’t and sometimes the absence of anything produces contentment. It must mean that happiness, therefore, is not a conditional state of being, dependent on haves and have-nots—because just as there’s a happy poor man and happy rich man, so there is a sad poor man and a sad rich man.
Ergo, happiness is something that can never be found simply because it isn’t a thing at all. No, but I believe happiness can be created, the only kind of energy born from nothing simply because you make it so. And that in itself is what makes happiness so rare. People search their whole lives for it only to find that happiness is not a what but instead a how.
So when you find yourself left empty after getting everything you could possibly want, create yourself a little happiness in which can enjoy those things. And if you find yourself without any of those things, create your happiness anyways, knowing that even if you can’t always get what you want, you can always laugh at those who think that really matters at all.